Polar Bear 2013 Summary
Best Year Ever!
I know its probably a cliche to say "best year yet", but I can't help it because its true. Honestly, this event scares me. Its so hard to lock down the boats and there always seems to be an issue just before the date. A boat got sold, a dealer's insurance didn't work out, etc. This year we decided to try using the boats of wakesurf enthusiasts, specifically looking for Polar Bear alumni. How did it go? Well, this will be the way we do it from now on. It worked so well and I think this is what made this year the best ever. Each boat was dialed in and there were no issues with a dealer or manufacturer worried about weight or lacking in knowledge on how to properly weight the boat for this crowd. All 6 boats were great with different characteristics and different levels of great. They were also great on both sides. I drove around in the wake9 chase pontoon both days admiring the wakes and riders, so much fun.
We had boards from several companies that were shipped or driven to us from several manufacturers. Brigade, Doomswell, Evercarve, Idol, Shredstixx Custom and Soulcraft. I was really surprised that all of the companies did well. Not that I expected any to tank, but with so many newcomers to the wakesurf board market I wasn't sure how they would all do. There were people that had favorites from every company. There were definitely some that stood out more than others but I will leave that to when we compile all of the reviews from riders by next week. Suffice it to say, every one of these companies is worth a look when you are ready for a new wakesurf board. Each of these companies offer one or more custom boards that make the stuff from the big wakeboard manufacturers seem like ironing boards. Stay tuned for those board reviews. Thanks so much to the companies that were willing to send boards.
We had 30 riders from all over the country and a couple from Canada. Every year we seem to reach out a bit farther from Northern California. There is no skill level or knowledge level required for this event. You just have to either be obsessed with wakesurfing, or desire to gain the obsession. If you are not obsessed before you attend, you will be when you leave. We had couples, singles, old folks, teenagers, you name it. There was one 19 year old girl that loves to wakesurf and has watched lots of wake9 videos to help progress with the sport. She signed up on her own and drove 8 hours and didn't know a soul. She had a blast and has lots of new friends. There were several great stories like this one.
Half of the riders were goofy and half were regular. That was strange and has never happened before. We usually prepare for 15-20% of the riders being goofy. I can only guess that because wake9 has made "goofy equality" such an important issue, that we have attracted many mixed families and couples. They came to the right event.
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I think more than half of us stayed on houseboats at the north end of our beautiful home lake, Lake Oroville in Northern California. The Harringtons really pushed me to get as many people into houseboats this year, and since Lake Oroville Marina was a sponsor and made it SUPER attractive, we went for it. That idea was a winner. I hope next year everyone can stay in the houseboats. There was night surfing, dinner together and just tons of fun on the lake chatting until all hours of the night about our favorite water sport. RJ really took advantage of the situation. His mom had to stay home to bring lunch in both days so we had to fend for ourselves with food like hot dogs and sandwiches to eat for dinner. RJ would eat our food and then go to each houseboat and look for the best cook and ask if they had something good to eat. He went from houseboat to houseboat getting fed. He loved every minute of it.
The weather was great for October with mostly calm glass and a bit of wind in the afternoon. It was sunny and in the 70s and the water was about 65 degrees. Most people wore some type of wetsuit but we were all really impressed by Jamie from Canada. She wore a bikini both days and acted like she was in the tropics. Did I mention she was from Canada?
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The riders were separated into 6 groups of 4 or 5, one group for each boat. We did our best to group riders based on their size and skill. We took the 3 dozen boards and spread them across each boat, about 6 per boat. There were 2 75 minute surf sessions on Saturday morning, then lunch, then 2 more 75 minute sessions. There were 2 more 75 minute sessions on Sunday, lunch, then clean up. Each boat received a notebook for notes and comments about boards and boats and a stopwatch so that each rider got the same time riding, about 15-20 minutes a session. That may not sound like a lot, but do that 6 times over 2 days and even the most fit riders got jelly legged. Its a lot of surfing.
Each rider found a new quiver of boards on each boat and was encouraged to ride as many boards as possible and just enjoy the time. Some riders rode over 30 boards over the two days! Riders helped each other out, taught new tricks to each other, and just became like extended family. Imagine spending 6 hours in a boat over 2 days with a small group of 4-5 people. Life long friends are made at this event. Between each session we took 15 minutes to switch riders from boat to boat and some boats would switch from side to side within that time. Every boat had no problem making the switch in that time.
We placed GoPro Hero 3 cameras on 3 boats at a time to cover all boats and then I roamed the entire area trying to visit each boat during each session taking pictures and video with my Canon 60D.
