In this world, more money often buys mediocre fun and quality. On the rare occasion when utility, speed and durability improve, price typically skyrockets, too.
When we climbed aboard the GP1800, we’d already learned it was the new PWC of choice for the racing circuit and for technical advisers like Brian Baldwin. So when we pulled the throttle trigger on the stock GP1800 and hit over 70 mph, we weren’t surprised. But the dizzy feeling in our belly as the boat accelerated to top speed blew us away. It would be easy to accelerate the GP1800 out from underneath you if you weren’t ready for it.
When our tester jumped on the GP1800 in the late afternoon, the cocktail crowd had headed to the showers, leaving him a smooth lake and a 9-mile run to the Wallace Dam, which he’d never seen due to the long distance. But at 70 mph all the way, he made it in about eight minutes. He marked that tour off his list and returned to the dock in another eight minutes to give the next test driver his turn to ride.
If the acceleration and top speed were that good, the maneuverability was bound to cause butterflies, too. It did. With a foot braced on the starboard foot bed, we pushed the handlebars to port for a snappy turn. The jet pump stayed hooked up and the hull did too, whipping around in a G-force turn that, while challenging to the rider, didn’t cause the watercraft a single pause. The beauty of a jet-pump drive is no prop torque, so we made the same smooth turns right or left.
Bracing ourselves for an $18,000 price tag, we popped the question to Scott Watkins, Yamaha’s PWC engineer.
The answer was jaw-dropping, but not as we feared: $13,999 (as tested) got us 70 mph, Yamaha’s Ride steerable reverse control and one of the best-looking watercraft on the market, including metallic finishes, a big swim platform, a boarding ladder and tons of dry storage for touring.
How did Yamaha put this PWC together at this price? Who cares? We did care about how the Super Vortex High Output engine and the super-light nanotech hull gave this boat the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class. And a better return on investment than we had a right to expect.
* Performance options and firmware enhancements available to make it race-ready.
* Ride control gives instant deceleration with steering at the touch of the trigger.
* Standard mirrors and reboarding ladder.
* Standard Ride steerable reverse control.
How We Tested
Engine: Supercharged four-cylinder 1812 cc Super Vortex High Output
Drive/Prop: 160 mm pressure pump with stainless-steel impeller
Gear Ratio: 1.00:1
Fuel Load: 10 gal.
Crew Weight: 240 lb.
$13,999 (as tested)
Yamaha Motor Corporation Kennesaw, Georgia; 800-962-7926; yamahawaverunners.com