Author: Alan Jones
The pickle-fork bow has been a popular configuration for Tigé for years, because of its extra roominess, but when the designers set out to create an all-new state-of-the-art wake sport platform, they decided to go back to the future with a more traditional pointy bow for the Z3.
V-shaped bows can be so cramped as to be useless to adults looking to stretch out and relax, but Tigé moved the consoles back ever so slightly and created a playpen that gives even six-plus-footers enough room to chill. And the interior depth, also found in the cockpit, is extra deep to add an extra level of security for passengers. This is especially important for a wakesurfing machine such as the Z3, since it will likely be spending a good amount of time side-ballasted to lean left or right in order to create a monster wave.
At the stern, which Tigé calls the Transom Activity Center, there’s excellent seating for getting ready for a run or watching the sunset, with wet storage underneath. A clever runway for entering the cockpit flips over when you need to use the sunpad, although the pad itself has a lot of different levels, making it difficult to plank in comfort.
Tigé makes sure all the things you can see are cutting-edge cool — its unmistakable styling and graphics, for example — but it also pays extraordinary attention to areas less noticeable. The Tigé plant in Abilene, Texas, much like the builder’s boats, is ultra-hip, and during a tour of the facility I saw how the Z3 is put together. One of the most unusual aspects of its construction is how the hull and deck are joined, as with all Tigé models. Normally, the deck is glued on with industrial adhesives and then perhaps riveted or screwed to the hull. Tigé takes that a step further by actually fiberglassing the two sections together to create a true one-piece unit that’s likely to stay that way.
Standard power for the Z3 is the PCM 343 hp 5.7L engine, but our attitude was adjusted upward with the PCM ZR 409 hp 6.0L model, which features the Catanium catalytic converter to reduce emissions but not performance. Although it has a rich, deep tone, the engine’s noise level was effectively subdued, registering 59 decibels at idle. The 409 formula works well and is a good match for a 23-footer that weighs 4,640 pounds, unladen. The boat’s time to plane was 3.4 seconds with almost nonexistent bowrise. We reached 30 mph in 5.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 43.2 mph. Need more power? Upgrade to a 555 hp beast that is just a $26,000 upgrade from standard. If you upgrade to the larger engines that consume more fuel, keep in mind that the smallish 48-gallon fuel tank won’t give you a lot of range.
The ConvexV Hull curves up at the bow and stern, which allows the stern to settle down in the water, to naturally form a wake even before adding ballast. This gives the Z3 a bow-up cruising attitude, so to compensate for potentially compromised forward visibility, the bow is tilted down a little. To give the driver control of the running angle, the Taps2 wake plate — think large, center-mounted trim tab — can bring the bow down to help slice through the chop, drop the size of the wake or help shape the wake, depending on your ballast situation.
Three large tracking fins mean you have zip for slip in turns and allow the driver to spin it on a dime, with change left over. They also help the driver with straight-line tracking and keeping it pointed forward even when the skier digs hard to initiate a turn.
This ain’t your dad’s old-school tournament ski boat that sought to minimize wake. The ConvexV Z3 is a wake-generating machine. The Basic Ballast gives you 900 pounds — a 400-pound bag up front and two 250-pound under-deck tanks in the stern. The next step up is the Wake Surf Ballast configuration, which takes the stern tanks up to 600 pounds apiece. Tigé can boost the total to 2,300 pounds with the Pro setup, and I’ve seen a dealer put twin 1,400-pound Fat Sacs in the stern, but trust me, the Wake Surf setup creates enough push to keep a sumo wrestler truckin’. The wave is not only huge but extraordinarily long. The Taps2 plate can be used to make it steeper or more mellow, but curiously it doesn’t seem to affect the length like a tab usually does. The Z3 goes goofy with equal aplomb thanks to the ConvexV, which also allows it to produce a huge wake without needing to heel over as alarmingly far as some others. The Alpha Z Tower also has special surf wake tow points on either side, designed to put the rider in the “sweet spot” with little effort.
Although Tigé has put a lot of effort toward dialing in the surf wake, it hasn’t come at the expense of a great wakeboarding wake. At 20 to 22 mph with standard ballast and the Taps2 plate at setting “1,” we had a nice ramp for launching. On the starboard side, there was a little whitewash at the peak, but by trimming the plate down a little, we had two perfectly crisp ramps ready for takeoff. With no ballast at all, junior boarders will have a good place to begin their transition to the next level.
The first no-brainer is to add the Alpha Z Tower with surf racks and the monstrous Wet Sound REV 8 or REV 10 speakers along with the Tigévision camera, just in case you accidentally land a monster trick. A pretty cool touch is the subtle metal flake on the tower and in the gelcoat. It’s not over the top like on some bass boats, but it adds a pleasing bit o’ flash. Your next choice is ballast, and the Wake Surf package seems to be the sweet spot; Tigé gives you plenty of room to add more if needed. An interesting option I’ve never seen before is called the Poseidon Mat, a carpet substitute that is soft on bare feet and allows water to drain straight through it to the deck to keep things dry underfoot.
At the helm, the standard TigéTouch display controls all the major systems on the boat, including the stereo, rider profiles you can store to automatically control ballast and the Taps2 plate. The Z3 comes standard with the Speed Set cruise control system and a drive-by-wire throttle with a new billet aluminum lever.