Racing On The River: Sea-Doo Launch New luxury Watercraft
I watched quietly as the crane lowered the latest 300 BHP Luxury Sea-Doo from the truck to the trailer which then slid this amazing watercraft into the Cumberland River which runs through Nashville Tennessee.
We were preparing to ride 15 high powered Sea-Doo luxury watercraft up this deceptively powerful river to the Old Hickory Lake at an average speed of 40 mph. Sea-Doo were launching their new range of 2016 super powered watercraft a week later and had organised this luxury rally along this meandering estuary to celebrate the extra ordinary research and development that produced these marvels of engineering and design.
A boat took me across the river to the sand bank and I leapt aboard the Sea-Doo Luxury GTX Limited 300 with the new Rotax 1630 ACE Engine, a 3 cylinder beast producing 100 hp from each cylinder. It also has a top speed of 72 mph, limited by legal limit rather than by engine power. It is amazingly comfortable and secure, with great balance. The controls are so simple, you almost feel they ought to complicate them a bit more, just to up the macho image. The right lever accelerates and the left lever is both the brake and reverse. Pull to brake, tap to go into neutral and hold to reverse. This is the second generation iBR or intelligent braking system, which allows you to stop 160 feet sooner than without braking. It has also been designed so that the front does not dip so much and to be smooth even at quite amazing speeds. The Rotax engine is also a major work of art in itself, in terms of size, power and fuel efficiency it is awe inspiring and so compact, well designed and ergonomically laid out.
The acceleration on all of these crafts is quite unbelievable, you can smoothly ride out in style, or you can pull that little lever firmly and literally take off. You can go from standing to 70 mph in under 4 seconds depending on the smoothness of the water surface. It is without doubt the safest and most exhilarating rush I have ever experienced. You have to hold on for dear life at full acceleration and good muscles are needed to hang on. Beware of the wind burn factor as a day on these babies will have you romantically wind swept beyond any back combing hairdressers wildest imagination. The adrenaline rush as you weave and bob along the water at speeds between 40mph and 70 mph is powerful and addictive. Anyone with even the slightest love of speed immediately thinks “I must have one of these”. It is the combination of stunning design, power, comfort and speed mixed with the ultimate addition of flying on the water, you can ride at tremendous pace in comparative safety. It’s liquid adrenalin heaven.
The 15 super powered Sea-Doo’s raced up the river, slaloming from side to side and weaving in between the other water-crafts, artfully avoiding the huge stream of water that each machine spouted up and backwards. You catch one of those and you are soaked and blinded. This was like Mad Max on the water, a convoy of aqueous speedsters roaring stylishly along the mellifluous Cumberland, careering past old Tennessee Paddle Steamers. The captain of the General Jackson stood on the top tier deck and waved as we rolled past, a nod from the past to the future. Within minutes we were gone, a plethora of rolling wakes undulating out, swamping the sleepy old oaks on the river bank.
We roared along like this for a while until we came to the biggest lock I have ever seen, a huge metal structure that loomed in the distance, rising to an impossible height as we drew near. A vast circle of rusted red corrugated iron straight out of a some over the top apocalyptic movie. The lock measured a full 22 metres high and covered the area of a football field. Impressed into silence we cruised silently in and cradled the PWC’s up against the wall and the other crafts, tethering or holding them together in case the vast wall of water came crashing down on us. The gargantuan ferric gates began closing like glaciers to completely encircle us and then the water began to flow in through the sluice gates and we rose up the 22 metres, ascending to the Old Hickory Lake. We waited patiently as the opposite gates opened and then fanned outwards over the lake taking up the wider space so we could really push the bikes up to their top limit.
By now I had swapped over to the performance Sea-Doo, the RXP-X 300 which has the same Rotax 1630 ACE engine with 300 hp and is built more for the full sports or racing enthusiast, with a new supercharger and a seat design that allows you to really grip the bike with your knees so you can turn very tight corners at incredible speeds. I don’t think anyone would ever really get used to the full acceleration on these dream machines. If you accelerate at full throttle, the craft lifts straight out of the water, the handle bars literally yank you forward and you fly through the sultry Tennessee breeze with the most remarkable thrust of any sports vehicle in the world. It is breath robbing raw power that projects you forward as fast as your senses can take it in. It is both surprising and exhilarating every time, and completely addictive.
We were now on a large lake and could really put the PWC through their paces, accelerating and performing astonishingly tight u turns at speeds in excess of 50mph. The performance on these machines has to be tested to be believed, the suspension is so smooth that you can swoop over even choppy water without getting too bumped about, there is a clear difference in comfort from any of the other PWC’s out there. I was now zooming straight up to over 70 mph and then throttling down to 50 mph to circle tightly around a buoy in the lake, one leg out and leaning as close to the surface of the water as possible to counteract the mammoth horizontal inertia and take the corners as swiftly and smoothly as possible. The more you get to know this craft the better it becomes as you get to grips with its idiosyncrasies and just how well it performs.
300 horse power on a PWC bears repeating, there is even a souped up version that Riva Racing in the states will make that takes the Rotax up to 350 hp. It is a most powerful monster, bringing to mind some kind of a super shark. It certainly has evolved over the years developing more power and greater performance. And the performance model comes in a sleek lava red, which really makes it stand out. The luxury model comes in jet black and deep pewter satin finish and I was really having trouble deciding which of these two bikes I liked best. The performance water craft is like a Ducatti, fast as hell and built for a sporty ride, whilst the luxury model is more like a Harley, built for comfort and style. Though of course both are equally fast and stylish. I thought I preferred the luxury model, but in the end I could not decide between them, both were simply too amazing and such a pleasure to ride.
I spent the next day on the lake in this wonderful part of the world joyfully testing the Sea-Doo Spark which is the very affordable model, the Sea-Doo Wake aimed at tow sports and the recreation model which are all equally good PWC’s and come in a variety of engine sizes and models. I think it’s time we started a British jet ski race and rally around Cowes, perhaps with a few ramps and slalom courses thrown in!
See below for more information about all the different models and styles: