While the main focus at Yamaha’s launch of its 2016 range of personal watercraft was its big-selling WaveRunner craft, I can’t report on the Gold Coast launch without at least taking a bow for having set a new personal milestone. Also available for trialling was the company’s SuperJet range of compact stand-up machines. The super agile, lightweight craft starred in an incredible demonstration of athletic acrobatics at the previous night’s launch event, held at Sea World, with the theme park’s stunt riders putting on a breath-taking display in front of an audience of Yamaha dealers and invited journalists.
I like to think that my own efforts on the SuperJet the following morning were equally breathtaking – they certainly took my breath away. As a 50-something power-jet tragic, I spent an entertaining and ultimately exhausting hour or so coming to grips with the solo-rider machine, but at least proved that even an ageing journo of questionable fitness and ability can, eventually, after several aborted tries, stand up and manoeuvre the lightweight skis, albeit in an awkward, unbalanced kind of way.
But I had no trouble at all handling the company’s WaveRunner range of PWCs, which we were able to sample with an extended run on the Broadwater north along South Stradbroke Island up to the Jumpinpin bar.
The biggest news for 2016 is the release of Yamaha’s new 1049cc TR-1 three-cylinder engine, which now powers the mid-range VX models.
Replacing the MR-1 four-cylinder engine, the TR-1 is a significant achievement in terms of weight reduction (26kg lighter than its four-cylinder predecessor), and is also 34 per cent smaller in dimension, saving space and sitting lower in the VX hull for an improved centre of gravity.
Even more impressive for the smaller-capacity engine is a 13 per cent improvement in power, achieved with an increase in fuel economy.
The VX range also gains a Limited flagship model, which boasts the new TR-1 engine, plus bold new graphics, four pull-up cleats and an improved tow eye. Luxury extras include a cruiser seat, Cruise-Assist, No-Wake mode and Yamaha’s RiDE dual throttle/braking system, which incorporates a second lever to engage neutral and reverse on the left-hand grip.
The combination of the new, lighter engine and the VX’s agile hull won a lot of praise on the day. For a non-supercharged engine, the TR-1 still produced abundant power and throttle response, contributing to a very confidence inspiring, easily manoeuvrable and enjoyable craft.
Dedicated thrill-seekers will welcome the return to the range of Yamaha’s high-performance FZR SVHO, after a three-year absence.
Boasting a supercharged 1.8lt Super Vortex High Output engine, the SVHO certainly delivered during the launch, producing blistering performance in line with the company’s acceleration claim of 0-60mph (96.5km/h) in under three seconds. The race-like performance is aided by the lightweight 359kg hull, and its aggressive styling and graphics leave little doubt that the emphasis is on go more than show with the SVHO.
Yamaha says the SVHO is the world’s fastest production power ski and I was left in no doubt of the claim’s veracity after a couple of invigorating full-throttle runs on the relatively calm Gold Coast waterway.
It also boasted pin-point steering and handling, with rider input aided by the special sports-bolstered seat.
Other features of the 2016 WaveRunner range include NanoXcel 2 lightweight hull construction and new bolder and brighter graphics.
Pricing for the 2016 range begins at around $13,000 for the entry-level VX, up to nearly $23,000 for the FX SVHO Cruiser, both prices including GST.
For more information, visit your local Yamaha WaveRunner dealership or go to: yamaha-motor.com.au/waverunner.