Champion wakeboarder Kirby Liesmann, of Kirby’s School of Wake, talks about his Stateamind/Iguana partnership, and reveals why he loves Malibu and Axis boats.
by Nathan Bechtold
When three-time wakeboarding world champion Kirby Liesmann started wakeboarding competitively at regional events around age 10, he noticed a couple of things: one, Stateamind Watersports was there; and two, they always provided a Malibu boat.
“I always seemed to perform my best whenever they used a Malibu boat to pull the contest,” he said. “Or if I had a friend that had a Malibu boat, I always seemed to enjoy riding their wakes and waves the best. So I’ve always had in my mind that these boats are awesome.”
In 2008, Kirby started giving lessons. It was a new way for him to enjoy the sport, he says, and also a way to help pass his experience along to newcomers. As his business and the Kirby’s School of Wake brand grew, Kirby met with Stateamind and Lake of the Ozarks Malibu/Axis dealer Iguana Marine Group, to talk about a partnership.
“I could tell I really liked the culture of the business,” he said. “They got behind my vision of what I wanted to do to help push the sport and get more people involved.”
Now Kirby gets to spend his days on Malibu and Axis boats (Axis is a Malibu brand), teaching people of all ages and abilities to wakeboard and wakesurf behind them.
But why these boats?
When he’s wakeboarding behind a Malibu or Axis, Kirby raves about the waves: they’ve perfected the art of crafting the ultimate wake. In addition to the stellar hull design, he attributes Malibu/Axis wave excellence to two unique features: the power wedge and the surf gate.
He calls the power wedge “one of my favorite features.” The proprietary wedge pulls the back of the boat down, creating a bigger wave. Seven different positions means the wedge can be adjusted to cater to riders’ preferences.
The controllable surf gate diverts the wake one direction or another, and the unique design causes the wake to curve further out to the side of the boat, making it even more rideable.
“It’s just so nice and easy to carve up and down it. You don’t get tossed off. You don’t have any major unexpected falls,” Kirby explained, adding, “The wave shape is so smooth and so firm. It doesn’t crumble and fall apart.”
Such a high-quality wave allows wake-surfers to pull a 360, “which I feel like is the most sought-after trick in wake surfing,” he said. “If anyone wants to learn how to do it, this wave shape tends to be the most favorable for it.”
As someone who spends hundreds of hours driving a wake sports boat every summer, Kirby is acutely aware of the things that can make a boat fun — or miserable — for the driver. Turns out, Malibu/Axis has mastered the cockpit too.
“Anybody can get behind the wheel of one of these boats and feel comfortable with it,” he said. “The boat is very simple to drive. There’s not a lot of vibration. There’s nothing annoying… I like the way they function. I like the way I feel when I’m in the boat.”
The Look & Features
Kirby loves Malibu and Axis’ aggressive styling. “They look sporty: the type of boat you would use to go out and throw some awesome tricks. They have that edgy action-sports look.” The display screens give the driver powerful control over the rider’s experience, as well as allowing easy monitoring of the boat’s settings. But an extremely cool feature is the Surf Band. It’s an armband the surfer wears that allows them to change the speed of the boat (no more thumbs-up/thumbs-down), the shape of the wave, and even the volume of the music blasting from the powerful speakers on the tower.
Kirby recommends Malibu and Axis any time he can. Here are his three picks:
The Top-Of-Line Malibu
If you are looking for a luxury wake boat with all the best options, Kirby’s recommendation is the Malibu 26LSV. This boat has everything.
- The overall size makes it great for cruising the Lake on busy days.
- The boat creates a smooth wave even at slow speeds for wakeboarders, and the surf wave is massive with tons of push.
- The luxurious details throughout the entire boat feel like you’re in a high-end sports car.
The Top-Of-Line Axis
Axis is Malibu’s entry-level brand. But buyers can rest assured that they will not be short-changed. Axis boats may not have quite as many bells-and-whistles as Malibu Boats, but every one of them is equipped with what counts for a great experience on the water. Take a look at the top-of-the-line Axis A245.
- The spacious layout makes it great for entertaining friends and family on the water.
- The wakes and waves are amazing for riders of all abilities.
- The 7” Garmin display screen make it super simple to adjust settings and rider profiles.
The Just-Getting Started Axis
For the more money conscious buyer who’d like to just dip a toe in the water to start when it comes to watersports, Kirby recommends the Axis T220-r.
- The smaller boat doesn’t limit the wave shaping capabilities.
- You get the same level of craftsmanship even in the lowest price point model.
- Allows for easy trailering and garage storage.
Ready to get into a Malibu or Axis? Head to Iguana in Osage Beach or call 573-355-5027. For St. Louis area buyers, contact Stateamind at 314-731-3795. Mention this Shore Magazine article and get a free one-hour lesson with Kirby himself, when you buy your Malibu or Axis boat.