Back in the day when I had two elbows, I loved to ski on both snow and water. So sometimes when I am talking to people about boats in the summertime, the conversation will stray to what is the most fun adventure that is now in vogue when the water is so fun. I’m told wake-boarding is the answer. Several days ago one of my good friends asked me if I would like an up-close peek and he “wet the hook” by telling me he had the most revolutionary boat that I have ever seen.
Michael Parker works for Marine Max, the crowd that manages the downtown riverfront, and when I saw the 2013 Super Air Nautique G23 that the Orlando-based company has just developed exclusively for wake-boarding, I didn’t pay too much attention to a quiet, 22-year-old guy in baggy pants who they said was also “going along for the ride.”
To make it fun, there was the sales manager for some company named Ronix, who was along to actually ski – or wake. Bret Hargraves is a vibrant sort and his company makes arguably the best carbon-fiber boards in the world. Bret is really a good athlete, too, but I was marveling at the way the boat performed just as much as watching him behind it. Then there was this quiet, 22-year-old, who just sat there watching.
It was a stunning afternoon on the river and the G23 throws up a high precision wake that no other boat can match. The wake is uniform on both sides, which a wake-board enthusiast adores. You get more “air,” especially after the Nautique driver, Sammy Roberts, filled the ballast tanks with 2,850 gallons of water, which makes the ride incredible.
A 450 horsepower PCM engine pushed the craft easily and the on-board computers can do nearly anything. Of course, I’ve never seen a boat like it; the speed is controlled by a GPS unit and can maintain a set speed down to a tenth of any mile-per-hour, even in turns! Want to go 26.4 MPH, or 22.3? Just set the speed and whoever you are pulling has a “pull” that never, ever changes.
As our “action figure” did some flips and twists, the quiet kid just watched as Michael and Sammy laughed every time they would show me a feature on the boat. Soon Bret signaled he was ready to come back aboard and that’s when Michael looked at the quiet kid and asked, “Phil, you want to take a try?”
The quiet kid got his board and his boots and hooked his rope. “This is Phil Aslinger,” Michael nodded towards the quiet kid. “He’s on the pro wakeboard tour and actually lives just up in Hixson. Oh … and right now he’s ranked No. 15 in the world.”
While Phil was in France earlier this summer promoting wakeboard sports, the pro had heard all about the G-23 but had never been behind the sleek craft or seen its wake. So Phil set his rope at 78 feet, told Sammy to pull him at 26.3 miles an hour, and instantly even I could tell Phil Aslinger has been practicing for a very long time. My heavens above, this kid could charge admission to watch him behind such a huge wake.
At one point he did a “Nine,” which caused everybody in the boat to blink. That’s when Phil gets enough “air time” – up high over the wake -- to do a 900-degree twist, which is 2½ full turns, before he expertly grabs the rope handle and slips into position on the opposite side of the boat. He also did front flips, back flips, and more tricks than you can imagine.
After he finished a dazzling run, I found out Phil graduated from Hixson High, is a semester away from becoming a senior at UTC and has been wakeboarding for 11 years. “I don’t make a lot of money but nobody has more fun,” he said. Asked about the Nautique boat, he just laughed, it was obvious the newest offering from the Florida company will make a huge impact in the industry.
A G-23 can coast upwards of $160,000 but the one we rode was about a $145,000 boat. It depends on the engine size and options. And, for the record, I know the thriving Marine Max store on Riverfront Drive sold two one day this week. “Nautique is just amazing,” said Michael Parker, an active wake-boarder himself. “If the G23 was a car, it would be comparable to a Ferrari or Lamborghini. This is the boat the real enthusiasts have been waiting for.”
Thus far the demand for the G-23 has been so great that Nautique will soon present a bigger boat, a 25-footer that will carry a dozen people. The G-23 seats 11 and is unmistakable tied to a dock. A buyer can even order custom color packages, said Parker, “but the best feature of the Nautique is that it is universally recognized as the best made water craft on the water.”
Boy, what I wouldn’t do to have $150,000 and a right elbow!