A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to cross another industry “first” off my growing list — riding my first PWC. I’ve written about PWCs in the past, like this article on Yamaha’s RiDE dual throttle system, but my knowledge consisted of interviews and reading up on other riders’ experiences.
I’ve found that some of my favorite and most fun memories have happened as a result of me stepping — or being coerced by friends — out of my comfort zone. So naturally, when asked if I was interested, I grabbed my water wings (not really) and never looked back.
On a sunny Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska, I snapped on a life vest and drove a like-new Sea-Doo Wake Pro 215 around a man-made lake on an acreage of partially developed homes. I wanted to start with slow baby steps toward riding, first volunteering to ride passenger while my friend took the throttle.
Floating away from the loading zone, I quickly realized there wasn’t much to fear about the calm, open water. I did, however, hold on for dear life to the straps on either side of the seat as the pilot decided to “do some tricks.” I felt like a bobble head, but a happy one at that. I discovered that riding a PWC was similar to being on a motorcycle, adjusting your weight into the turns and taking cues from your driver on when to lean.
After my friend walked me through how to start the ignition process, I clipped the starter key’s safety cord to my life vest and took a deep breath — this was fun, right? I started out with just my pinky on the throttle, coaxing the Sea-Doo to a whopping 10 mph. But boy, did I feel like a speed demon!
My No. 1 fear going into this experience was falling off, or flipping the Sea-Doo over. Safe to say, neither of those things happened. One thing I did take away: Turning doesn’t not mean let go of the throttle. Doing so will make you feel 1) stupid and 2) like you’re back in day one of driver’s ed. Lucky for me, my friends were quite patient. After countless slow and not-so-smooth turns around the lake, I finally felt the need for speed.
I’d heard that going 60 mph on a Sea-Doo was a “blast and a half,” but I remained completely unconvinced until I got up to 50 mph myself. With a smile wide enough to touch each ear, I maneuvered around the horseshoe-shaped lake with a slight Bambi-like grace.
Not only did I drive and ride the Sea-Doo, but at one point decided it would be a great idea to go tubing. Ever gone tubing behind a 45 mph PWC? I think it took an entire week for my arms to stop hurting — but it was definitely worth it! Next summer’s goal? 60 mph.
Kate Swanson is the assistant editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She helps assemble the brand’s three-times-a-week e-news. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis, Power 50 dealership honors program and dealership conference, Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo.
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