Coming from a sailing background I’ve always disliked PWCs. Thanks to Yamaha’s Greg Bennett, not to mention his company’s 2009 FZ WaveRunner range, I’ve now changed my mind.
Personal Water Craft (PWCs) provide bucketloads of adrenaline-enhanced fun (watch Jeremy Phillips take Yamaha’s new FZS WaveRunner for a spin), but unfortunately they’ve developed a decidedly anti-social reputation here in SA – and it’s not hard to understand why. Hardly a summer goes by without us being subjected to at least one news story regarding some thoughtless lout who lost control of his machine at high speed only to kill some old granny innocently knitting at the water’s edge or a mellow canoeist whose one mistake was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s before you factor in their irritating noise levels and the disruptive wake they produce.
So when I recently received an invite to check out Yamaha’s two new WaveRunners – the three-seater FZS and the sporty FZR – I was understandably sceptical. “I hope you brought your wetsuit,” said Bennett as I arrived for the launch. “No way,” I replied. “You’ll never get me on one of those things.” Bennett took it all in his stride. And, with a twinkle in his eye, he proceeded to demolish my line of reasoning.
He pointed out that recent legislation had changed the attitudes of PWC riders literally overnight. Now that all PWCs operating on inland waters must be registered and display their registration numbers, and that riders must possess a valid skipper’s licence, the element of hooliganism has to all intent and purposes evaporated.
Greg went on to explain how much easier PWCs are to launch and retrieve than your average power boat. (If you’ve ever had to rely on hungover buddies to get your boat into the water at first light you’ll get this point immediately). They also burn significantly less fuel (a day spent on the water in a boat with two hefty outboards can set you back serious bucks). And, thanks to four-stroke engines and improved technology, they are no longer the noisy beasts they once were.
When we got to the water, Bennett eyed me. “You’re about my size. Why not borrow my wetsuit and take one for a spin?” I thought about it for a bit, and then agreed – and I’m glad I did. The sensation is hard to describe, but the term “freedom” comes to mind. It was like riding a cool two-wheeled cruiser, but without a helmet or any traffic rules confining you to a miniscule strip of tar.
Thanks Greg, if it wasn’t for you I’d still be anti these incredible machines. I owe you one.
For information on Yamaha’s 2009 FZR and FZS WaveRunners visit www.yamaha.co.za
To watch Cape Town’s resident pro freestyle PWC rider Jeremy Phillips take Yamaha’s new FZS WaveRunner for a spin at Blue Rock near Strand, Western Cape, click here