BOAT TEST: TIGE BOATS RZR

By: ANGELO SAN GIORGIO, Photography by: JOHN WILLIS


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Tigé Boats has been carving a name for itself on the local watersports scene for several years. Angelo San Giorgio turns his hat sideways and samples the firm’s attitude-packed Tigé RZR.

BOAT TEST: TIGE BOATS RZR
The Tigé RZR, built by Prowake, is one of the company’s crossover boat models. The range includes the larger RZ4 and RZ2.

Tigé - pronounced "tiger", a la big stripy cat - might not be as familiar as some of the other common or "garden variety" ski and wake craft doing the rounds, but it is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with, offering relevant and genuinely innovative concepts.

Introduced to the local market quite a few years ago, it wasn't until triple World Tour and Australian Pro Tour champion Daniel Watkins returned to Australia full time and took over the brand's distribution under his ProWake banner that it really took off. Tigé Australia now has an exclusive dealer network selling the fully imported model range nationally.

Our test boat was provided by Melbourne dealer Streaker Boats but, sadly, on the day of our test someone had obviously ticked off the weather gods.



HIS STORY LESSON

Named after founder and CEO, Charlie "Tiger" Pigeon, the Tigé story began, as many do, from humble beginnings. In this instance, a competition slalom boat named the 2000SLM Comp. Quick to respond to emerging trends, Tigé observed the skurfing (ski-surfing) fad of the mid-80s and early '90s, which morphed into wakeboarding as we know it today with the development of the Hyperlite board by entrepreneurial skier, Herb O'Brien.

In 1995, Tigé patented its TAPS (Tigé Adjustable Performance System) feature, which was essentially a trim plate that could be tuned by the driver to tailor a wake to the rider's preference, without needing to engage ballast. This innovation laid the foundation for the current series of Tigé towboats, of which we were set to sample the company's wild child, the RZR.



THE HULL TRUTH

A member of the RZ family of crossover boats, which includes the larger RZ4 and RZ2, the RZR is another in a growing contingent of picklefork-style towsport boats. Twin protruding nacelles reside either side of a broad and open bow cockpit. Chiselled features add a distinct hint of menace, but the RZR benefits from an internal package that affords a wide range of accommodation and storage options.

The key to how the entire package works is hidden below the waterline, in the Convex V hull, introduced in 2003. In a design reminiscent of a wakeboard runner, this innovative hull design curves up at the trailing edge, reducing any tendency to plane and encouraging the hull to rest lower in the water column, requiring less power and ballast to produce a generous wake.

Yeah, I know; it made my head hurt, too. But suffice it to say, it works.

Combined with the second generation TAPS² everything from slalom skiing, to wakeboarding, to surfing, and stuff not yet invented is on the agenda. Engineered for efficiency by reducing drag, the hull also helps minimise fuel consumption. That means less time at the bowser and more time on the water. More tow per tank, as it were.



METICULOUS CONSTRUCTION

These things are also built tough with a lay-up rather akin to that of a quality fibreglass fishing boat. An immaculate gleam without a hint of "orange peel" suggests plenty of time and attention was spent on the build process, which is all done by the hands of actual humans. No vacuum moulding here.

Moulds are meticulously taped before gelcoat is applied in varying layers, depending on the colour selection. Fibreglass is then hand laid in a labour-intensive process before the Life Plus core stringer system is placed in situ.

Now this is different. We're all familiar with encapsulated marine-ply stringers and are seeing evermore full fibreglass stringer systems, but, Tigé instead employs closed-cell foam sections formed to fill voids, reduce resonance, and add strength and buoyancy. These shaped blocks are 'glassed in place and form the base for the top-deck mould and floor.

Engine mounts, floors and bulkheads are fabricated utilising tough Penske Extreme Composite Panels, which are also 'glassed in place prior to curing. What you have then is a thoroughly braced and incredibly rigid composite, timber-free construction. Tigé claims its build process results in the strongest hull in the business and backs it up with a lifetime hull replacement warranty.

Sean from Victorian dealer Streaker Boats declined my offer to test the claim, but I did find the hull to be exceptionally quiet and vibration-free during the test.

The fit and finish of our demo boat was exceptional and if this is typical, owners should expect a superb return on their investment. Even the seat base boards and stainless steel staples and fasteners were selected for their durability and longevity. Smart and practical while deliberately avoiding the over-the-top detailing evident in many of their competitors' products, the RZR's interior is uncluttered and family friendly.

In the final stage of quality control, all boats are lake-tested in real-world conditions by a man in a balaclava wielding a clipboard. Don't believe me? Just take a look at Tigé's online videos!



MOTOR-VATIONAL SPEAKING

Now, all the design effort in the world means nothing if you don't have an effective powerplant that complements the hull. Marine engine stalwart PCM provides the heart of the Tigé experience, in this instance a custom-built EX 343 MPI displacing 5.7L and punching out a healthy 343hp. Tigé also employs PCM's Power Plus transmission and a high-pressure fuel pump, the latter further backed up by a low-pressure pump for good measure.

