Cutting Gas by the Hour
Let’s say you’re planning to put 10 hours of general cruising time on your boat during the next two weeks. What if you were told you could save 25 gallons of gas during those outings by pressing a button on the dash? You’d have to say, “Show me the button!”
It’s true. The eco (or fuel economy) mode on the Sea-Doo 210 Challenger gives better gas relief than Beano. Here’s how: the computer at the heart of the boat’s intelligent throttle control (iTC) feeds information to the engine, regulating not only the amount of power the engine delivers but also how it’s delivered — in a burst, gradually or steadily. This is all at the driver’s discretion and controlled with a little button on the dash. With the button, you toggle through four modes — ski, cruise, docking and eco, which is the one that gripped us during two separate tests. In eco, the computer found the most efficient fuel flow once the boat was on plane. The computer continued to adjust the engine output as it read changes in current, water temperature, air temperature, barometric pressure and load. We didn’t have to do anything.
If you’re like most sport boaters, you’ll guess at the most economical cruise speed on your ride. You could be 5 mph off, easily. In our test, 5 mph over the most fuel-efficient speed had us burning 11 gallons per hour (gph) of gas. Eco mode had us at 8.5 gph. Over 10 hours, that’s a difference of 25 gallons if you’re just cruising. Make it 50 hours and you’re looking at a potential waste of 125 gallons, just by missing the mark.
The eco mode was introduced on the 210 Challenger last fall. It was such a hit that Sea-Doo will offer the function on six boat models and three watercraft for the 2011 model year. Over time, that will equate to a lot of gas savings when the right buttons are pushed. — Robert Stephens