Instant acceleration plus an open craft close to the water equal thrill ride.
Time to spice things up with some old-school drag racing. But no, I’m not talking about some informal grudge match with a friend. I’m at the Hydro Drag nationals, an event that pits racers side by side in a battle for actual fame and glory.
You can’t find a more average-guy-friendly form of competition than drag racing. I don’t need expensive modifications; there’s actually a class for my stock watercraft. I also don’t have to worry about cracking up my boat, or worse, me. Side by side with my competition, I simply squeeze the throttle, point it straight and hold on for the ride. It’s mano a mano but without the fear of “fiberglasso a fiberglasso.” As a guy who at one time used to routinely feel the pucker factor of motocross-style PWC racing, I could learn to like this.
In a past event, a racer from Puerto Rico eclipsed the 100 mph mark on his modified craft. Today, I’m happy flirting with 60, a speed that seems deceptively low as I scream out of the starting gate. Hurtling across the glass of a narrow, wind-protected Florida canal, I’m literally inches above the water’s surface. It’s precisely this attribute that make a PWC so thrilling as a racer. Acceleration is intense. Even on my relatively tame 155 hp craft, I squeeze the throttle and literally feel a stretch of the arms as the craft rockets to 30 mph. The most powerful stock machines get there in as little as 1.8 seconds; modified ones are considerably faster.
The time is just as scant en route to the craft’s top speed as I tuck into a crouch and stretch my arms forward the way the real racers do it. Feeling the need for speed? Trust me, until you’ve ridden a PWC you haven’t felt an intoxicating rush like this. The exposure and closeness to the water amplify the thrill tenfold.
Sadly, my skills don’t get me past the first round. I ease my troubled mind the way men have done for centuries. I go fish.
Drive Modes make Sea-Doo’s Wake 155 ($11,299, sea-doo.com) extra versatile.
Five profiles set acceleration.
Tames acceleration for a touring-friendly ride.
Push the button and set a speed.
Run at the best fuel burn rate.