- Great all-rounder
- Bow ladder
- Walk-through windscreen
- Mercruiser Vessel-View
- Waterski, wakeboard or fish
- Sternleg covered by platform
- Plenty of storage for water toys
Most of us can only afford one boat and if it is a family asset, the boat has to be multifunctional to justify the investment. this is a tall order for most, it has been achieved by Geoff Robinson from Huntsman Boats with the release of the Xcalibur.
If you were to have one boat to keep your beer-swilling, fishing mates happy, your teenage kids and all their wake toys and loud music going, luxurious comfort to keep your partner on the water and the ability to handle anything the New Zealand weather can throw at it you – you’ll find it in the CSB Huntsman Xcalibur.
The immediate impression upon stepping aboard the Xcalibur is of room. There is an easy flow of space from the boarding platform, cockpit, helm station and cabin. It is the sort of space required for a full day out at a favourite beach with the family or hours spent chasing fish.
The innovation starts right at the bow with split rails and a drop-down bow ladder. This is backed up by a centre fold-out Sea Thru windscreen and a cabin sliding hatch which incorporates steps and makes getting from the beach to the cockpit easy without all the hassles of doing the precarious two-step around the cabin sides.
For this reason side decks are redundant which allows the cabin to go full width and easily incorporates twin berths with an infill section to make a comfortable double and hide the portable toilet beneath.
The forward bulkhead features a recessed tray, VHF and glove box on the port side, with a generous helm area to starboard. Our test boat was fitted with the Mercruiser Vesselview – a total onboard management system which contains all the vital engine information and has a ski program system so you can preload individual towing preferences. This is complemented by a Lowrance depth sounder and GPS plotter system.
Comfort at the helm is a priority for long days on the water and for this reason there is an adjustable wheel from BLA matched with a fully-adjustable helm seat so the perfect position can be found.
The port side has back-to-back King and Queen upholstered seats. There is huge storage under these with fully-hinged access. Cockpit storage is in the normal top and bottom shelves, plus a large under-floor ski locker that is long enough for wakeboards, skis and diving gear.
At the stern of the Xcalibur the most notable feature is the large boarding platform. It is perfect for retrieving and launching wake boarders and skiers as well as dragging fish and divers aboard.
It adds a sense of uncluttered space to the aft deck and covers the stern leg, keeping the prop away from fingers and toes. A neat addition to the boarding platform is the well-hidden boarding ladder and access hatch that avoids a cold swim over the side with a knife, if the prop should get tangled in some line.
The pods under the platform also contain the Lectrotab trim tabs, which can be simply adjusted from the helm to alter the wake pattern to suit different riders. The ski-ability of the Xcalibur is enhanced by the solid Manta wake tower and rocket launcher that has fusion speakers and wakeboard racks attached. The tower-of-power also serves as the frame for the bimini which has good overhang at the forward end to keep the sun off the helm and seating area.
At the aft end of the cockpit is an upholstered bench seat that backs on to the engine bay locker. Beneath it is locker space for wet or dry stowage and it can be moved easily to become an excellent fore-and-aft lounger if some quality relaxing is in order.
Beneath the easily-accessed, double-sided engine bay locker lies some serious horsepower. The new 250hp Mercruiser 4.5-litre V6 combined with the bravo stern leg is a compact and powerful unit. Its low positioning in the hull and unobtrusiveness on deck really adds to the Xcalibur’s boat handling and the seamless flow between the cockpit and the boarding platform.
There are options for a Hyundai 270hp diesel or the Mercruiser TDI 260hp Diesel. In the petrol range there is opportunity to upgrade to the gruntier Mercruiser 6.2-litre V8, but the hull and the existing V6 are an excellent marriage.
On the Water
The good thing about reviewing an all-round boat is that you are going to get conditions to suit at least one of the specialties. Lake Brunner on the South Island’s West Coast put on spectacular glassy, ski boat weather for our test and threw in some old-stand Kahikatea forest as a backdrop. The whole thing gave the impression we were in one of those expensive European car adverts, which was reinforced by the Xcalibur in her well-detailed and smooth form.
The first impression of the test boat on her tandem watercraft trailer is that she is a big 7.5m boat. Some clever design from the Huntsman team gives her an airy, open feel of a much larger boat. Nothing seems rushed or squeezed-in and this produces a boat that’s comfortable in her own lines. The cockpit layout is clean and helped by plenty of storage so you’re not tripping over all the toys.
From the camera boat it was apparent that the Xcalibur had a well-balanced hull that was infinitely tweakable with the stern leg and trim tabs. She could be coaxed into a flat wake ski boat or a hole-digging wake-board set up with the touch of a finger. The boarding platform on the stern fits well with her wake profile, making entry and exit easy without dragging along behind or looking like it’s tacked on.
From outside the boat the striking styling and the low profile of the inboard set-up offers a nice, balanced look on the water.
A quick beach transfer from the camera boat to the Xcalibur via the bow boarding ladder and steps in the cabin hatch made getting on and off a breeze. The system is so simple and effective it’s hard to believe it’s not on every family powerboat.
Getting behind the wheel of the Xcalibur is a pleasure. With a fully-adjustable seat and steering wheel tilt you can find the perfect helm position and adjust it through the day as you need. All the vital information on the engine, location and depth are easy to follow from the helm.
Throwing the throttle down reminds you that there’s some serious power hidden under the aft hatch. There is more than enough grunt for the ski boat hole shot and an effortless roll onto the plane.
In cruise mode Xcalibur seemed comfortable at around 30 knots in calm conditions with plenty in reserve. On the corners the hull and stern drive combination gave her a sure-footed feel without even a hint of cavitation. Having the weight of the engine low down definitely promoted a solid feel and boded well for her rough water performance.
By late afternoon the first indications of a “Brewster” began stirring the lake. This is a reinforced sea breeze that sneaks in from the coast and can cut up the lake quickly. If we had been in a pure ski boat, that would have been the end of it; the chop would have made life uncomfortable and we would be heading for the trailer.
The multi-skilled features of the Xcalibur kicked in and her solid weight and deep V meant that we would only have to switch our activity from skiing to fishing to spend the rest of the day on the water with no qualms about getting home, even in the worst conditions.
If you can afford only one boat, the CSB Huntsman Xcalibur would be it. She has the tweak-ability of a ski boat, the room and functionality of a fisher, the style of an entertaining day boat and the deep water pedigree to get you home.