BOAT REVIEW Super Air Nautique G23

December 2016 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by JohnEichelsheim, photos by Nando Azevado
OUR RATING
4.5 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Super Air Nautique G23
DESIGNER Nautique
BUILDER Nautique
CONSTRUCTION GRP
PRICE AS TESTED $295,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 7.7M
BEAM 2.59M
DRAFT 0.64M
DISPLACEMENT 2676kg
ENGINE PCM XS71 supercharged V8 550hp
FUEL CAPACITY 246L
Weight on Trailer 3400 kg
Max Horsepower 550hp
Passenger Capacity 16 people
HIGHLIGHTS
  • High-tech surf wake control system
  • Surf Select with Surf Switch
  • Supercharged 550hp engine
  • 1300 litres of ballast
  • Balex Auto Loader system
  • Sweat-free launching and retrieving
OBSERVATIONS
  • Wakeboard and surf
  • Luxurious and nicely finished
  • Dedicated tow-sports machine
  • NZ-built trailer combines bunks and rollers

Sitting high and mighty on a custom Enduro trailer, the Super Air Nautique G23 exudes tow sport power, luxury and style, offering wake enthusiasts the latest in US wake-morphing technology.


This three-tonne lifestyle statement is the first Super Air Nautique G23 in New Zealand with a super-charged engine –  a grunty 6.3-litre V8 developing 550hp.

Presented on a locally-built, high-quality trailer, it represents a three-way collaboration between Nautique’s New Zealand importers, Enduro Trailers and Balex Marine, the company responsible for the Balex Automatic Boat Loading system. Balex is making waves here in New Zealand and overseas, with its innovative, remote-controlled trailer launch and retrieval system.

What sets the Enduro trailer apart from the American-built trailers Nautiques usually ride on is the fact it features rollers as well as bunks. To launch and retrieve a boat successfully, a bunk trailer needs to be completely submerged. Depending on the launching ramp, this can mean backing the tow vehicle a long way into the water, which is not great for either the trailer or the vehicle, especially in salt water.

Custom trailer

The classy, black-painted Enduro trailer has been customised to accommodate the Super Air Nautique’s shaft drive and tracking fins. The boat is carried high to clear the drive train, which is protected from contact with the ramp by a wheeled frame.

This trailer is unusual in a number of respects: it combines bunks and rollers, so the boat is much easier to launch and retrieve, and of course it is Balex-equipped, another first for a Nautique.

As part of its collaboration with Nautique NZ, Enduro Trailers produces custom trailers for other models in the range, including fully-galvanised trailers suitable for marine use. On our demo day, a second Nautique destined for an Auckland owner nestled on a fully-rollered, galvanised Enduro trailer.

It will be used in saltwater and is the first Nautique to sit rollers alone rather than bunks or a combination of both. Like the Super Air Nautique’s hybrid trailer design, this salt-ready rollered trailer allows easier launching and retrieving without having to dunk the tow vehicle in the tide, explained Andrew Fink, MD at Hamilton-based Enduro Trailers.

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The combination of rollers and short bunk sections are designed specifically for this boat, which has very flat hull sections aft. Rollers at the rear of the trailer help locate the boat squarely on the trailer. The Balex Automatic Boat Loading system captures the hull, controlling it and pulling/walking it onto the trailer as it slides onto the bunks. Special keel rollers at the front of the trailer then take over, ensuring the boat comes on straight.

The Balex Automatic Boat Loader is a sophisticated system that takes the hard work out of launching and retrieving a trailer boat. Developed and manufactured in New Zealand, it’s proving extremely popular with mainstream trailer boat manufacturers, some of which – like Tristram Marine – are offering Balex as a factory option.

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We launched the Super Air Nautique G23 into Lake Karapiro. Andrew backed the trailer down the ramp until both sets of wheels were partially submerged and the rear third of the boat was in the water. With a bunk trailer this would not have been deep enough to successfully launch the boat, let alone retrieve it, but standing on the boat ramp with dry feet, Andrew used the Auto Loader to push the boat off the trailer in a controlled fashion.

Launching and retrieving can just as easily be undertaken from inside the vehicle or aboard the boat. With so many boat ramps now prohibiting power loading, the electro-hydraulic Balex Automatic Boat Loader offers a great solution, as we saw at the end of our day on the water.

Although the Balex ABL 2500 has a hydraulic lift of 25mm and is rated for vessels up to 2.5 tonnes, it easily managed the heavier Nautique Super Air G23 thanks to the combination of bunks and rollers spreading the boat’s weight. Balex is currently working on a new model with 50mm lift and a payload of up to 3.5 tonnes more suitable for heavier craft.

Vedo Marine Photography-5972 (Small)

The G23 is purely for fun, designed around the enjoyment of wake riding, either on a wake board or using a surf board. The popularity of wake surfing is growing fast and the G23 has the engineering and electronics technology not only to produce a stunning surfing wake, but also to allow the driver to customise the wave to suit the rider and even transfer the wave from one side of the wake to the other almost instantly at the push of a button. This boat, which will spend most of its time on Lake Karapiro where its owners have a home, is the first supercharged version to reach these shores.

