A brand new Malibu Response TXi

Malibu Discontinuing Ski Boats? Here’s What We Know So Far

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Malibu discontinuing ski boats? Here’s what we know so far

A brand new Malibu Response TXi

The end of an era? (image: Malibu Boats Australia)

By Jack Burden


Rumors have emerged within the waterskiing community regarding the potential discontinuation of Malibu’s Response TXi model. While Malibu has yet to make an official announcement, multiple sources have speculated that the future of the company’s ski boats may be in jeopardy.

The company, which manufactures Malibu, Axis, and Cobalt boat lines, is facing significant financial trouble. Malibu’s stock price plummeted following a sharp decline in revenue, as revealed in their most recent quarterly earnings report. Adding fuel to the fire, Dennis Kelley, the longtime National Promo Team Director of ski program, was reportedly let go by the organization.

Kelley, who celebrated 30 years with Malibu in late 2022 and managed their ski program for much of that time, is uncertain about the future of the TXi. While Return to Baseline has reached out to Malibu for comment, no response has been received thus far.

Update: Malibu confirms that they will continue production of the TXi, albeit with reduced tournament support

Malibu dealers and others close to the organization have not received any news of changes to the program from the company at this stage, leaving us cautiously optimistic that the rumors may be unfounded. However, the plausibility of one of the big three manufacturers ceasing production underscores the tenuous situation of three-event skiing. The limited market leaves us dependent on the legacy goodwill of boat manufacturers, who typically earn much higher margins on their other products.

Malibu’s recent stockholders’ earnings call portrayed a bleak outlook, reflecting broader industry challenges. CEO Jack Springer candidly acknowledged the tough quarter, attributing it to economic uncertainty and soft retail demand. Expressing his frustration, Springer remarked, “It is a tough market to say the least.”

Bruce Beckman, Malibu’s CFO, underscored the severity of the company’s financial predicament, stating, “We anticipate a year-over-year decline in annual net sales ranging from a mid to high 30s percentage point decrease.”

The Tennessee-based boat manufacturer, founded in Merced, California in 1982, quickly rose to prominence for its innovative ski boats. Over the years, the company expanded its offerings to include wake boats, capitalizing on the rise in popularity of wake sports. Today, the company manufactures boats in Tennessee, California, and Australia.

The rumors of discontinuation have sent shockwaves through the waterskiing community, raising concerns about the future of the sport. Athletes like Regina Jaquess and Thomas Degasperi, Malibu’s remaining water ski athletes, face the loss of their primary sponsor. Additionally, the fate of the longstanding Malibu Open tournament hangs in the balance, casting a shadow over the 2024 season.

Moreover, dwindling competition and production in the ski boat market pose significant challenges for water skiers. The rising cost of boats, coupled with a smaller supply, could further inflate prices and limit accessibility to the sport. In recent years, the Response TXi has consistently been the most affordable top-end ski boat on the market, rivaled only by the limited run of Nautique 200s still in production.

While hopes remain that competitors like Nautique and MasterCraft would fill the void left by a potential Malibu exit, uncertainties loom large. Both companies have historically prioritized higher-margin wake boats, leaving waterski enthusiasts anxious about the future.

These are potentially challenging times for the sport of water skiing, and we remain hopeful that the rumors turn out to be untrue, or at the very least, that Malibu’s decision is only a temporary measure and that they are able to reenter the water ski market in the future.

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Jamie
24 days ago

Over priced. Average skier can’t afford ridiculous prices

Lee
23 days ago

Honestly the boats have become way to expensive for the average skier to afford. Soo many people are now waiting for used boats. Also with the rise of wake surfing the chance of finding good water is almost gone. At least wakeboard boats can handle going over surf wakes better but a ski boat can easily be swapped or airborne which is not a good choice on either. Adding access to a private lake if you can find one has also added to putting this sport out of reach and killing the future

David Waugh
23 days ago

High prices have done nothing but decimate the market for ski boats. Add to that overly complex features and high maintenance costs through unreliability and quality issues.

rod
23 days ago

That’s funny because the ski boat manufacturers have created their own demise!

Hugh Nichols
22 days ago

This really sucks for the waterski community. I have always felt that the Malibu Response, LX, LXI, & TXI were the “benchmark boats” that all other ski boats were judged.

Gregg
22 days ago

Wow,this is hard to believe, in 1989 I purchased a Malibu Skier Euro F3, one of the first in Central Wisconsin, boat,trailer, and cover was 18,000$,350 Bluewater Inboard. Ran it with no problem for 18 years, sold it to another family and boat is still running. Quality, performance, and price !!!

Paul constantino
22 days ago

It was just a matter of time that all boat manufacturers are building boats that the average Joe can not afford. And drive up the used boat market as well. I have skied many tournaments back in the day on top of the line boats . And they were 15/18,000 dollars guess those day are far gone. It’s sad when your at the boat show and they say with a smile that this one is only 175,000 dollars. GOD HELP US ALL