It's difficult to project the future correctly, but as you might discover, it's fairly easy to look back and trace the path that's leading us to where we are now. The story has a way of illustrating how ripples created at one end of the pool can become ripples at the other end.
As we spend much of this New Year's holiday looking back at the year and contemplating the future, we would also like to take a look back at the watercraft industry as a whole; to those specific makes and models that truly changed the course of the industry, the aftermarket and the sport.
Of course, Clayton Jacobsen's first 1968 Sea-Doo could be included here, but again let's look at the effect. These early Sea-Doos were viewed as cheesy toys, not a whole new industry. Likewise, the first Yamaha WaveRunner and Sea-Doo speedsters could be considered "missing in action," and to a degree you're right. Again, we look at how certain models have changed the course of the industry.
Certainly there will be models that many believe are missing, and that's probably true. Nonetheless, we chose these particular machines for their impact both at the time of their release and for subsequent generations. Hopefully many of you will agree with our choices.
1982 Kawasaki JS550
First introduced in October 1972, Kawasaki's WSAA and WSAB "JetSki" models were powered by modified 400cc two-stroke twin-cylinder engines. The JS400 was succeeded in 1977 by the JS440, which offered more power and performance and enjoyed great popularity for well over a decade. But it was the 1982 JS550 that really put Kawasaki's JetSki on the map. The redesigned "Mixed Flow" pump is powered by a more powerful 531cc engine that featured an industry-first automatic rev limiter - quite advanced for the time.
These attributes catapulted the JS550 into the limelight of performance enthusiasts and the newly created sport of 'jet ski racing'. Although a burgeoning series in the late 1970's and early 1980's, jet ski racing opened up to the widest audience and welcomed the sport's greatest racers with the JS550. The JS550 continued to be improved until the 1990s when it was finally discontinued.
1993 Yamaha WaveBlaster
Five years after their first foray into watercraft, Yamaha Motor Corporation introduced the WaveBlaster in 1993. Contrary to claims that the Blaster was an answer to Kawasaki's X2 single-seater "runabout" first introduced in 1986, Yamaha borrowed more from its SuperJet standup and motorcycle line when developing the "Muscle Craft". Powered by a Marine Jet 700TZ, a 701cc twin-cylinder two-stroke producing 63hp and propelling the vehicle to 44mph.
The WaveBlaster's ability to perform acrobatic maneuvers with precision and overtake other runabouts around buoys earned Yamaha legendary status. The WaveBlaster was only produced between 1993 and 1996 (with an extended production run for Australia to 1998). This is particularly surprising given the ski's popularity, which continues to this day, with a huge aftermarket and presence in the racing industry.
1997 Sea-Doo XP
At the time of its introduction, three previous Sea-Doo generations carried the XP name. Likewise, an earlier HX model had introduced Sea-Doo's articulating, suspension seating technology. However, it was the culmination of these features, as well as the redesigned, dolphin-inspired, coke-bottle-shaped hull and deck, that gave this particular Sea-Doo its iconic status. In fact, much of the XP design carried well beyond its 2004 completion and continued into 2011 on the 2004 RXP (and eventually the RXP-X).
Many found the hull to be impressively responsive, fun, playful and most importantly aggressive, leading to its strong track presence. In addition, the "Direct Action Suspension" worked not only to absorb shocks, but also to compress them in tight corners. Although it was a substantial 90 pounds heavier than its predecessor, its 782 cc, 110 hp engine was direct transmission.
2002 Kawasaki STX-R
Possibly the most important runabout ever built by Kawasaki, the STX-R came as close as could be to selling a truly race-ready machine to the general public. Powered by a 145 hp 1176cc 3-cylinder engine (from the Ultra 150), it is fed by triple Keihin CDCV 40 carburetors and a single fuel pump, and features a water-jacketed exhaust system that separates the cooling water from the expansion chamber , which allows exhaust gases to “flow dry and free of water vapour”.
All of this is housed in a hand-laid fiberglass hull (inspired by the 1100 STX DI), the STX-R has been slimmed down and lightened for greater acceleration and aggressive "race-style" sponsons for more precise handling. All of this made the 2002 STX-R the fastest production watercraft on the market - conservatively rated at 63 mph. The success of the STX-R has continued to this day - almost entirely untouched - as the STX-15F, a testament to the vehicle's hull design.