Nautique is considered a premium product in its class and Nautique NZ has a contract to supply Wakeboard NZ with tow boats for its national events. The G23 is the largest Nautique imported into New Zealand and is high-end in every respect, from its beautifully-finished Transformer-like interior to its excellent driving and observing positions, and the ability to accommodate 12 passengers or more, plus gear, wake and surf boards, ropes and associated paraphernalia.

There’s a good-sized chilly bin under the floor, any number of drink holders, a high-spec JL stereo system with two sub-woofers and multiple speakers, directional for minimal impact on other water users, and a handy roll-up bimini that can be configured to provide sun or shade as desired.

The Bimini can be left up when towing the rig too, at any speed up to 100kph. The tower can be raised or lowered effortlessly and the redesigned board storage racks on either side of the tower are new for this model.

Wakeboard and surf

The best way to demonstrate a specialised wake sports boat is to get someone to play in the wake. Nautique NZ’s Mike Wortman is an expert boat driver and Josh Plaw, whose family owns this boat, is a talented wake rider. During the course of the day, we put Josh through his paces, tackling wake-boarding and surfing to illustrate the Super Air Nautique G23’s versatility.

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Wake sports boats are all about the wake: creating it and controlling its shape. The Super Air Nautique is a master of control. It starts with the water ballast: whereas some wake boats fill bladders with water to ballast the hull, the Super Air Nautique G23 has three, built-in polyethylene ballast tanks, one either side of the 246-litre fuel tank and a third further forward along the boat’s centre line.  Ballast tanks are interlinked so water can be pumped from one to another to adjust boat trim and wake size and shape.

To completely fill the ballast tanks with almost 1,300 litres of water takes around eight or nine minutes. A full belly of water adds around 1.3 tonnes to the G23’s already considerable three-tonne displacement, so the wake produced is impressive, and filling the boat with up to the maximum of 16 people can add another 1.3 tonnes, so 550 supercharged horses and 740Nm of torque come in handy.

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Wake boarders are towed off the tower. Mike set the boat up to Josh’s liking, adjusting the ballast to get the right wake characteristics and tailoring the boat’s speed to suit Josh’s preference. All of this can be programmed into the vessel control system, which Nautique calls ‘Launch Control’.

Featuring easy navigation with a touch-screen interface and rotary Helm Command controller, it offers pre-sets for different wake disciplines: wake, wake pro and surf. The GPS speed controller was set at 38kph for Josh’s rides.

Mike was able to monitor what was happening in the wake, not only in the oversize rearview mirror but on screen using the wide-angle rear facing video camera. Observer positions can all be configured to face aft.

Wake surfing has become extremely popular and boat builders have responded by engineering various systems to create and control surf-able waves behind their boats. Once the surfer is up and properly positioned on the wave, there’s no need for the towline, which is retrieved back into the boat.

The Super Air Nautique G23 has one of the better surf wake systems – Nautique would say the best – comprising stacked metal plates, three per side, integrated into the transom. These extend hydraulically to either side of the hull to create a curling standing wave behind the boat.

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The plates are deployed one side at a time, but SurfSwitch, part of Nautique’s vaunted Surf Select system, changes the wave from one side of the boat to the other at the touch of a button. It worked so fast and so well, Josh was able to ride from one side of the boat to the other, always finding a new wave ready to surf.

All this activity was hard work for Josh, but pretty relaxing for the rest of us, lying back in the Sea Deck lined cockpit on comfortable, reclining seats and enjoying the action up close. Surfers are so close to the transom you can almost reach out and touch them.

For all of its power, engine noise is well-muted and we kept the music levels down too, though the volume can certainly be cranked up if desired. The well-furnished cockpit and bow areas are pleasant places to spend time and the huge swim platform, easy access aft and transom lounging areas really come into their own on hot summer’s day.

I certainly can understand the appeal of a boat like this, though while it calls to the younger generation, is probably beyond the means of most of them. Fortunately, many more mature boaters remain young at heart and most of Nautique’s tow sports boats are sold to family guys who enjoy spending time on the water with family and friends.

With its lifestyle element and certain level of cool, tow sports is a great way to keep teenagers and young adults engaged: more mature boat owners may only play around at wake boarding, but their kids and kids’ friends will love it!

We finished our day on Lake Karapiro by letting the Balex do its thing. Andrew Fink had only backed the trailer in far enough to submerge half of the Balex Automatic Boat Loader’s tracks. Mike nudged the bows onto the tracks, killed the engine and let the Auto Loader take over.

The combination of strategically position rollers and short bunks kept the boat coming on mostly straight until the ingenious centre-mounted keel rollers at the front of the trailer captured the bows and trued the boat up perfectly.

All in all the Super Air Nautique G23 is an impressive piece of kit, so obviously built-for-purpose and then optimised and optioned in every possible way. It’s also clearly manufactured to a high standard using the best materials.

The New Zealand-built Enduro custom trailer and Balex Automatic Boat Loading system only enhance the boat’s usability and appeal, but all of this quality is reflected in the price, with this highly-optioned Super Air Nautique G23 coming in at close to $300,000. Packages start at a cool $219,000.

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