IT goes without saying, that if you are seriously into your skiing or wakeboarding and don’t ever want to see a rod holder on your boat, then you will go for a boat dedicated to the task, such as a Mastercraft, Nautique or Tige. However as Geoff Robinson, MD for CSB Huntsman discovered, not everyone wants a boat that is so narrow in its on-water ability. “We have had a lot of feedback from clients who love their fishing and going offshore, but conversely love to waterski or wakeboard, but couldn’t find a boat that had that true multi- purpose crossover ability. What the Xcalibur does, is answer all the needs in one well- presented package”, says Geoff.
The Huntsman Xcalibur brings together the hull of the CSB SD7, with the layout of the CSB Crusader and a sterndrive engine package, which was another request from the skiing/ wake boarding fraternity. It’s a boat that is rough water capable of fishing offshore and diving and equally at home on the mirror- smooth waters of a lake for towing water toys.
Along with the sterndrive, the other big secret to making this a genuine crossover boat is the extra large boarding platform, which again has a multi-tasking function.
Perfect to fish from or drop your gear on after a dive and equally as good when getting in and out of the water for skiers and wakeboarders. The platform also covers the stern leg so there’s no danger of getting exposed to any sharp props. The pods under the platform also contain the Lectrotab trim tabs, which can be simply adjusted to alter the wake pattern to suit different riders, skiing or wakeboarding. Geoff has plans to go a step further and fit adjustable wake plates on either side of the pods, which can alter the wake pattern to more precise levels, softer or harder, depending on what you want.
While it is essentially an SD7, the hardtop has gone and is replaced with a custom made Manta wake tower and rocket launcher. Again, the best of both mediums all in one package. There is plenty of space to then add speakers for your Fusion sound system and wakeboard racks. The tower is extremely solid and capable of handling the most aggressive wakeboarder. A hook on the transom takes care of the skiers. The tower also folds down, so you drop the height to just 2.2m on the trailer for storage. Compared to the SD7, the Xcaliber is finished to a high standard with plusher upholstery, the engine bay is 300mm shorter with the petrol option, (SD7s all run diesels).
This has allowed for a bench seat across the transom due to the extra space. The hull graphics are also lot more ‘in your face’, with some cool colours and options available. The next Xcalibur will feature a bright yellow hull and Geoff’s own boat will feature predominantly green in the hull graphics and upholstery. “ We have tried to bring a lot more colour into the boat, both on the hull and upholstery, but if someone wants it all white, then we will do that also”, says Geoff.
PETROL OR DIESEL
The Xcalibur is being marketed essentially as a Mercruiser petrol sterndrive boat, although there is also the option of a diesel package from Hyundai. Of special interest in the Xcaliber was the engine option, the all new 250hp Mercruiser 4.5 V6, an engine that is Mercury Marine designed and built from the block to the injectors. The first installed into a Kiwi boat, the 4.5 replaces the Mercruiser 4.3 V6 and the 5 litre V8. Also just released is the new Mercury Marine 6.2 V8, (300hp and 350hp), that replaces the 4.5 V6 and the original 6.2 V8. My test day on Lyttelton Harbour was a mirror image of when I ran the first Crusader a few years ago.
Glassy smooth water with hardly a ripple, no swell and no wind. However I have run the SD7 off Gulf Harbour in Auckland, in some wild conditions, with winds of 30 knots gusting to 45 knots, a short, steep sea, driving rain and the sort of day on which normally you would never venture out on the water unless you really had to. The extra weight down low of the sterndrive and the overall balance of the boat lets it track well in most sea states and the ride is excellent.
It’s a full beam boat, with a deep 21 deg deadrise at the transom and a step entry that lets it cut cleanly through the waves. At 7.5m and an on water weight of around 2000 kgs with full fuel, gear and people, the Xcaliber is more than capable of handling most offshore water. On the smooth water, it runs a little like a runabout, with the water peeling off in the aft quarter of the boat. With the sterndrive, you require little trim to get the boat on a nice riding attitude.
Compared to the diesel engine package, the petrol V6 is a rocket ship, with very quick acceleration from an idle to maximum rpm. The boat is nimble enough to drive to suit your skier or wakeboard and responsive to the helm. Wound right out on the harbour I managed to see about 51.8 mph (45.00 knots) on the GPS speedo, running a 19” prop on the Bravo 1 drive. This compares to 46mph (40 knots) for the Hyundai SeasAll S250 @ 250hp coupled to a Bravo 3 leg with 21” props in the SD7. The first Xcalibur had a ‘soft’ launch in early 2015 and while it is only now that the marketing and promotion for the boat have started, five have been sold, with another three sales pending with the new Mercruiser engine package.
The forward areas of the Xcalibur are identical to the Explorer and SD7, although as already mentioned there has been an upgrade in the finish to suit the new style and image of the boat. The cabin has a 2m berth, storage under and in side trays, good headroom and is a comfortable area to overnight. There is access to the deep forepeak anchor locker but with the addition of a Maxwell RC6 or RC8 capstan you can do all your anchoring from the helm.
I love the way CSB Huntsman and, in fact, most South Island boat builders do the split bow rails and drop down bow ladder, something uncommon in North Island built boats. The layout is very traditional with the twin berths complete with a couple of infills to make a very large sleeping pad. There is provision for a head under the forward squab and with the sliding grp door/step you have plenty of privacy. CSB Huntsman uses local Christchurch screen manufacturer, Sea Thru for their large wrap around screen. Solid and almost totally welded, the screen has a fold-out centre section for easy access through to the foredeck. Interestingly, the sliding door/step and the opening windscreen has been a feature of CSB Huntsman boats since 1996. This means the side decks are eliminated, giving maximum width in the cabin and forward areas of the cockpit. The forward bulkhead features a recessed tray, drink holder and glovebox on the port side, with a generous helm area to starboard. On our test boat, the instrumentation and electronics were minimal, but again, this is an area you can customise. There is provision for a pair of 7” MFD screens or one 10” or you could go for a complete Mercruiser Vesselview, which is a total onboard management system.
Steering options include basic rotary through to hydraulic or power steering with a fully adjustable steering helm from BLA. Seating options are varied, with the standard package a single gas pedestal helm (4-way adjustable) and a back to back king-queen. There is huge storage under the king/queen with both top or fully hinged access. Cockpit storage is in the normal top and bottom shelves, plus a large underfloor ski locker that is long enough for wakeboards and skis. For fishermen or divers, it’s also a great wet locker.
PRACTICAL TRANSOM SPACE
Down aft, the Xcalibur has come in for some special attention, with the extra space available from the shorter engine box now taken with a single moulded bin seat, as opposed to twin bins in the Crusader. This can be used for dry or wet storage and a neat feature is the way it can be moved to the starboard side of the cockpit to form a sun lounger. Under the transom is an extra large storage area, which takes care of the batteries and a whole heap of gear. Mechanics will love the engine box, which opens two ways to allow ease of access to all the service areas of the engine. Geoff is very proud of his 1100 mm long boarding platform, complete with a none skid SeaDek closed-cell EVA material. Complete with the Xcalibur logo, the material will not absorb water, is very durable and shock absorbing. There is also a recessed telescopic ladder, neatly tucked out of the way when not required. Overall the Xcalibur concept works and provides a genuine cross-over option. If you or your family are serious about fishing, as well as wakeboarder/skier and don’t want to have to own two boats, then the Xcalibur might be just what you need.