It was with a hint of trepidation that I set out for Queensland’s Coolum Beach for the launch of the 2007 range of Sea-Doo PWCs (Personal Water Craft). I hadn’t hopped on one of these water-borne weapons since I attended a Yamaha Waverunner launch some seven years ago, and the memories of being flung into watery oblivion still brought a wince to my eye.
Then there was Editor Beattie’s final quip as I headed out the Club Marine door – something about his last go on a PWC resulting in a couple of busted ribs…
But come the test session on the nearby Maroochy River, and such worries instantly evaporated in a wall of wash. If you enjoy speed, adrenalin and watersports, the PWC experience is a must.
But first a little background. The unwieldy term ‘PWC’ is used these days for any craft of this nature not made by Kawasaki, which registered the trademark ‘Jet Ski’ term years back. Now a whole new world of models, manufacturers and enthusiasts has sprung up in this niche, and here in Oz, like in many global markets, it’s Sea-Doo – the Canadian-owned firm that also makes sport boats – that is leading the charge.
In fact, Sea-Doo claims it has over half the PWC market in Oz, but it believes the potential for future growth here is huge – which is where its latest range comes in.
The 2007 range comprises four families. In the ‘Performance’ family we have the RXP and RXT, the former a two seater, the latter able to accommodate three. In the ‘Luxury Performance’ class there’s the GTX and the GTX Ltd, the latter essentially the same model, but packed with some extra goodies, like a GPS.
The ‘Recreational’ family has the GTI 4-TEC and GTI 4-TEC SE, while the ‘Sport’ family has the Wake, which is equipped to tow a wakeboarder, and the 3D DI, with variable seating and steering geometry.
Providing the get-up-and-go for all these models is a variety of three 1494cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, three-cylinder four-stroke engines, available in 130hp, 155hp and 215hp guises – the latter being supercharged.
This year’s changes aren’t huge, but they’ll help push the range onward and upward. The handlebars have been widened and raised to give better ergonomics and control, and the instruments have been refined in a new ‘infocentre’, which eliminates the old menu system.
The flagship GTX family has been redesigned, weighs 23kg less and comes with a new seat, a removable and watertight storage box and adjustable handlebars.
The ‘Performance’ craft also have the new handlebars and ergonomics, along with sharp new colours. In addition to this, the RXP is now available in a 155hp engine format, as well as the 215hp beastie.
In the more budget-conscious ‘Recreational’ family, the 130hp GTI 4-TEC also has new handlebars and colours, while it’s joined by the GTI 4-TEC SE, with a 155hp engine. Finally, in the ‘Sport’ segment, the 3D DI is unchanged, and the Wake is now available with the 215hp engine.
So, after seeing just what the pros could do on these machines in a decent swell off Coolum Beach, we lily-livered hacks were delivered to the safer confines of the Maroochy River, to get the wind in our hair and water up our noses…
There was no point in messing around, so I headed straight for the RXP to show its 215 horses just who was boss. Well, actually it ended up being the last one available in the scramble for keys, but as I soon found out, that raw power was also wonderfully refined.
Sure, wind it on and you’re up on the plane in the blink of an eye – in fact Sea-Doo quotes 0 to 32km/h in just 1.28sec. That thumb-operated throttle’s response is razor sharp, allowing you a fine degree of control as you use your own body weight, motorcycle style, to complement your steering input as you slice through a turn.
And slice they do. These things turn on the proverbial 10 cent piece, and an aerial view of a PWC in an absent-minded moment is always a possibility when you’re really having fun. But the amazing thing is just how easy they are to hop on and go. You’ve got a throttle, and steering – and those two things alone are pretty much all you need to have a brilliant time.
After hopping off the RXP, I rode the Wake, the GTX Ltd and the GTI 4-TEC, and I had a blast on every one of them, across all three engine formats. PWCs have really come on since I last rode one, especially in terms of noise. Using resonators, acoustical foam and vibration absorbing components, Sea-Doos are now quieter than ever before – certainly they’re far quieter than the annoying buzz I’d associated with PWCs in my mind’s eye.
Other Sea-Doo specialties include a closedloop cooling system, which helps prolong engine longevity, and its exclusive Off-Power Assisted Steering (OPAS) system (pictured below), which drops down twin rudders at the rear to provide limited steering on a closed throttle – perfect for learners who have a fright, get off the gas and then plough into whatever they were hoping to avoid. Together with Sea-Doo’s Learning Key, which will automatically restrict speed to 56km/h or 80km/h as you build your skill, these things really are learner-friendly.
Priced from $12,990 for the 3D DI to $23,690 for the top of the range GTX Ltd, these things aren’t exactly cheap in the greater scheme of hobbies, but they’re finished to an exceptionally high standard and the bang for your bucks factor is extreme.
After a day of getting to know Sea-Doo and its products, it was obvious the company is doing all it can to develop this market, and it’s injecting plenty of excitement into life on the water in Australia along the way.
For more information on Sea-Doo’s 2007 range of PWCs, tel: (02) 9794 6600 or visit: www.brp.com/en-au.