2002 Yamaha FX140
It was really on the wire. Outside pressure pushed the PWC industry to either clean up its act or shut down entirely. Despite Honda's chirping that a 4-stroke watercraft was coming soon, Yamaha and Sea-Doo went head-to-head to be the first to announce their 4-stroke runabout. Both manufacturers learned of each other's release date and rushed to unveil their 4-stroke watercraft on August 20, 2001. The media was amazed at how they were able to attend both events at the same time.
In the end, the 2002 Yamaha FX140 beat the Sea-Doos GTX 4-Tec by just a month and claimed first place on the market. Originally based on Yamaha's successful four-stroke R-1 motorcycle engine, the FX140's MR-1 reduced emissions by 75 percent over similarly powered carbureted two-stroke models (140 hp). The MR-1 was released as a water-cooled, fuel-injected 4-cylinder with dual overhead camshafts, 20 valves (five per cylinder) and independent water-jacketed exhaust manifolds.
2004 Sea-Doo RXP 215
"It's the first of therealMuscle craft,” said Greenhulk's Jerry Gaddis. Although the first supercharged 4-Tec 4-stroke belonged to the GTX SC, it boosted the naturally aspirated 155 hp to 185 thanks to an increased 5-pound boost; Sea-Doo turned up the wick on the 2004 RXP. The increased thrust took the all-new RXP from over 200 to 215 ponies - an industry first -seater.
With a 0-30 mph acceleration time of 2.2 seconds and a conservative top speed of 65.5 mph, the 2004 RXP was the catalyst that spurred not only the aftermarket to embrace digital fuel mapping, turbocharging and 4-stroke Fully embracing technologies that have otherwise been ignored. Dressed in his Candy Apple livery, this vehicle sparked the creation of the industry's largest online forum (www.greenhulk.net), but a modern day PWC drag race.
2007 Yamaha GP1300R
It was the end of an era. 30 years after the first WaveRunner, Yamaha's last 2-stroke runabout was also one of its most terrifying. There were few watercraft more successful and speed hungry than the GP1300R. From 2003 to 2007 the GP1300R reigned as Yamaha's nuclear option, winning regional, national and world championships on and off. In fact, the legacy of the GP1300R continues to this day, not only in the modern GP that now bears its namesake, but also as a favorite of aftermarket tuners.
For many, the hull sits at the top of the pantheon of a factory's finest designs. The model years were characterized by slight changes; 2003-04 165 hp and fitted power valves. For 2005, power was increased to 170 hp and the power valves were dropped, as well as welcoming a new jet pump. All were electronically fuel injected and came with bilge pumps. Although the GP1300R was a bit heavier for its final year, it still managed a GPS-reported top speed of 69-plus-mph.
2011 Kawasaki Ultra 300X
There was a time when the phrase "It's Kawi water" meant something. When it was introduced in 2007, the redesigned Ultra JetSki boasted an industry-leading 250 horsepower and rode on a truly deep V hull that broke and carved its way through waves like a Coast Guard cutter. A brief horsepower war ensued between Kawasaki and Sea-Doo, forcing the Big K to up the ante significantly for 2011. Kawasaki worked closely with Eaton to create a true Roots-style TVS twin-snail blower pumping out 17 psi of boost. That's 54 percent more than was squeezed down the throat of the 260-horsepower 260X engine a year earlier.
To produce a true 300 hp, the 1,493 cc plant also received new hardened valves, a stronger cam chain, a revised exhaust camshaft and a new dual-row oil cooler. There is also a new 160mm jet pump (replacing the previous 155mm pump) and a new intake grille. Oh yes, and let's not forget that the 300X is Kawasaki's first JetSki to feature electric jet nozzle trim control and a fly-by-wire throttle body.
2014 Sea-Doo Spark
The introduction of the Sea-Doo Spark in 2014 may have been too young in our collective memory to be truly appreciated for what it is or the impact it had on the PWC industry, but the introduction of the Sea-Doo Spark in the Year 2014 was a major turning point. Before the Spark, there was no Rec-Lite segment. The spark created that. Previously unheard of was the idea of a $5,000 90hp, 400lb two-seater from the world's largest personal watercraft manufacturer.
