By Brett Becker
Malibu 21 vRide is a Win-Win
This new entry-level model is really a top of the line tow boat
Pssst. Want to know how to get a world-class tow boat—with a trailer—from a top tier builder for less than 50 grand? You could scour the classifieds on Boats.com, hoping to find someone who got in way over his head with a brand-new Wakesetter and wants to unload it fast. Or, you could just pick up a 2009 21 vRide. How?
The 21 vRide, which debuted in the 2009 model year, made its first appearance at the top of Malibu’s lineup as a 21-foot Wakesetter in 2005. From a customer’s perspective, it’s a great way to get into a top-shelf, tournament-quality hull for less money. From a manufacturer’s viewpoint, it’s a tremendous way to extract the most profit potential from a model’s tooling before its performance is truly eclipsed by later models or its styling is simply no longer relevant. MasterCraft employed the same strategy with its X-1, which originated as the X-Star some 10 years ago. Regardless of which perspective you take, it’s a win-win.
“The Ride Series gives a value-class buyer the opportunity to own a professional-level wakeboard boat,” says Paul Singer, Malibu’s vice president of sales marketing. “ The 21 and 23 vRides transition boat owners to the Malibu Boats line, where they can enjoy a superior ownership experience, quality construction, pro-rider performance, and exclusive innovations like the patented Power Wedge and the Illusion X tower. All of this without going over budget.”
That is, if your budget is $46,995 for a base boat and trailer.
That gets you a wakeboard boat with 400 pounds of available water ballast beneath the sole, which can be drained or filled from the helm. If you have a bit more to spend, you can get 500 more pounds of ballast amidships, plus the available patented Power Wedge wake-enhancement foil beneath the hull, aft of the rudder. It mimics another 1,200 pounds of displacement and lets you customize wake shape. That should be enough of a wake to make any serious wakeboarder positively giddy—and enough to splinter the old and poorly built boathouses on your favorite lake.
Inside, you get the fit and finish of a Malibu, with playpen seating in the bow and room for up to 11 people. The cowl area features a wind dam for chilly mornings and speakers that bounce sound off the inside of the windshield and back toward cockpit passengers.
The helm features an LCD readout, which displays nearly all boat functions including speed control, 5.5-inch gauges framed in chromed billet, and a Dino steering wheel. The driver’s seat comes with a flip-up thigh bolster to enhance outward visibility, eight positions of adjustment ,and more than 180 degrees of rotation toward the cockpit.
The U-shape seating area features all carpeted stowage underneath and a 60-quart self-draining cooler. The glove box locks for added security and features a 12-volt power outlet and a nonslip rubber tray. Stowage compartments flanking the engine compartment are hinged at the outer edges so they can be opened from the cockpit or from the swim platform.
In fairness, $46 grand isn’t cheap, but in today’s tow-boat market, it’s not all that bad, especially when you consider that some new models fetch $70,000 plus. The 21 vRide provides gobs of features and throws professional grade wakes that the pros themselves were raving about as little as four years ago. Get yours soon. The secret’s out. For more information, call 209-383-7469, or visit Malibu Boats.
Malibu 21 vRide
Max draft: 24″
Weight: 3,500 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 46 gal.
- Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat and runabout markets for Boats.com, he regularly writes and shoots for BoatTrader.com. Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.