Sea-Doo 3D

Our Boat of the Year.

The Sea-Doo 3D was created by passionate enthusiasts, a group of hardcore riders at the Sea-Doo research-and-development center in Florida who test and ride Kawasaki and Yamaha waterbikes on "standup Wednesdays." This crew realized in 2000 that, as the market for these bikes shifted to larger, heavier, less-agile, and more expensive three-passenger models, younger riders were being left out in the cold. The answer? A different kind of solo craft was needed, a bike that offered the quick reflexes and freestyle fun of a traditional standup but was easier to ride.

The first prototype, called the Barracuda, was created as an independent project over lunch breaks and weekends, using some components from the Sea-Doo parts bin and others fabricated from scratch. The result was a bigger standup, 1'5" longer and 1'4" wider than a Yamaha Superjet, and so stable that a first-time rider could idle through a no-wake zone fully upright. But it could also be a challenging-and entertaining-ride. Upon presentation to Sea-Doo management, the Barracuda got a green light for formal development.

The resulting Sea-Doo 3D is based on the Barracuda concept but includes a number of other innovations. For example, it changes personalities like a Transformer. Ride it standing, sitting on a motorcycle-style seat, or sitting low on a bucket seat from a go-kart. Each mode offers a totally different experience. For 2005, Sea-Doo offers two new ways to enjoy this machine: There's a ride-tray insert designed for kneeling and an adjustable strut, called the SHOQ, that locks the handle pole in position. And, compared to other deluxe three-seaters that top the $10,000 mark, the 3D is surprisingly affordable. The base model, which is not convertible, is $6,499. The standard 3D, which includes the fold-down Moto seat, is $7,299. The kart seat ($599), insert ($299), and SHOQ pole ($299) are optional.

Although some expert riders have derided the 3D as a "fat-man's standup," we think this machine is just the ticket for anyone who finds a runabout PWC boring but doesn't have time to master a narrow-hulled standup-it takes a long time to get good on a standup. Is the 3D perfect? We wish it had more than 110 hp under the hood, and the rider gets a face full of water in any of the seated positions. But it's a new kind of fun-and you gotta love that.

Quite simply, there's never been another waterbike like it. And as fun as the 3D is, its unique versatility resoundingly proves that these craft are, in fact, serious boats-as we have always maintained, and that's why the Sea-Doo 3D is our choice for the 2004 Boat of the Year.