Since I knew what they were, I’ve wanted one of these. I learned to ski behind two different family fish-and-ski boats, each with just about enough horsepower to pull a skinny kid out of the water on two skis, and then with some difficulty, one big wooden ski found in the garage of our then-new home in Michigan. At one point, I graduated to a 1974 Jolly Roger with a 125hp Johnson outboard, a low-slung runabout purpose-built for hooning away the day on the lake with beer, friends, and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the 8-track.
The Jolly Roger was capable of pulling big high-school and college students out of the water on a slalom ski, and it did actually get up to speeds where barefooting was achievable, but it was not a proper towboat. For that, I needed an inboard, and back then, I knew about Ski Nautiques and Mastercrafts. Ski Nautiques were what they used at Culver Military Academy when I went there, but the Mastercrafts always looked sleeker and better-proportioned.
Both are great boats, but there’s a big Ford-vs-Chevy-type debate among ski boat owners as to which brand is the best. Mastercraft picked up on technical advances a little faster than Correct Craft did: Fiberglass stringers and flooring, fuel injection, etc. and in addition to the looks, the technical improvements made me gravitate toward MC as well.
Cut to 35 years later, now back in Michigan, on a lake, and my attention turned back toward that long-ago bucket-list item, a Mastercraft ski boat. The 83-85 Stars and Stripes (officially the ’19 Skier’) was on the list, and the 91-94 Prostar supposedly has the best hull MC ever made, but the gunship lines of the 87-90 models are what sealed it for me. This one showed up on a marketplace site a couple of weeks ago.
It’s in that sweet spot of being mechanically sound (as far as I know), with no significant damage, but has a worn/faded appearance and it also needs a mighty cleaning.
It’s October now, so the ski season is well and truly over, but I was able to bring it home and get it out on the water for a shakedown cruise. The transmission fluid level was a little low, making it slip in hard right turns under power, which was quickly cured with a few more ounces of ATF. All the gauges work, even the one completely fogged over, and the speed is accurate, matching against my phone’s GPS speedo app.