Happy Thanksgiving! Maybe thanksgiving is not the best day to release a video, but it took us a few days to get the video and audio edited the way we wanted it. I have been so excited to share this with the wakesurfing community that I just can't wait....
When we started wake9 as a family we had several goals we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to promote wakesurfing as a sport the entire family can enjoy, and we wanted to help educate people about how to do it safely. Most still viewed wakesurfing as something you do when the water gets rough or when you are done with a killer wakeboard session. I always felt that if more famlies got involved, it would really grow the sport because it seemed to me that wakesurfing would appeal to both the young folks like my kids but definitely to older guys in my demographic that could do it without hurting themselves. These guys, unlike a 20 something wakeboarder, are also the guys with the $$ to go buy a boat. Seemed to me wakesurfing could really become extremely important to wake boat manufacturers when they started to see that. So one of our other goals was to see a boat actually engineered specifically for wakesurfing. We wanted to see a boat engineered to make the best wakesurf wake possible, and a loftier part of that goal was to actually be a part of that process in some way, to have a contribution. That is what this blog post is about.
A couple of months ago in September Tige asked us if we would like to play with a brand new boat they were building, the 2012 Tige Z3. At wake9 there is nothing more fun that playing with a new shiny boat, and the pictures we saw of the Z3 really piqued our interest. The boat was gorgeous, and it was rumored that it was designed to replace the aging Ve line. We loved our 24Ve and even though it took a ton of weight, it made an amazing wake. We also loved our previous RZ2, but it should was nice to get back in the cockpit of a roomy 24 foot boat. Our family is large and we are always hosting. The plan was to take a black and green Z3 brochure boat and drive it from Texas to us, but make stops and dealers and the Tige Owners reunion in Las Vegas. Ben Pigeon was driving and we were very excited. We made a trip to the World Wakesurfing event in Parker AZ and then stopped for a day at the Tige owners reunion to meet with folks, give them rides on the 24Ve, and take a peak at the new Z3. It was gorgeous, and we couldn't WAIT to see this thing surf.
These pictures are of that first prototype brochure boat and taken at Lake Mead during the Tige Owners reunion.]
We didn't get a chance to ride in the Z3 at all at the event because we spent the entire time towing with the 24Ve. One of the guys while we were riding took us aside and said they threw some sacs in the Z3 to surf with it and had trouble making a decent wakesurf wave, and he hoped I would have better luck. I didn't think much of it, sometimes its hard to find a boats sweet spot.
The boat made it to us just a few days after that and we planned a day trip with sacs and lead and invited our buddy Dennis Horton to help. Dennis is great because he is the perfect wake tester. His size and weight and wake snobbishness make him perfect. RJ can ride just about anything, but Dennis needs a good wake with lots of push and a smooth transition to ride behind. We weighted the boat with every configuration we could think of. We tested with just the stock setup and then went from there, different list angles, you name it. It surfed, but it definitely had issues. It was not as good as the RZ2 or the 24Ve. The plan was for us to take this boat, buy it to replace the RZ2 and surf all year with it. It was to also tow our West Coast Open event. The wake was not good enough to tow a comp or for us to host all the other wake snobs we had helped create. ;-) It was very difficult because we felt bad but we gave Tige detailed and honest feedback. The boat can surf recreationally, but its not at the par of the RZ2. This was also difficult because the new Z3 interior was the best I have seen. I can say without hesitation that every member of my family felt the Z3 was the most comfortable boat we had ever been in. It also felt so safe, the rub rail was higher than normal and you didn't feel anywhere near the water when weighted down. My wife was particularly frustrated with me that I would send this boat back, just cause it didn't surf as well.
We had no idea where it would go from there, but I started to get pictures and videos of some testing. This Z3 was not final production, but in order to make it better, it would require significant hull changes which I knew would have to be SUPER expensive for any boat company. So we decide to give an RZ4 a try and Tige allowed us to use another brochure boat to see if we liked it and if it could meet our needs. I know, tough life, huh? The RZ4 has been great, and we will be putting out some great video and pics. SO MUCH room.
So in late October something happens that I don't expect. Danny Gutierrez from Tige (he is the designer of the boats) gets on iChat with me and asks me to look at a video of Dominic Legace surfing. I look at it and the wake looks great but doesn't look like the RZ2 or the 24Ve. I ask what it is and he says its the Z3. My first reaction was one of shock and I was sick to my stomach. My first thought was that they found a setup for the boat that we missed and I felt like a fool. We REALLY tried hard to weight every combination we could think of and never saw this beautiful long wake with such a smooth transition. Then Danny tells me that the actually took the boat back and decided that they didn't want the Z3 to be an OK recreational surf boat. They wanted it to be a badass wakeboard and wakesurf boat. They had spent hundreds of hours cutting and altering a hull to get it right. They wanted RJ and I to fly down to Texas to see for ourselves and also to give our input if any other changes were needed, or sign off so they could go back into production. They had held up on Z3 production this entire time! Well, they didn't have to ask us twice. We always wanted to take a trick to the Tige factory someday, and this was a great reason to jump on a plane. So I called my buddy Dennis because we can't test a boat without him. We packed up our camera gear and such and headed out for the 16-18 of November. RJ, Maddie, Dennis and I were extremely excited to see how the new Z3 was going to work. Dennis and I were giddy, because we had both dreamed of some day seeing a boat get manufactured with wakesurfing as a priority.
So we get there and meet everyone and take a tour with Charlie Pigeon (owner/founder), Danny, and Rick Correll (President). What an amazing place. That factory tour was cool, but we will blog about that in the future. The best part of the tour was that they took us to the "skunk works". There was this large room that was closed off from the rest of the factory that a normal tour does not include. I was not allowed to take any pictures or video, and I cannot even speak of details. But I will say this; I saw in that room something that was both incredibly sexy and incredibly ugly at the same time. I actually said that out loud and I heard someone retort, "You just described my Ex-wife". That was funny, that person shall remain nameless. ;-) What I saw was a test rig that was built for testing wakes. Dude, I SO wish I could have taken pictures and posted it. Any one reading this that is a tinkerer with wakes would have immediately seen the beauty of it. I believe Duffy Mahoney would have got inside, asked for a pillow and a six pack and never leave. He would have been home.