The 21ft (6.4m) B52 Widebody from MB Boats is a dedicated wake boat, but it serves as an enjoyable family day cruiser, too. There’s loads of room, the seats are inviting, the drivetrain is quiet and smooth, the equipment level is impressive, and its handling will keep both the skipper and crew very happy.
Each MB boat is built to order. It takes four to six weeks to build each boat at the firm’s Californian production facility and annual worldwide production falls somewhere between 300 and 350 boats, so MB owners can be confident they have something unique.
Surprisingly, the cost of an MB boat can be less than that of many of MB’s competitors. Overheads are kept low and the family company has no desire to grow too big. This B52 Widebody is $75,300 ready to go – on a trailer and with a bunch of standard features.
In concept the B52 is typical of wake boats, with generous seating and storage in a bowrider layout powered by a rear-mounted V8 with V-drive transmission. High topsides offer a deep, safe, and dry cockpit, while the B52 uses its ‘Widebody’ dimensions (with a 2.54m beam) and full perimeter seating to accommodate up to 16 people.
Despite this, the external styling manages to avoid looking bulky. Although the size is obvious, the lines and colours combine for a very attractive overall appearance.
The construction is tough, with hand-laid fibreglass forming a structural chassis, including the engine stringers and integral ballast tanks, with no use of wood or foam. The deck is butt-joined to the hull and secured with a continuous band of Kevlar for strength and durability, topped by a stainless steel rub-rail.
For trouble-free cleaning the carpets are held in place by magnets, allowing them to be easily removed so the underlying non-slip fibreglass can be hosed out through the self-draining aft cockpit. The upholstery, meanwhile, features triple-density foam padding under 52oz maritime vinyl, with triple hand-stitching for durability.
The focus of the boat is, of course, watersports – mainly wakeboarding and surfing, but also skiing. However, if there’s someone out the back there has to be someone at the helm, and on the B52 that’s a very rewarding place to be.
The skipper’s seat is comfortable and supportive and it comes with a flip-up bolster. It’s adjustable fore-aft and can be swivelled to face inwards when stationary. The tilt-adjustable wheel will suit skippers of just about any size.
The dash panel achieves that utopian mix of style and practicality, giving the skipper everything he or she needs to know at a glance. Also in the dash area are controls for the ballast tanks and the stereo, while down to the right are four drink holders that can equally serve as mini storage spots for wallets, mobile phones, and so on.
An optional trim tab (not present on our test boat) can be fitted across the central planing pad of the undersides at the transom, and the skipper can use it to alter both the wake and the attitude of the boat. It’s undoubtedly useful, although the standard ballast tanks already give a wide range of options for personal wake preferences.
Both the wheel and the throttle/shift give a smooth and very linear sense of control and there’s minimal bow rise as it accelerates from rest. The B52 also hangs on tight through sharp cruising-speed turns, its prop showing no sign of cavitation. Charging through our own wash gave a soft passage and clearly indicated the forward hull design would keep those in the front cockpit dry and safe.
At 2500rpm the MB showed 30.4km/h on the GPS; the Indmar 5.7lt V8 was just a background murmur. The mid-range was much the same anywhere from 3000rpm and 39.9km/h, through 4000rpm and 54.8km/h up to the top end of 5000rpm for a still-smooth and quiet 63.5km/h. The engine was new so there’s probably more performance to come, but already the B52 was everything any skipper could want in terms of handling and performance.
The ballast tank system is effective and efficient, the twin 410lt tanks being fed by two 4in inlets in the transom via gate valves operated from the helm. It takes only around 60 seconds to fill the tanks via gravity feed and not much more to drain them, and each tank can be fine-tuned to produce wakes to suit all tastes.
There are only a few options available for the B52 such as tower speakers and lights, the trim tab, a heater with a ‘hot hose’, a heated seat, underwater transom lights and additional interior lights, but just about everything else is standard. That includes the tower with board racks; the bimini and a full boat cover; dual batteries; the stereo system; four lift-up cleats; GPS cruise control; and the ballast system. The fully galvanised dual-axle trailer comes complete with electronic disc brakes and a swing-away drawbar.
With all that for $75,300, the 21ft B52 Widebody is surely worth investigating if you’re in the market for a top-shelf wake boat. ¿
SPECIFICATIONS: MB BOATS B52 21FT WIDEBODY
Capacity: 16 persons
Fuel capacity: 246lt
Ballast capacity: 820lt/816kg
Power: Indmar 5.7lt V8, 261kW (350hp)
Price from: $75,300
Price as tested: $75,300
For more information, contact: MB Boats Australia, tel: 0434 984 306, or go to: MBBoats. com.au.