Extreme RIB

Extreme RIB

Zodiac unveils a high-performance inflatable that puts a military spin on recreational boating.

By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — June 2004

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Zodiac C27
• Part 2: Zodiac C27
• Operation Charlie Zulu 7
• Zodiac C27 Photo Gallery

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• Feature Index

 Elsewhere on the Web
• Zodiac

The world of extreme sports has gained a significant following. Turn on ESPN most any day of the week, and you’ll see clips of extreme skiing, rock climbing, and similar sports made popular by shows like X Games and Gravity Games. Bigger, more powerful all-terrain vehicles like the Hummer H2 have taken off-roading to a new level of extreme enjoyment, but as far as recreational boating is concerned, outside of go-fast boats on poker runs, the “extreme” element hasn’t caught on. And for good reason: When it comes to the ocean, Mother Nature can be entirely unforgiving and almost always has the upper hand.

But Zodiac’s latest launch, the CZ7 Ultimate Adventure Boat, might just give Mother Nature a run for her money. Not only is this RIB designed with “mastering the elements” in mind, it’s also intended to be a primary boat, not a tender, capable of speeds in excess of 45 knots.

The 24-foot CZ7 (which stands for Civilian Zodiac 7-meter) was created because Zodiac believes there’s an untapped market for an extreme adventure boat, just as there was for an SUV with attitude like the popular Hummer. Because of this, the CZ7 was, according to its builder, designed to handle all sea and weather conditions and “is built to a different standard than anything else of its kind.” In fact, Zodiac says the military-style CZ7 is “a direct crossover from the H-7333 military RIB used by the U.S. Navy and Canadian Coast Guard for severe-weather rescue, commando insertion, mine patrol, and drug interdiction.” And here’s the novel part: This swift RIB is available to recreational boaters just like you and me.

Sounds pretty cool, right? You’re probably envisioning yourself whipping around on the water, thanks to the standard twin, direct-injection 150-hp Evinrude V-6 outboards, jumping wakes without throttling down, doing J-turns left and right, pretending you’re performing some secret, special-op rescue, just like in the movies.

Be that as it may, the CZ7 comes with a hefty $195,000 price tag, and most boats with that asking price offer at least some creature comforts for day tripping or extended cruising. But the CZ7 has no head, accommodations, or traditional seating. That’s why, at first glance, I thought, “That’s a cool-looking boat, but I can’t imagine anyone forking over the almost $200,000 for it.” Furthermore, I was shocked to learn that the Zodiac Adventure Academy (see “Operation Charlie Zulu 7,” this story) has plans for a 350-mile-plus tour beginning at New York’s World Trade Center, stopping at the Pentagon, and ending in Little Creek, Virginia, this spring (it’s already completed one from the Pentagon to the World Trade Center and back). But once I drove the CZ7 myself at the official unveiling in Annapolis, Maryland, in April, I realized how wrong I was.

That’s where I got to participate in a Survivor-style eXtreme eXcursion taught by Navy SEALS and Coast Guardsmen. (Even Rudy Boesch, the retired SEAL who placed third on the first season of Survivor, was promoting it the previous day.) The excursion was broken up into morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session gave a group of people, including a couple from Maryland (potential buyers), and me, the chance to get behind the CZ7’s center-console helm to check out some of its extreme-handling capabilities.

Next page > Part 2: The mission was crazy and like nothing I’d ever done before, but it was heart-pounding excitement, too. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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