MasterCraft doesn't want the 1998 MariStar 200 VRS to be known as just another V-drive ski boat. Instead, MasterCraft wants this new design to change the industry's definition of a high-end runabout. The new definition assumes that a premier sport boat will be built to the highest standards, provide a superior level of interior
comfort and amenities, combine the spacious cockpit of a rear-mounted engine with the reliability and simplicity of a shaft drive, and deliver running and towing performance unrivaled by any comparable craft on the market.
Obtaining this lofty goal required much more than moving the engine to the rear of a ski boat and changing a few seats. In fact, the MasterCraft design team started with a blank slate to create a new hull and interior configuration for 1998, one that was designed specifically for an inboard V-drive layout.
The MariStar 200 features a deep-V bow section for a smoother ride in chop, inverted chines for spray deflection and a wider midsection with a lower center of gravity for improved overall stability. By matching hull geometry to the shaft angle of the V-drive, MasterCraft engineers created a boat that rides level at all speeds, with none of the porpoising and bow rise associated with traditional inboard/outboard-driven runabouts.
The interior configuration also seeks to combine the best of both runabouts and ski boats. The driver will find a Morse competition throttle for precision speed control, a full complement of custom-built gauges and tilt wheel set against a rich wood-grain dashboard and an ergonomically crafted adjustable driver's seat positioned for optimum access, visibility and driving posture.
The U-shaped seating lounge not only creates extra room for passengers to stretch out, but also bridges the gap between inboard-style observer's benches and forward-facing runabout seats. At rest, the cockpit becomes a conversation pit, complete with a removable table. When the 200 is running, passengers have a variety of seating options, including a rear-facing vantage to monitor skiers.
With a top speed in the high 40s and towing acceleration in the low seven-second range, the MariStar 200 at our 1998 tests delivered a combination of low-end power and top speed that neither conventional inboards nor I/O runabouts of comparable size and power could match. Those who want even more get-up-and-go could opt for a Corvette LT-1 V-8 with a 340-hp output.
Skiing features include a full-width teak platform, a rear-mounted, low-profile WearGuard pylon, in-floor ski storage, tournament speedometer, large windshield-mounted mirror and an AWSA endorsement for water-sports use.
Our test skiers gave high marks for the 200's low spray and well-defined boarding wakes. As our wakeboard specialist put it: "You get good, clean lift off a smooth ramp, with plenty of size for getting air."
In many regards, this boat defies conventional comparisons. It provides significantly superior towing performance as compared with sport runabouts of the same size, and considerably more versatility and interior comfort than tournament inboards.
For buyers caught somewhere between tournaments and waterfront cruising, the MariStar 200 and its larger sibling, the 225 VRS, represent an exciting new direction in recreational boating.