The sound is calm. There's not a person in sight. I'm straddling the most advanced jetski in the world, a $16,500, 255hp supercharged beast. And I gun it.
The front end roars to life, bucking a bit. And then the world blurs. Within about 3 seconds, I've reached somewhere around 70 miles per hour on open water (honestly, the feeling is too intense to check the speedometer). Wind jiggles my eyes around in their sockets as I seemingly float, no, fly over the surface. The Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 255 features full, "intelligent" suspension with a seat that is separate from the hull, making the water feel as smooth as road.
I remember that just the day before, two Summermodo attendees Richard Blakeley and Joel Johnson had flipped off the Sea-Doo at top speed. Neither sustained a major injury, and now, watching whitecaps fly by with rapidity beyond my comprehension, I shudder at how horribly that accident must have hurt.
My feet grinding into the hull, it takes all of my focus to prevent my body from becoming a kite in the wind—yet I feel like a god of the water. A voice inside my head says to stop, but another says to keep going. In some perverse way, it seems less safe to slow down than just maintain as long as I can.
But finally, the voice of reason wins out and I hit the brakes. Yes, the Sea-Doo is the first jetski to have reverse propulsion braking. It's not a sudden jerk but a smooth, computer-assisted deceleration punctuated by a giant wall of water rising in front of the vehicle. I look back at the shore. It seems so far away...because it is so far away.
I want to go for another speed trial, but I can't fathom driving the Sea-Doo at max power again.
Yet somehow, starting just moments later, I find myself jamming on the gas from zero over and over, just to recapture the thrill.
(Someone else is driving here, fyi.)
Cruising a stock Yamaha around the same waters, outrunning a thunderstorm the next day, Pop Sci editor/Gizmodo alum John Mahoney rides shotgun as I hit 3-foot waves like ramps. But it's not the same. The Yamaha feels cheap, unstable and underpowered. After just a few outings on the Sea-Doo GTX, I was already a less-confident snob on anything less.
Video shot on a mounted GoPro Hero Wide by Joel Johnson. Edited by Quinton Ma.