Part 2: The mission was crazy and like nothing I’d ever done before, but it was heart-pounding excitement, too.
By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — June 2004
I immediately noted that the CZ7 offered a smoother, more comfortable ride than other RIBs I’ve been on, even while we were performing sharp J turns at half to three-quarter throttle and going from idle to WOT while running over the slight chop. My boat hit a top speed of 49 knots (56.4 mph) on the GPS, thanks to the CZ7’s foam-cored fiberglass, deep-V hull, with a 24-degree deadrise aft and 35-degree deadrise forward, which let it cut through the water smoothly, allowing for maximum speed, performance, and handling. The two air-filled, neoprene pontoons enhance lateral stability and help absorb shock, which is said to make the CZ7 more stable than a hard-sided boat. (Zodiac also uses a vinylester resin that reportedly doesn’t burn and uses iso-closed foam for the hull that, according to Zodiac vice president Rick Scriven, won’t hold water.) The strakes and chines are designed to keep the ride dry and enhance stability, and there’s a Zodiac-designed, roughly two- to three-foot bracket between the stern of the boat and the engines that the company says enhances stability and makes the “24-footer behave like a 26-footer.”
The CZ7 also features Zodiac’s military shock-mitigation system (SMS), which adds to comfort while underway. The SMS system includes a SKYDEX (the same material used on Nike athletic shoes) shock-absorbing sole and cushy, hand-adjustable, four-position Ullman saddle-style seats, on which you half-stand, half-squat. As I have back problems, I was concerned about pounding over wakes for several hours while partially standing, but I felt no soreness after the ride and barely felt any of the chop while underway. Furthermore, being able to captain and have my feet on the floor is a big deal for me, being 5'1"; both were easy onboard the CZ7.
After seeing what the CZ7 is capable of, we set out on our excursion “Operation Charlie Zulu 7,” during which my group completed a fictitious mission dubbed “Operation Angry Yankee.” Our objective was to rescue the American ambassador to the fictitious country of Kentistan, who was being held captive on “Execution Island” and about to be executed by mock insurgents.
I’m not going to lie—the mission was crazy and like nothing I’d ever done before, but it was heart-pounding excitement, too. I was driving one of the two “patrol” boats, which kept the coast clear so that the two “attack” boats could get to shore and rescue the ambassador. The task required operating the CZ7 at high speeds, under pressure, and paying extra-close attention to where the other three boats were and what they were doing. After the rescue I turned the wheel over while I climbed from one vessel to another at high speed. Although I’ve never been in combat and Zodiac admits the missions are designed to be “a little hokey and a little military,” I gained a newfound appreciation for our servicemen/women; after returning the ambassador to “base,” we had a moment of silence to remember those men and women overseas who perform real-life missions like this, to defend our freedom.
After the rescue and vessel swap, I said to Scriven and Zodiac president and CEO JJ. Marie, “It’s like no other boat I’ve been on before.” They delightfully replied, “That’s what we were hoping for.”
As far as RIBs go, there’s no denying the price tag puts it in a class of its own, but the CZ7 also offers a lot more than most vessels in its size range and even ones above. It’s a fun, beefy boat that adds a new dimension to recreational boating for those who want to use it as a primary boat, as it was intended, or as a tender. In fact, according to one source at the unveiling, Greg Norman has ordered one to add a new dimension to his tender collection onboard Aussie Rules.
So for the Greg Normans of the world, or anyone looking to make boating a little more extreme, check out the CZ7. You’ll be surprised how exciting RIBs can be.
Zodiac of North America Phone: (410) 643-4141. www.zodiaccZ7.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.