High-Performance Personal Watercraft

Seven key features of high-performance PWCs.
High-Performance PWC

The days of 50 mph top speeds and “better lean to the outside or you’ll spin out” handling are long gone in the personal watercraft market. Today’s flagship performers, like the Sea-Doo RXP-X260, flirt with 70 mph, leap out of the hole and corner with the aggressive lean of a superbike.

Ready to “go, Speed Racer, go”? Here are seven features to look for in a high-performance watercraft.

1. Large Displacement Engine
Today’s flagship performance craft typically feature four-cylinder, liquid-cooled engines between 1.5 and 1.8 liters, like the 1,494 cc Rotax shown in this Sea-Doo RXP-X260. Look for beefy cast pistons, reinforced crankcases, and also high-capacity fuel pumps.


2. Soft Chines
Look for a hull deadrise of about 22 degrees to slice through waves and corner with tenacity. Soft, rounded chines will allow the hull to roll more easily into a corner with an intuitive inside lean.

3. Electric Trim
Trim adjusts the nozzle, pivoting it down to lower the bow and put more of the hull in the water for turns or pivoting it up to reduce wetted surface during straight-line, high-speed runs. On the RXP-X, two favorite positions can be pre-set.

4. High-Volume Pump
With Top-Loading Intake Look for diameters of 155 to 160 mm, multivane intake guides to regulate flow, and race-inspired impellers that promise instantaneous acceleration.


5. Adjustable Sponsons
Sponsons tailor a craft’s personality to the rider’s preferences for operation. Lowering the trailing edge, or moving it toward the stern, enhances aggressive handling. Raising the sponson, or moving it forward, softens the response for a more playful ride.

6. Supercharger/Intercooler
Combos have become the gold standard for increased performance. Superchargers pack more air into the combustion chamber. The intercooler pre-cools the air, further increasing its density. More air means more fuel and a larger, more potent explosion.

7. Trim Tabs
Fixed trim tabs lengthen the running surface and can affect the running angle of the craft while underway. Trim tabs also stabilize the PWC laterally when running and can be changed in position to fit a rider’s handling preferences or accommodate weight distribution.


Quick Tip: To attain top speed, trim the bow of your PWC up above the neutral setting, and mimic the body crouch of a horse jockey.