The Boats and Drivers
OK, some of you have just skipped down to this part haven't you? Three of the drivers were polar bear alumni that came to the event in previous years without a boat or with a "not so great" wakesurf boat and have since gone out and traded up. They were here to pay forward and share, and I think also wanted to show off a bit. We didn't have set rules for weighting but encouraged the drivers/owners to weight their boats using a "weekend warrior" setup. More than stock, big, fun, but hopefully sane. Each driver was reimbursed for their gas and given a check to get their boats detailed after the event.
Derek's 2013 MB B52 23WB
Derek's 2013 MB B52 23WB
When I said "showing off", I meant Derek. When I said "hopefully sane", I was thinking of his B52. Derek is proud of his boat, and he should be because it was mackin'. Derek is a tweaker/tinkerer and is not afraid to slam that boat. It was slammed. Many people would not feel good or completely safe weighting their own boat like this and I would never recommend this on a busy lake. For this event it was a blast and everyone loved it. I will be posting specific setups in the full recap but I can say Derek had several modifications and loaded the boat with over 4250 lbs of ballast. The amazing thing is that the wake held up on both sides with this much weight and even the most sensitive riders said the boat still had a good transition and the surfers thought it had a great lip as well. I would say this boat is the tweakers paradise. You load it and mod it, and it responds. You have to be ok with a big mud flap and taking on a bit of water at times, but if that is ok with you you will like this boat because the wake was great. The only real negative thing I can think of about the wake is that it was one of the least adjustable of the group. At the same time, it seemed to make everyone happy and a few people giggle like school girls. Especially the two school girls in attendance.
Here are some photo highlights. I tried to pick pictures that show an accurate representation of what you would have witnessed first hand. There is also pics to show how it looks weighted at rest and at speed.
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Dan's 2013 Malibu 23 LSV w/o Surf Gate
Dan's 2013 Malibu 23 LSV w/o Surf Gate
This boat was the biggest surprise for a couple of reasons. First, I have never met Dan before but he had contacted me a few times about hooking up on Lake Oroville with his Bu. I was a bit nervous but he also rep'd for Brigade and from talking to him he seemed to know what he was doing and I wanted to get a Malibu in attendance, especially the 23 LSV. I have always thought the 23 LSV would be the best of the Malibus for surfing based on pictures and videos I have seen. I wasn't wrong about Dan or the boat. It was definitely a crowd pleaser. This wave was LONG, and when I say long, I mean LONG. It still had lots of power with all of that length. It wasn't the tallest wake, but tall enough and everyone loved it. Even the most sensitive riders thought it had a great transition. Surfers also liked it because it was very firm with a nice lip. This wake was also very adjustable using the power wedge. Dan said he kept the wedge in its neutral position for skimmers and 2 clicks for surfers. You can see the difference in the pictures.
Dan used about 3000 lbs of ballast, lead and water. 3000 lbs is normally in the "sane" category for me for most boats with decent freeboard but in the spirit of full disclosure several riders mentioned a very wet ride. The hull made a great wake though, so maybe malibu will add a bit of freeboard to this boat so that it can take that weight in stride.
Dan was VERY nervous when switching to goofy for the first time. It was like 70 degrees outside but I swear the dude was sweating. He made his best guess and went out and when I can by in the pontoon I saw nothing but smiles and he was cheering, I am not exaggerating. The wake was every bit as good as the regular side and he found it right away with very little difference in weighting to the regular side. This boat is now added to my short list of great wakesurf boats with a great wake on both sides.
I need to mention the lack of Surf Gate, because I know its going to be asked. I asked Dan why he didn't have Surf Gate installed. He said that you can make a decent wake with SG, but the best wake is weighted and listed. He also said that if you weight the boat like you would wake boarding, its not that great and you need more weight which makes plenty of sense to me. When you deploy the SG with that extra surf weight in the rear the SG is mostly ineffective. This also matches up with what we have found in our own testing. You can get a decent wake with evenly distributed weight, but it's better listed. I think the SG and that type of system is perfectly suited for those folks that want to wakeboard as their primary sport and then surf, but it seems that the best wakesurf wake still comes from weighting the boat with some degree of list.
Ok, so on to the pictures. Did I mention that wake is LONG!
IMG_6469 by wake9, on Flickr
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Kyle and Korinn's 2013 Tige Z1
Kyle and Korinn's 2013 Tige Z1
Kyle and Korrinn purchased their boat from California Marine Sports early this year and they love it. We met them at the West Coast Open and helped them setup their boat for a great wake. They have become regulars on our lake and with our crew and are completely obsessed with wakesurfing. They are a mixed couple, Kyle being regular and Korinn being goofy. They both love to wakesurf equally as near as I can tell.
