Tigé’s new sub-22-footer is an overachiever in roominess and pumping out a monster wake.
Author: Alan Jones
Texas is a different sort of place, as evidenced by our drive to Possum Kingdom Lake on Interstate 20, which has a posted speed limit of 80 mph (85 mph is the highest). We were towing some serious trailer candy in the form of the stylishly hip Tigé Z1, which came straight from the showroom floor of the ultra-modern Tigé plant in Abilene. And while Possum Kingdom Lake sounds rustic, it’s home to four-star resort The Cliffs, appropriately named for the scenic bluffs that ring the lake. It was the perfect backdrop for a day on the water in Tigé’s all-new incarnation of its mid-sized surf-wave generator.
The big news from Tigé this year is the introduction of the Convex VX hull extension, a wing-like device under the swim platform that makes our 21.5-foot Z1 perform like a much larger wakesurfing boat. And if we learned anything during our stay in Texas, it’s this: Bigger is better. The Convex VX system is designed to work in concert with the ConvexV hull, which curves up toward the stern and the bow, allowing the Z1 to settle in the water naturally to produce a great wake even before adding ballast. The beauty of the Convex VX system is that while it extends the running surface of the boat by 2.5 feet, it only makes contact with the water at surfing speeds around 10 mph, so when the Z1 goes faster, drag is minimized for better fuel economy and performance. In addition to providing more plowing surface, the Convex VX extension has a tunnel in the center of the leading edge that funnels water down and back, to channel the thrust from the prop into the wake to help amplify the tall, meaty wave, which has lots of maneuvering space on the face.
There is new upholstery this year, featuring a metallic look, better stain resistance and a more luxurious feel. The quilted surface offers comfortable support and better seat grip for when the driver cranks it hard over to retrieve a skier. The only feature I don’t like is the raised section at the top of the driver’s seat, which seems to be a styling element that comes at the expense of comfort. The interior design complements an ultra-rad exterior that is as much a Tigé trademark as its Alpha Z Tower, which is well integrated into the hull and has a large, easy-to-deploy Bimini that features the Surf Pocket overhead surfboard storage system. The éZ-Down system uses springs to effortlessly drop the tower rearward and to windshield height without compromising the driver’s field of vision. Unlike companies that offer the Ford Model T scheme of color choice — whatever you want, as long as it’s black — Tigé has a choice of four tower colors.
One of the benefits of the ConvexV hull on the Z1 is that you don’t need an insane amount of power to achieve decent performance. Our test boat is powered by the 5.7L PCM 343 V-8, which is the standard engine for this model. The four-blade milled CNC prop bit well, and the Z1 reached plane in 3.9 seconds. You can cut the time to plane by more than a second by deploying the Taps2 centerline trim tab. The PCM Excalibur engine has a very linear power curve, which smoothly pushed the Tigé to 30 mph in 9 seconds flat and topped out at 43.5 mph. There are several other power options that should be considered if you tend to fill up with ballast. Stepping up to a 450 hp 6.0L PCM is about a $12,000 upcharge, but that gets you more than 100 hp more. The next 100 hp jump, to the 550 hp supercharged PCM, is even more costly, being about $26k more than the base engine.
On test day, the wind was howling, and when we got away from the lee of the cliffs, PK (as Possum Kingdom is known by locals) was lumpier than Wisconsin grits. On some ski boats, such conditions require you and your ski posse to suck it up and pound away until you can’t remember the day of the week. But boaters stepping up to a Z1 from a sterndrive boat will be right at home thanks to the Taps2 wake plate, which allows them to raise and lower the bow just like their old boat. I put the plate down about halfway, which eased the bow down far enough to use the sharper leading edge of the hull to slice through the chop on the way back to the ramp.
Surfing fans will love the fact the Z1 heels over only about 8 degrees when churning up a roller. Add to that a really deep cockpit and bow section, and that oogy feeling of having your gunwale just inches above the water is a thing of the past. A clever feature of the Alpha Z Tower is that the two “horns” each have tow points, so getting a surfer up and running is easier on the rider and the driver because of the reduced pull angle.
Make no mistake, the Z1 is born to enable surfers and wakeboarders to do their respective thing. What’s really impressive about this 4,285-pound boat is you can do both sports with zero ballast on board, but unless you are pulling newbies or juniors who are working their way up the trick food chain, your boarders are going to yell, “We want more, we want more!” — to quote the girl in the kid focus group on the annoying/funny AT&T TV commercial. To enable extreme launching, Tigé has several tiers of ballast packages, starting with the Base System, which puts a pair of 250-pound tanks in the stern and a single 400-pounder up front, for a total of 900 pounds. The Surf Package has a pair of monster 600-pound ballast tanks at the stern with a single 400-pound tank in the bow, for a total of 1,600 pounds. The Pro Package sickens the Surf Package up by adding another 400-pounder up front, for a total of 2,000 pounds. Let’s just say you don’t want to cruise by two bubbas fishing in an overloaded Jon boat.
The Z1 is a well-equipped boat with lots of standard features, such as the TigéTouch display screen, which can play back video shot from the optional HD tower cam. It also has a standard depthfinder and a Medallion cruise control system. But since Tigé is essentially a custom production company, it makes sure lots of options are available. The Surf Package ballast seems to be the sweet spot for most users’ wave-producing needs. In addition to a trailer, there are a few other must-have items. For extending your season from early spring to late fall, there is a pair of onboard heaters. And every ski boat should have a shower, especially for people who ski in salt water. Although the Z1 comes with a standard ski pylon, you must have the Alpha Z Tower if you are going to own a Tigé.
Some entertainment amenities to add include a cockpit table and a 48-quart soft-side cooler that is in addition to the standard built-in model in the bow section, which is roomier than on previous versions of the Z1. To up the bling factor, you’ll want the paint upgrade — thanks to its computer design program, Tigé lets you create your own out-there look. And you would be drummed out of the wakeboard/surfing community if you didn’t install the premium stereo with a subwoofer and a Wet Sounds Tower of Power system, complete with up to REV 10 speakers for the tower. Tigé might have the best integrated Bimini system, which includes Surf Pockets for tucking away your boards and a shade extension for blazingly hot summer days. Underseat storage is also outstanding.