The middle sibling of the XT Series, the XT23 is big enough to handle a crowd in the cockpit and bow, but small enough to be nimble for towing wakeboards and slalom skiers in addition to surfers. With the GEN2 wake shaping option, she can carry up to 2,600 lbs. (1,179 kg) of ballast and MasterCraft lets owners choose from a base boat to one that’s fully loaded.
• Horseshoe-shaped cockpit seating
• Available ballast up to 2,600 pounds (1,179.34 kg) with GEN2 wake-shaping system
• Choice of towers
• Ilmor Marine 6.0, fuel-injected inboard engine
• Conventional bow design
• Available custom-built trailer
By Capt. Martin Frobisher
The middle sibling of the series, the XT23 is designed to be able to be a capable wakesports tow machine for surfing, boarding or skiing and have plenty of space for just hanging out on the water. Wraparound cockpit seating, a conventional bow and an aft sunlounge have space for at least a dozen people.
The Wakes. Part of MasterCraft’s “Well-Equipped” package, the XT23 comes with the manufacturer’s optional GEN2 Surf System that features trim-tab-style plates on the stern and a ballast system with a 2,600-pound (1,179.34-kg) capacity. The GEN2 system features side-to-side switching so riders can surf a wake on the port or starboard side of the stern. A touch screen at the helm controls the wakes and the list of wake options includes Surf Left Mellow and Steep, Sur Right Mellow and Steep and Wake Beginner. Basically, the steeper the wave, the faster the boat is going. Empty the ballast and raise the tabs and the MasterCraft says the XT23 still throws a low wake for slalom skiing. The ballast system consists of forward and aft hard tanks with a total capacity of 1,300 pounds (589.67 kg) plus two soft sacks that carry 650 pounds (294.84 kg) each on top of the aft tanks. They are accessible under hatches in the aft sunlounge. Three Jabsco 30-gpm (113.56-lpm) pumps make up MasterCraft’s fast-fill system. Approximate filling time is four minutes.
The Numbers. The XT23 measured 25’5” (7.48 m) long with a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m) and a draft of 30” (76.2 cm). Empty weight is listed at 5,000 lbs. (2,268 kgs). With 55 gallons (208 L) of fuel, three people and test equipment onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 5,935 lbs. (2,692 kg).
Speed and Range Our test boat was a 2019 model powered by an Ilmor Marine 5.7-liter inboard engine and V-drive transmission. For the model year 2020, MasterCraft will be powering the XT23 with Ilmor’s new 430-hp 6.0-liter Ford-based fuel-injected engine. With a 14.75” x 15.75” (37.47 cm x 40.00 cm) nibral prop spinning on a shaft coming out of the 1.57:1 transmission, we hit a top speed of 42.1 mph at 5200 rpm. Best cruise came at 3000 rpm where the XT23 ran 21.7 mph and burned 6.9 gph, which translated to 3.1 mpg and a range of 156 miles. At 3500, the mpg number was the same. The top speed was 27.6 mph and the range was only two miles less. A typical wakesurfing speed is around 10 mph, and at 2000 rpm, the XT23 ran 9.2 mph and burned 2.6 mph, giving the boat a range of 130 miles and an endurance of 14.1 hours. That’s a full day of riding. In acceleration tests, the XT23 planed in 2.9 seconds, ran through 20 mph in 4.5 seconds and through 30 in 7.3 seconds.
Handling and Docking. At the helm, we counted 3½ turns of the steering wheel from lock to lock. The XT23 felt agile and responsive. We started by carving wide, sweeping arcs and as we tightened the turns, we were impressed. The sharp bow entry cut through the light chop and our test boat cut through our photo boat’s wakes with ease. The 12” (30.48 cm) rudder is a good fit for overall maneuverability.
The Bow. The XT Series is designed with a traditional narrow bow as opposed to the picklefork style MasterCraft uses on other models. The bow is most comfortably used with passengers facing forward, leaning against the backrests on the front of each console. The side bottom cushions are 4’2” (1.27 m) long and 1’6” wide (45.72 cm). A bolster does wrap all the way around of someone wants to sit in the center at the front and ride facing aft. There are grab handles, Klipsch stereo speakers and drink holders up front with dual USB ports. For storage, the port bottom cushion and backrest are hinged and lift on a gas strut while. The starboard seat has a smaller locker in the base. The center bottom cushion in the bow pulls aside to reveal clips for a Danforth-style anchor.
The Cockpit. Our test boat had a wraparound windshield that extended aft to the tower base and had an opening center section. A smoked acrylic air dam closes off the passageway below to keep air from blowing into the cockpit during early- or late-season surfing sessions. Underfoot there’s soft DECKadence material covering the deck. The cockpit is essentially a single wraparound lounge that starts abaft the port console and extends to behind the driver’s bucket seat. In the port console, our test boat had a glovebox, two beverage holders and a small foam-lined tray. Just below is a backrest so an observer can travel comfortably while keeping an eye on the action behind the boat. An angled grab handle is in the port gunwale. Lounges and bolsters run the length of the cockpit on each side. Each aft corner has a contoured, rounded backrest to enhance the comfort of the passenger. A bench seat and angled backrest fill in the center seating.
The Tower. For the XT23, buyers can choose among three different towers. According to the MasterCraft website, they select the ZFT 4 tower, a $4,670 upgrade, 91.1 percent of the time. Our test boat had this tower, which includes a Bimini top and folds down manually. It has four board racks. Part of the Well-Equipped package are two Klipsch S80 tower speakers with billet cans.
Cockpit Storage. As mentioned when we described the bow storage, the port side lounge backrest and bottom cushion open to access a 12’6” (3.81 m) long compartment. There’s also an under-deck locker in the traditional ski-boat position between the port and starboard consoles. In the aft end of the port lounge are the batteries and switches. The aft bench seat slides forward and has shallow storage underneath. To starboard, there’s dedicated space for a carry-on 36-quart (34 L) Igloo coolers.
The Helm. At the XT23’s helm, the bucket seat has contoured supports on the bottom and backrest plus a foldup bolster. Outboard to starboard, the gunwale has a padded armrest abaft the shift-throttle lever. Forward in the dash, instruments include a tachometer to port, a speedometer in the center a four-function cluster-style gauge to starboard. The steering wheel tilts and to port is a small storage shelf with the stereo and wake-control screens to starboard. Down low on the same side are a cell phone holder, USB plugs and the ignition. Three ski mirrors are available with the boat.
The Stern. Aft of the cockpit, there are sun pads on each side of a central walkway finished in DECKadence. The center opens up to reveal the Ilmor Marine engine, which will be a 6.0-liter engine on 2020 models. Outboard on each side are compartments for the soft ballast sacks. On the transom, there’s a small step covered in the same decking material and down low is a traditional teak swim platform at water level.
Well Equipped Package
•Ilmor 6.0 MPI with a 1.57:1 V-drive transmission
•ZFT4 tower with clamping board racks
•Klipsch S80 tower speakers with billet cans
•Klipsch stereo with 7” (17.78 cm) touchscreen
•GEN2 Surf System with side-to-side switching
•Tandem Axle trailer
•Bimini and mooring cover
MasterCraft says the XT23 and the other models in this series are designed to be versatile enough to tow surfers, boarders, and skiers. Based on our tests, the boat meets that mission and more. It handles and rides well and provides comfort for a crowd of passengers.
The base model is listed at more than $100,000 but buyers have to pay extra for items such as the ZFT4 tower and the GEN2 Surf System, both of which the manufacturer says that more than 90 percent of buyers select. If that’s the case, why not just include it in the standard-equipment list and adjust the price accordingly?