The Z1 is setup with the same ballast and prop as our Z3 which is about 3000 lbs. K & K are often surfing on their own without extra riders so they wanted a bit extra which works great for them. With all of the extra weight of people in the event this boat may have also been weighted beyond the taste of some people so that should be considered. I would say it was more sane than the Bu and B52 and you can see that in the pictures with the height of the rub rail out of the water at speed. This was arguably the prettiest boat of the bunch and the fit, finish and style is definitely at the top for most people. This boat is very familiar to us and made a great wake on both sides and was adjustable with the taps and Convex VX. I think the only other mod on this boat is the 1235 prop along with the added plug and play ballast.
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Z1 2 by wake9, on Flickr
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Dave's 2003 Tige 22V
Dave has a great story. He came to the Polar Bear in 2011 if I remember and didn't own a wakesurf boat at the time but loved to wakesurf. After the event he was obsessed and was jonesing for a great wake. Dave didn't have the budget for a new boat and was looking for a great used boat for a bargain. He asked for our help and we narrowed down the list for him and gave him some pointers for ballast and mods in addition to what he learned at the event. Dave purchased his 22V for $17,500. That is not a typo. I really wanted to see Dave pull for this event because I wanted people to see that you can wakesurf on a budget. Dave has a custom system with about 2500 lbs of ballast, a mud flap and a great wave. The thing that amazes me with this boat is that it may not hold up to other boats with tech, beauty, features, but it definitely holds up when it comes to the wake. I didn't hear any issues with taking in water or issues of that nature but water definitely was at or above the rub rail at speed. The 22V is a deep boat with lots of freeboard. Great wake on both sides.
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Rob and Jannelle's 2012 Supreme V226
Rob and Jannelle's 2012 Supreme V226
Rob and Jannelle are also veterans of the Polar Bear and now its greatest evangelists. They have become great friends and we love them a lot. Our friendship is a great testimony to stepping out of your comfort zone and sharing. We met them on the dock one day asking us about wakesurfing because they recognized us from our site and videos. They had an older DD Centurion skier and were trying to wakesurf. They were struggling with the boat and boards. I gave them some pointers for weighting but also grabbed a couple of good custom boards and handed them to them and told them to give them a try. They were pretty surprised that I would trust them with the boards. I told them to put them back in our boat when they were done and not to worry about it. Later we invited them to a Polar Bear event and the rest is history. You have not enjoyed wakesurfing with others until you have been out with Rob and heard him "Yahoo!" across the lake while wakesurfing or cheering someone on. His enthusiasm is infectious, his heart is huge, and every wakesurf crew needs a guy like Rob in it. Jannelle may not be as boisterous but she is every bit obsessed with wakesurfing as Rob. After this polar bear event, they went surfing on Monday again. They are nuts, you gotta love it.
Rob and Jannelle have a great Supreme V226 that throws a mean, consistent wave and its awesome on both sides. This boat is definitely weighted beyond stock but I would consider it in the sane category and most people would be comfortable with this setup on a daily basis. The wave is not very adjustable on the fly but it always seems to satisfy everyone. This boat doesn't quite have all of the frills of many new boats but is very roomy and is a great value.
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Plumbers can surf too!
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The Wake9 Z3
The Wake9 Z3
If you follow our stuff at all you know all about this 2012 Tige Z3 and have seen lots of pictures and video. Its our favorite wakesurf boat but I am sure we are biased to some degree. We have been fortunate that Tige Inc has given us the opportunity to help shape this wake so of course we are partial, but I would still say it is one of the best all around wakesurf boats made and again, definitely our personal favorite. It has the fit and finish (plus a bit of wear and tear) that Kyle's Z1 has but more room to stretch out. It makes a big, long, adjustable wake on both sides and has proven to be extremely reliable. We have towed this boat around the country, literally from coast to coast and it has about 1000 hours on it. I think we are going to be trading up this winter. Not because we don't love this boat, but because its time to dial in another. That is what we do and we enjoy that very much. With that said, this boat will definitely be marked as the best boat with the best memories that the Garcia family has ever had.
The Z3 is stock with the pro stock ballast system and then plug and play wake9 ballast sacks. It has the Convex VX and an ACME 1235 prop. We run only water ballast and have a crossover pump to help us switch sides faster, within about 5 minutes. We are running about 3000 lbs of water ballast and the Z3 is very deep and along with the 226 was probably the sanest setup at the event. I would say that most would be comfortable with this setup all the time.
