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Though it was probably nowhere on the radar when Clayton Jacobson II designed the first personal watercraft, in the years that have followed PWC have become common tow vehicles for watersports. They’re an inexpensive alternative to a boat, easy to store, use less fuel, and they can get into areas that boats can’t. Manufacturers recognized this double duty early on, and added features like tow eyes or U-rings to attach a towrope, but that’s pretty much where things stopped until Sea-Doo decided to take the wakesports crowd head-on with two dedicated models, including the subject of this review…the WAKE 155.
To transform a PWC into a worthy wake machine, Sea-Doo started by creating two handy add-ons, an extended tow pylon and gunwale-mounted board rack.
The former is bolted in place just aft of the saddle edge and features an extendable design that raises the towrope attachment point several feet above the swim platform. On a wakeboard boat, an extended pylon or tower helps create better airtime for the rider, as the towrope doesn’t immediately pull them back to the water once they jump. Sea-Doo’s pylon does this to a limited effect, but its primary benefit is getting the towrope up and above the craft’s jet wash to produce a more solid, more predictable pull for the rider. Twin handles are provided to offer security to the rear-facing spotter, who also benefits from angled foot chocks at the tail end of the footwells. When not in use, the pylon can be partially lowered so that it’s about even with the seat height. A small rubber strap at the pylon’s base secures a coiled towrope.
The board rack will be appreciated by those who, like me, used to try to ride around with a wakeboard in the footwells. It mounts to a permanently affixed connection just above the rub rail and features a plastic holder a board slides into. Bungee straps then stretch over the top of the board and secure on the opposite side to hold the board in place. This keeps a wakeboard handy, but the footwells free. No more bruised shins or ankles. Riding with a board in place doesn’t really affect the ride as long as you don’t get too aggressive. Should you not want the rack, it’s easily removable, leaving only the small mount behind.
Rounding out the WAKE concept, Sea-Doo tweaks the WAKE’s power delivery. Using the same electronic throttle technology that makes possible the brand’s Touring and Sport acceleration modes, Sea-Doo adds a SKI mode that lets the driver select one of five acceleration profiles as well as a desired cruising speed. Use a gentler acceleration for kids or maybe wakeboard starts, then opt for a more aggressive acceleration when hauling a slalom skier out of the water. Once everything is set, all the driver has to do is fully squeeze the throttle. SKI control will decide on the acceleration and then lock in the desired speed, all behind the scenes.
The final addition is a bolder color scheme. The 2016 WAKE 155’s White & Belize Blue is accented by hints of lime green and edgier graphics.
So why choose the 155 version of the WAKE? Cost is one obvious answer. The WAKE 155 costs $2,500 less than the WAKE PRO 215, in large part because of the craft they’re based on – the GTI 155 versus the GTX 215.
The GTI at the WAKE 155’s core features a 1,494cc Rotax triple without a supercharger. In many ways, that’s better. Although top speed will fall in the neighborhood of 57-58 mph rather than the WAKE PRO’s 65 mph top speed, the supercharger-less engine will get much better fuel economy while also not producing the hair-trigger throttle feel of the more powerful engine. Riders won’t get jerked with every minute throttle adjustment and speeds will probably stay more consistent.
As to the hull, the differences between the two craft will probably be most notable when not being used for WAKE-ing. The GTI hull features a much shallower deadrise, giving it a lighter, more playful feel. It’s certainly up to aggressive handling, and will handle rougher water conditions quite well thanks to more deadrise toward the bow, but the hull can also break free a little bit when ridden for pure fun.
As to features, the WAKE 155 includes Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Brake & Reverse (iBR). The system allows the craft to start in neutral and be shifted into forward and reverse via the iBR lever adjacent to the left handgrip. iBR makes maneuvering around the dock or ramp straightforward and intuitive, and takes much of the stress out of low-speed operations in crowded areas. iBR also provides braking power when activated at speed, slowing the craft rapidly when applied to shorten stopping distance dramatically. Other features include wide-angle mirrors which are better for keeping tabs on riders in the wake and the standard fold-down boarding step. Sea-Doo also offers its dual lanyard system. The secondary lanyard governs speed, while both serve as theft deterrents by preventing the start of the engine when unattached.
Obviously, both WAKE models are niche craft. You either have to be pretty into wake sports – or just like the change in graphics – to choose one over the craft that are at their core. But for those that are into wakeboarding, wakeskating and the like, it’s hard to beat the advantages provided by a pylon, a board rack, and speed control.
And the WAKE 155’s $11,899 price tag is certainly a lot cheaper than any wake boat.
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