Now the Spark remains one of the top three selling watercraft year after year and almost entirely responsible for ushering in a whole new demographic of first-time PWC buyers. Constructed of a lightweight, proprietary PolyTec polymer composite and powered by a marinated Ski-Doo ACE 900 motor, the days of "two skis and a trailer for $10,000" were indeed possible.
2017 Yamaha GP1800
We atThe Watercraft Journalpretty much praised the Yamaha GP1800 and now the GP1800R (the latter deserves back-to-backVessel of the Yearawards). Of course, no amount of accolades from us can match the sheer number of podiums and world titles this ski has racked up in its short two-and-a-half years. Add to this absolutely superb sales figures (especially for a supercharged performance ski) and the GP seems unstoppable.
The hull and platform were designed to be failsafe should the economy slow down (again like 2009); That means all other segments would be shut down and this one hull would have to "do anything" until things got better. Amazingly, by using Yamaha's NanoXcel2 in combination with its 1.8 liter SVHO motor, it can be fairly accurate. We also haven't seen everything the GP1800 can do on the track or in the showroom as the new 'R' is sure to give this platform another strong 5-6 years.
What was the first 4-stroke PWC? ›
The FX140 was released as the world's first 4-stroke engine PWC. Its smooth engine feeling, clean exhaust and great fuel economy revolutionized the world of PWCs. It also became popular for its new hull design that provides good stability even on rougher waters.
The stand-up Kawasaki Jet Ski was the first commercially successful personal watercraft in America, having been released in 1972 (after reaching a license agreement with the inventor of the Sea-Doo, Clayton Jacobson II when his license agreement with Bombardier expired).What is the fastest Sea-Doo ever made? ›
RXP-X 300 the Fastest Sea-Doo
With a manufacturing speed limit of 67 mph, the RXP-X-300 is able to reach an astounding speed of 70 mph depending on conditions.
RXP-X Apex 300
The most exclusive high-performance personal watercraft ever created by Sea-Doo. From the carbon fiber hood down to the race-ready hydraulic steering, every detail of the Apex puts it at the peak of the PWC racing standards. Act fast, the RXP-X Apex is available in limited quantity!
- The Fastest Recreational Jet Ski. Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO. Kawasaki Ultra 310LX. Sea-Doo Wake Pro 230.
- The Fastest Sports Jet Ski. Yamaha Super Jet 700. Kawasaki Jet SKI SX-R 1500.
Beginning of the Legacy: WSAA and WSAB
In 1973 Kawasaki launched the world's very first Jet Ski watercraft. They were limited production models with 2-stroke twin cylinder engines and great maneuverability, unlike any boat.
His first model was the Bombardier Sea-Doo, a name that we all know well. These were not mass-produced and so there was a limit on how many people could buy one, but that was just the start of it.What was the first Jet Ski? ›
In 1973 Kawasaki introduced the first production stand-up personal watercraft—the Jet Ski. In published reports it was called “power ski.”What is the most reliable jet ski? ›
The most reliable Jet Ski models
Kawasaki STX-15F is the cheapest Jet Ski, and one of the most reliable as well! It's powered with a four-stroke, 1498 cc, non-supercharged engine, which offers around 160 HP. You can expect 60-62 mph top speed on this ski while reaching 0-30 mph in just 2 seconds!
This is why it's always good practice to consider multiple brands, and multiple models. Other companies offer models close to Yamaha's dependability but generally they don't quite match it. If you do choose to look around, you'll find that most agree with giving Yamaha the title of most reliable jet ski.
What is the best jet ever made? ›
- Battle for First: F-35 vs. F-22.
- #1: F-35 Lightning II.
- #2: The F-22 Raptor.
- China and Russia Lead the Remaining Top Five.
- #3: Chengdu J-20 “Mighty Dragon”
- #4: Sukhoi Su-57.
- #5: F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
- Speed and Weaponry Define the Runner-Ups.
- Sea-Doo (BRP) There's no question that one of the most well-known jet ski brands is Sea-Doo, manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products. ...
- Yamaha WaveRunner. Besides Sea-Doo, another big player in the field is Yamaha. ...
- Kawasaki Jet Ski. ...
- Krash Industries. ...
- Belassi Burrasca. ...
- Taiga Orca. ...