There is one more thing. When we first put the VX on the Z3 it required more weight than without. At the polar bear last year I actually made sure my fat butt was in the boat to make sure we had the best wake. With the setup we have now that is not necessary. The VX doesn't require any more weight than it did without the VX, and it may even need less. I was not in the Z3 for the entire event and I can surf this setup with ease with no additional ballast and only 3 of my kids in the boat, even riding to the back of the wake. We worked with Tige engineers to modify our VX and taps plate to optimize the curvature, angle, and mating with the Convex hull to maximize something called the Coanda effect. I will explain this more at a later time but the short of it is that the convex vx in addition to the convex hull is like an upside down aircraft wing that sucks the boat down in the water. A video is coming to demonstrate. We even went so far as to remove our plug and play sacks and go back to the stock sacks and test. It was better than stock without the VX. Don't worry, I will have pictures and video of that later.
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Awesome summary man, I wish we made the trek from Canada...sigh...stupid 1800 km distance..... Next year for sure!
Nice write up! What's a "mud flap?"
Rub it in, why don't ya Robert!! I'm coming next year! If all those listed boats are in the "sane" category, what would you call my Avy?? LOL insane maybe???HAHA
So cool to see all the different waves. Nice work!
Flap is one of my favorite- most useful inventions for surfing.
Just kidding Duff, its all yours. Works well.
cool event, props to all of you but if its 70 degrees and water is in the 60's then this really should not be called "polar bear"! ...just saying....
Agreed about the "polar bear"ness of it. Those are our summer temps up here. We just started to HAVE to pull out the wet suits here and the water temps got into the 40s and 50s!
I have talked to my wife and she approved of my plan to roll down next year. She'll go to her family, I'll go surfing. Can't wait until next year, it looks like a lot of choice riding. I'll make sure to leave the suit at home though, don't need it for the bath water down there :D
Get a houseboat room and bring her. Better yet, get her surfing and in the event. Ask Don and Linda Bethke about that. She was so nervous, but had a blast.
I'm planning on a houseboat room. Gonna caravan down with my buddy Trayson, when we get to the point where the roads split between heading to the bay area to her family and heading to Paradise (love the name for the event too) We'll split ways, she'll go visit her family for the weekend and I'll head over to surf all weekend and we'll meet up again after.
I've been trying all year to get her out on the water with us, at least to hang out. She's pregnant and due in December and we have our 2 1/2 year old to watch. She came out once, but that was it. She hasn't been too fond of coming out, or of me going out half the time as well. I hope she comes around next season.
I would love to get her out on the water more. She grew up on the water on Lake Don Pedro, like I did up here on the Willamette and the Columbia, but somewhere along the line her passion for it died. Our son loves it and I'm planning on trying some tandem surfing with him next season. Hopefully when we have 3 against 1 for going to play in the water she'll be outnumbered and have to give in to having fun!
I understand, your enjoyment will skyrocket when you do it together, at least that has been the case for most.
Excellent write-up Rob! I had a great time sharing in my excitement with all the great people at the event. BTW, I wasn't "VERY" nervous...just "kinda" nervous. I'm glad I could be there and can't wait till next year!
And when it was good, you were ecstatic! Again, too much fun. That event is going to keep my jones up all winter.
For any of you wanting to get your wives etc., into the sport this is the way to do it. I guarantee they will have a blast.. Linda is already talking about next year! As for myself I learned a great deal about boards and what suits my weight and riding style best. I have already ordered two new boards because of this event. New Soulcraft and Brigade boards coming my way soon!!
Thanks to you and your great family, the Harringtons and everyone else who made this possible. We will be back next year!
All it takes, is to go ropeless once, and your hooked! Good for Linda! And you too! Don! She will understand your passion now! And won't be mad at all the money we spend on fuel!!
sorry that I missed it this year!!!... maybe I'll have to plan some vacation time and bring my boat down next year.
Looks like you all had a great time. This year with a senior HS Cheer Leader didnt want to miss her game. Next year my Sanger 237 LTZ might be in the mix. I love surfing and pulling people so sounds like a great event.
We are just waiting for all of the riders to fill out their reviews. Its like herding cats! ;-) We will have the reviews and 2 videos.
you need to get a wrangler for these surf cats
No Centurion this year Robert? That's unfortunate. I was looking forwarded to reviews of the RAMFILL and CATS.
We contacted centurion many times. They actually had a FX-44 at a dealer only 2 hours away the weekend before. Too hard dealing with Manufacturers.
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