MasterCraft MariStar 280 VLD
Recommendation: Big Water
We were blown away when we first saw the enormity of the MariStar 280 VLD. Now entering its second year, MasterCraft's premier luxury model, all 28 feet, 3 inches of it, continues to amaze as a boat like nothing else you'll find in our guide.
The 280 is ideal for cruising all day with a load of people on a big lake, even if you forget the tow rope. Aside from the size, the most striking feature is the two-pronged bow, which opens up more space for four passengers there (as if it needed it). The 280 also features plush wraparound seating, oversized cushions, ice bucket, Corian cutting board, freshwater sink, multiple storage compartments, integrated fiberglass swim platform with teak inlays, and almost too many speakers, drink holders and other amenities to count.
Underneath it all is a V-hull tapered from the bow with hard negative chines and a vented dual-step stern. You ride high in the water and soft through chop, with a 77-gallon fuel tank and a 385 hp 6.0L Vortec engine that can keep you cruising all day.
MariStars, and the 280 VLD (V-drive Luxury Dayboat) especially, aren't tailored for tournament-quality slalom performance, of course. What you do get is a towing machine (with removable pylon) for more adventurous free skiing – say in the nearest of the Great Lakes or along the Intracoastal – or for pulling an entire team of show skiers.
At lower speeds, the wakes are as big as you'd expect from a 5,400-pound, 114-inch-wide boat. The optional aluminum tower helps intermediate to advanced riders get their fix.
-This boat challenges big I/Os for supremacy in the day-boat market with solid V-drive performance.
-The roominess and luxury are nearly impossible to beat, with spacious seating for 15 and top-of-the-line amenities from the double-pronged bow to the oversized swim platform.
-Private restroom, freshwater sink and cutting board are among the features you rarely see in these pages.
-A walk-through between two transom sun pads allows ease of movement between the wraparound lounge and the integrated swim platform.