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Yamaha 2019 WaveRunners Tested

Yamaha 2019 WaveRunners Tested

With the release of the popular 2019 WaveRunner jet skis, Yamaha held a press event at the Gold Coast’s Couran Cove Resort, allowing boating journalists to test-drive the new models. The Broadwater’s wide waterways made the perfect playground to give the watercraft a splash-test.

Yamaha’s new FX WaveRunners may not break the mould, but they impress with improved performance in choppy conditions and a range of minor enhancements, like increased storage space and automatic water draining for the footwells. We tested the two flagship FX Cruiser models, in both the regular HO model, and the significantly more powerful supercharged SVHO.

There is a wealth of features, both old and new, that combine to deliver a very smooth ride across the Broadwater on a choppy day. First up, both models benefit from a redesigned hull, which is wider and longer than before, and has been inspired by the popular GP1800. The new hull enables the craft to stay more stable as it smashes into waves, even at speeds of 40 knots. Turning now feels sharper and more precise as well. This stability is also easier on your body, because there is no need to fight against the waves and momentum as much.

Yamaha has said the improved stability means the craft also handles towing tubes and wakeboards without suffering from tilting problems like the older models. There is even a pre-set towing speed and acceleration setting that takes the hard work out of keeping the line taut.

The adjustable trim feature has also been improved. This lets the driver lift or lower the nose of the craft depending on how rough the conditions are. There is a digital representation of the trim setting on the colour touchscreen on the new models, which is handy because it is an easy setting to forget when the jet ski is flying across the water.

The touchscreen has been significantly updated for the 2019 models. The old monochrome displays have been replaced by a multi-colour touchscreen, which is easy to see at a glance, even with the sunnies covered in water. The touchscreen also acts as new security activation. The older remote keys have been abandoned in favour of a new PIN code, which is handy for anyone who is prone to losing keys.

The craft’s exterior decking has also benefitted from a serious makeover. It features more angular trim pieces, as well as streamlined mirrors, giving it an overall more aggressive look. The rear boarding step has been upgraded, now featuring a sizeable flat platform rather than the old bar.

Those on the Gold Coast who spend a lot of time driving through canals at 6 knots will appreciate the WaveRunner’s new No Wake Mode features. At the touch of a button, the hands-free slow modes ranging from 4 to 8 knots can be enabled. Not having to keep feathering the throttle for extended slow journeys is certainly a welcome feature.

In an attempt to turn the WaveRunners into the Swiss Army Knife of jet skis, there are two screw threads that can be used to bolt on a staggering range of accessories. Best of all, the screw threads are compatible with the RAM-industry standard, which means they are interchangeable with many brands of attachments. There are basic options like cupholders, as well as a range of speakers for those who want to cruise along to their favourite soundtrack. You can easily detach the speakers when you get to a beach, and thankfully, they include their own battery so they will not drain the WaveRunner’s power.

The more interesting attachable accessories revolve around fishing. It looks like Yamaha is serious about making the new models very fishing-friendly, in a bid to have their jet skis used all year round. One of the supported attachments is the Garmin Striker 4 fish finder, which includes both the transducer mounted to the underside of the craft, as well as a handheld, displaying depth, GPS and loads more.

Two of the biggest drawbacks jet skis face, compared to boats, is a lack of storage space and the inability to travel long distances. The good news is that Yamaha has taken a serious stab at fixing the storage issue. The new WaveRunners come with 166 litres of storage space, a bump up of more than 30% compared to last year’s model. Most of this extra space has been freed up in the bow storage that now features a single 130-litre compartment, large enough for an esky and a set of towels. The glove box is also a lot bigger at 16 litres, and features a new rubber toggle to lock it closed. This toggle takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of but is much more secure than previous models.

Unfortunately, the fuel capacity still prevents long-haul trips from being realistic. The same 70-litre tank from previous models returns. To be fair, this is still among the best currently offered by competing jet skis, but having the option of a long-range tank would certainly be welcome on the Gold Coast considering the number of great island locations to visit.

In terms of engine performance, both models feature the same 1812cc four-cylinder motor which delivers impressive speeds, even with two people riding. However, the super-charged SVHO has significantly faster acceleration. Holding on when you flatten the throttle of the SVHO is a fun challenge.

Other than the improved handling in choppy conditions and the larger storage capacity, it is fair to say the rest of the upgrades are relatively minor and will only be noticed by the enthusiasts. However, that criticism can be levelled at all annual product updates, from phones to watercraft alike.

If it has been a good few years since you upgraded, then you will find plenty to enjoy here, especially if you have an older jet ski without many of the current industry standards like reversing. The FX Cruiser is priced at $20,999 for the regular HO model, and $25,299 for the super-charged SVHO. Both models are expected to arrive in dealers at the beginning of 2019.


By Narayan Pattison