The engine is bolted to the aforementioned composite mounts via a damping system, referred to as PCM Adjustable Engine Mounts, and passes gas via a single tail pipe. It sounds horn, full of purpose, but never threatens to drown out the conversation - that's left to the stonking Wet Sounds premium stereo system and your iPod's doof-doof playlist. Really cool for cancelling out your mates' screams when they bail…



FISH OUT OF WATER

It'll come as no surprise to most of you, but I know as much about wakeboarding, surfing and other such shenanigans as I do brain surgery. However, I do know what I like and that's got to count for something.

Climbing behind the wheel, I felt instantly at home. The dash layout is clean and logical with the only challenge coming from TigéTouch console to the right, near the throttle. Claiming it as an industry first, members of the iPad generation would find the interface rather inviting, while even I - a self-confessed technophobe - found it quite intuitive after a brief association.

If the engine is the Tigé's heart, TigéTouch is its brain, eyes and pretty much every other sensory organ. It monitors, edits and controls the boat's functions and settings from mood lighting and depth charting, to audio and speed.

The feature that most impressed me, however, was one that I've used on other towboats recently - rider pre-sets (or Tigé You in Tigé speak). Up to 20 individual rider profiles can be stored retaining settings for TAPS², speed and ballast, effectively removing the driver from the blame-game equation.

I called on its merits when Sean offered to jump in and show off the RZR's surf credentials - a brave move when I'm behind the wheel. Simply select Sean's icon, nudge the throttle forward and let the Tigé loose. The RZR loaded up the ballast, deployed TAPS² to the predetermined position and accelerated to Sean's favourite speed. All I did was not fart around with the wheel too much and kept the nose pointed down the fluid runway in the deepest part of the man-made watersports course.

This was a bit of a learning curve for me. I've towed skiers and wakeboarders before, but never a surfer. Sean educated me on the value of water depth in forming and shaping a wave, illustrating the role the sea or river bed. Who am I to challenge the expert?

I did, however, challenge Tigé's claim of TigéTouch's exceptional daylight clarity by comparing it to my iPad's Retina display, and I can report that in glare it was better than the Apple.



THE WRAP

Tigé might be the most mispronounced name on the sportsboat market but, whatever you call it, you won't be disappointed. Senior tester John Willis and I brought our daughters along and "oohs" and "aahs" were the order of the day, despite the unseasonable weather. Teens may be hard to impress, but the RZR blew their socks off. High praise indeed.



SURF'S UP

While a deft hand at skiing and wakeboarding, the RZR also makes a fine fist of generating a substantial and stable wave that can be surfed - as long as the rider can stay upright and the boat doesn't run out of fuel. We played around with the TigéTouch display and observed the shape and intensity of the wake change depending on the rider profile selected. It works very well, taking pressure away from the driver and reducing the amount of effort required from the rider.

Befitting its intended role as a multi-dimensional tow boat, the RZR is an easy boat to drive, set-up and fine tune, and even the most timid of drivers would soon find themselves at home. Riders benefit from a consistent wake with good transitions and solid ramps, or a flat one for the slalom aficionados. Surfing is where this boat comes into its own, however, with excellent access across the transom to the clever canted boarding platform, and a utility storage box that acts as a grab rail. See the video at www.trailerboat.com.au



NEWS FLASH

In keeping with its desire to innovate, Tigé has just released its Convex VX hull extension, which bolts onto existing Tigé hulls to create a 2ft surf-generating ramp. Apparently, it does this while still preserving the ski and wake wash for which its boats have earned a superb reputation. We weren't able to test this claim, but we're keen to follow it up.





ON THE PLANE...

  • Innovative design
  • Functional interior with durable finish
  • Simple enough for mug editors to use
  • Compact design with cool upgraded Alpha Z tower
  • Makes teenage girls giggle uncontrollably
  • Mutiple personality disorder -that works

DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

  • Technology comes at a price

 

Specifications: TIGÉ RZR



HOW MUCH?

Priced from: $99,600 as displayed with upgraded engine and custom Boatmate trailer



GENERAL

Type: Wake/Surf/Ski boat

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 6.10m

Beam: 2.39m

Weight: 1406kg (Boat only)



CAPACITIES

People: 12

HP Rating: 409

Fuel: 143.85L



ENGINE

Displacement: 5700cc

Type: 5.7L V8 EFI

Weight: (not provided)

Displacement: 5700cc



MANUFACTURED BY

Tige Boats Australia (Prowake)

Tel: 1300PROWAKE

Web: www.prowake.com.au



SUPPLIED BY

Streaker Boats

461 Mountain Highway

Bayswater, Vic, 3153

Tel: (03) 9729 8288

Web: www.streakerboats.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat magazine #291, February 2013.

Find Tige Boats boats for sale.

 


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