The WaveJet is surfing’s new mistress. Thrilling and fun at first touch, it’s like taking a bite of some forbidden fruit. But much like cheating on your significant other, it can leave you feeling guilty and alone.
SYSTEM COMES WITH:
• WaveJet Power Pod
• Blank pod for non-powered use
• Seatooth®-enabled Wrist Controller
• Charging Station
• User’s Manual
• Board of your choice
PRICE: Starting from approx. R50,000 depending on board choice.
MORE DETAILS AND ENQUIRIES: www.wavejetsouthafrica.co.za
You initially can’t help be amazed at the technology of this new machine. The fully wireless system connects two lightweight aluminum impellers that produce up to 20lbs of thrust. These two little inboard propellers are housed in a small removable pod. This pod is basically the instrument that changes the craft from a regular surfboard into a jet-propelled one. The pod charges like any cell-phone battery. Once charged, just click it back into the belly of the surfboard and you’re good to go for an apparent 45 minutes of continual run-time. That equates to almost one and a half hours of water-time, of which I can personally vouch for.
Two impellers generate 20lbs of thrust.
The whole setup is all easily commanded from the simple one button wristwatch controller. No need for training or paging through small-fonted manuals. The first time I tested it, I literally flicked the ‘on’ switch, pushed the activate button on my watch and in under 30 seconds I was out, patrolling the backline with a shit-eating grin from ear to ear. Hell, if felt like I’d skipped first base and was straight onto fourth. Being propelled out and onto waves without lifting an arm was a truly bizarre mix of senses contradicting everything I had ever done on a surfboard until that point.
And yet that’s pretty much the time when those feelings of guilt and loathing began to well up inside. Images of crowded line-ups buzzing with congested traffic and surfers too lazy to catch their own waves had me doing a double take. What kind of monster had we unleashed on the purity of surfing’s core principal: doing it on your our steam? And then I re-gathered my composure, caught a fun runner and got over it.
Cory Lopez puts his 6’6″ custom WaveJet through its paces at the Berg.
The board we tested was a demo seven foot-plus mini-mal chunk of a board, so you’re not going to be doing any layback slashes on this thing. But it’s still a heap of fun if the waves are soft and running. One reviewer who tested it at Muizenberg said it was the most fun – and waves – he’d had in a decade. It’s a different story though if the surf is hollow and shifty, as another reviewer found while surfing a KZN North Coast point. A couple of trips over the falls confirmed that it’s hard to set a rail on the bottom turn in chunkier waves. The WaveJet technology is now currently available in shorter performance boards and bodyboards, so this could solve that problem, but we only tested the mal option.
So let’s look on the bright side. Aside from the double-edged sword of catching loads of waves, the rescue ski models could save countless lives as a tool for lifeguards in hazardous surf conditions. Physically disabled people, who otherwise may never have had a chance to ride a wave, may now be afforded the chance to do so. Fishermen now have a conversion option that sits in-between the conventional jet ski and fishing ski. Ask Frankie Oberholzer, he’s been testing them out and raving about them. Even big wave surfers like Garrett McNamara have dabbled in big-wave applications of these boards as a replacement for traditional tow-in jet-skis. I watched a video of JOB nabbing a Pipeline bomb on one recently. But this reviewer’s guess is these are more novelty stunts and the WaveJet is not going to become the go-to choice in most big wave rider’s quivers, as this goes against the very core principal of why most big wave riders choose to paddle in. Or, in fact, why most of us choose to paddle.
paddles jets out at Muizenberg.
After the novelty of a dozen jet-infused waves, I was starting to miss the burn of the shoulders from paddling, the baptismal pulse of a swell as you duckdive through its face, the contemplative stroke as you’re about to take off, wondering what the take-off and next ride will hold. The true essence of what surfing represents had been undermined. Without any effort or foreplay, I had awoken next to a strange woman in a strange bed and all I wanted to do was run home back to my picket fence.
THE VERDICT: Yes, the WaveJet mini-mal can be a bucket of fun if you’re feeling lazy or your local break is soft ‘n gummy. But as a monogamous purist of surfing, I couldn’t imagine a future that didn’t require paddling my own way onto a wave. And I certainly wouldn’t want to imagine sharing waves with those who didn’t have to. Its applications beyond surfing are, in this reviewer’s opinion, where its real merit lies.
Regardless, with a price tag of around R50k, this new mistress may well remain the exclusive guilty pleasure of the adulterous minority. But I’m married and balding so really, what do I know about infidelity?
So many choices…
ABOUT THE ZAG REVIEW:
The Zag Review is an independent editorial feature on surfing hard goods, ranging the full spectrum from boards and wetsuits to tide watches and travel bags. None of the reviews are paid for by advertisers or part of an advertising deal, and we retain the right to give honest, critical feedback that is in the interest of our readers. The product is reviewed by Zag staff and everyday surfers who rip, not pros who are paid to endorse the goods. We test the gear for a minimum period of two weeks (and a month for boards) to give you comprehensive feedback for the surfing layman. We know that surfboards are not a “one size fits all solution” and different surfers prefer different aspects on a board according to how they surf, even if they are the same weight and height. In the case of surfboard reviews, we’ve made sure to seek feedback from at least three different surfers to get well-rounded input.
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