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Like any industry, the personal watercraft business faces a good deal of competition, as OEMs try to get consumers to part with their hard-earned dollars.
One trend has some watersports enthusiasts trading down from their larger pleasurecraft, and into the smaller and more economical PWCs.
So it was somewhat fitting that at the International Boat Show in Toronto in January, 2008 offerings from PWC makers such as Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Honda were dwarfed by the competition. It was only in size, mind you, as mammoth yachts, cruiser and fishing boats commanded most of the real estate at the Direct Energy Centre.
But what they may have lacked in floor space, personal watercraft models from these companies are increasingly appealing to enthusiasts, and appearing on more and more waterways.
Sea-Doo and Yamaha both had their full 2008 line-ups at the event, while Honda allowed a sneak peak via a prototype.
Along with its collection of Sport Boats, Sea-Doo had its entire line of personal watercraft on hand for the show. Always a front runner when it comes to innovation, Sea-Doo was excited to talk about a couple of key new features.
Some of the biggest news from Sea-Doo will have wakeboarders doing flips—literally. Sea-Doo, the official wakeboard boat for the pro wakeboarding tour, has delivered on the pros’ pining for a more consistent wake. To answer the call, a ballast tank has been added to the 2008 Wake Edition.
“It’s the first time it has ever been done,” BRP district sales manager Scott MacWilliam told PersonalWatercraft.com. “In the past, and with other watercraft, the wake is a little washy and has a little bit of white water on the top of it. With the ballast tank and the extra weight on the back, it provides a crisp, perfect wake.”
According to Sea-Doo, the removable ballast tank fills up with up to 200 pounds of water, allowing the operator to fine-tune the size and shape of the wake.
“What that does is allow wakeboarders to do all kinds of tricks that they could never dream possible before,” says MacWilliam. “For instance, when we launched this product in Palm Springs we had the professional wakeboarders with us and for the first time they could do back flips on a Sea-Doo.”
Besides wake, horsepower is the other key word coming from Sea-Doo this year. A pair of 255 hp vehicles in Sea-Doo’s musclecraft line—the three-seat RXT-X and two-seat RXP-X—has set the new standard in horsepower.
“It’s like nothing the industry’s ever seen before,” says MacWilliam.
He adds that the RXP-X will do zero to 50 mph in 2.9 seconds.
“Think about that for a minute…that’s faster than any production car out there on the road. If you want acceleration and exhilaration, this is the model for you.”
Yamaha also brought something new to the table for 2008, namely its new signature vehicle—the FX Cruiser SHO.
Popular Science has chosen the Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO for its ‘Best of What’s New’ award in the recreation category. Yamaha’s new luxury cruiser is the first personal watercraft to incorporate nanotechnology into its manufacturing. Called NanoXcel, the new technology is featured in the vehicle’s hull, deck and liner. Each of those components is 25% lighter than what Yamaha used.
The FX Cruiser SHO comes equipped with the industry’s largest engine, a 1.8 liter, 1,812cc, supercharged, intercooled, super high output behemoth. According to Yamaha, it is 300cc’s larger and 45 lbs lighter than the nearest competitive engine. This is also the only engine in the high-performance, 4-stroke category optimized to run on regular unleaded fuel.
“This is a brand new engine that has been specifically designed for watercraft application,” Yamaha’s marine product manager Jean-Francois Rioux told PersonalWatercraft.com. “The turbine is gear-driven for compactness and to reduce the need for maintenance.”
With its new lighter hull and impressive power plant, Yamaha claims the FX Cruiser SHO is quicker from zero to 30 mph than a Corvette Z06.
Honda was also in attendance at the Toronto show and though an array of outboard motors took up the vast majority of its floor space, an early prototype of a new personal watercraft was on display.
Honda’s AquaTrax line has been sold in the United States for a while now, but it still isn’t available in Canada. The prototype we saw will be the first Honda PWC in the Canadian market, but since it is still a ways from being complete, Honda is being understandably secretive about the details.
PersonalWatercraft.com will keep you updated on the status of Honda’s new vehicle as more information becomes available.
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