Bring in the jets

By Adam Quandt

While the entire recreational marine industry has been extremely hot over the last few years, there’s one segment in particular that has been absolutely on fire; Personal watercraft (PWC).

Despite facing similar and near-constant supply chain challenges as the rest of the industry, the PWC market has been a driving force to getting people of all ages and backgrounds out on the water.

A recent study from Lightspeed (CDK Global) focused on 63,000 PWC units sold between Aug. 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022. The study revealed that 45% of the 63k units sold were purchased by Gen X customers, followed by 27% going to Millennial purchasers and 22% to Baby Boomers.

“Generation X was the top purchaser of personal watercraft in this study and on average, this generation spent $13,418 on the unit purchase price,” the study reported. “Millennials averaged $13,446 towards the unit purchase price, while the Baby Boomer generation spent the highest amount on the unit purchase price, at an average of $13,609.”

With a wide age range of users, today’s PWC units come with a wide range of applications, from recreational riding, to watersports, to fishing and everything else in between.

The newest of new

Coming off of continuous hot streaks over the last couple of years, model year predictions an upgrades were somewhat unknown when it came to 2023. Struggling with supply chain challenges, major PWC manufacturers have been clawing to meet current demand of the innovations of model years prior.

“In the past three years we have made most of the situation,” BRP CEO Jose Bisjoli said during this year’s Club BRP Global Product Launch. “We all endured the pandemic and recognize that it lead to a complete reset of our industries.”

Though Yamaha nor Kawasaki launched no new major models for 2023, the manufacturers did drop some changes for the year ahead.

In early June, Kawasaki offered a partial look of its 2023 JetSki model lineup, featuring three tiers of Ultra 310 JetSkis, a trio of STX 160s and the newly renamed SX-R 160. Along with the slight name change, Kawasaki also unveiled a variety of new color options for its various models.

Similarly, Yamaha carried over its WaveRunner models from the previous year, after selling even more units in 2022 than it did during the sales boom in 2021. Instead of all-new models, Yamaha announced some new standards and options for it’s already popular lines of WaveRunners. Some of which include the entirety of the FX model line – with the exception of the FX HO – now coming standard with Yamaha’s premium audio package. And in perhaps the biggest addition, Yamaha announced its previously launched RecDeck will now be available for VX and GP models in 2023, adding to the models’ versatility on the water.

BRP’s Sea-Doo brand however, did not rest on any laurels earned during model year 2022 and launched two new models for 2023.

“The Sea-Doo line of watercraft and pontoons has grown to fulfill the category of watersports fun,” said Alexandra Monti, Manager, Global Brand and Content, Sea-Doo. “We noticed that riders were finding new and creative ways to expand the utility and fun of their PWC and that inspired us again this year. The new models we’re launching reset expectations for premium performance watercraft and adventure, and will make our customers rethink how far and how much fun they can have with Sea-Doo.”

Though teased earlier in the year, Sea-Doo officially unveiled the 2023 RXP-X Apex 300 during it’s global reveal in August. Though nearly identical mechanically to the previous year’s RXP-X, the 2023 Apex takes premium finish to a next level. The model features a one-of-a-kind coloration, premium badging and carbon fiber structures, and an all-new steering damper, all offered on a very limited basis.

Sea-Doo’s biggest launch of 2023 was the creation of a brand-new segment with its Explorer Pro 170. Designed with the ultimate adventurer in mind, Sea-Doo’s Explorer Pro 170 is built on the manufacturer’s ST3 platform and features everything one could need to achieve some long-distance voyages atop a watercraft. With a large front storage bin, included LinQ multi-cargo rack, adjustable handlebars, a seven-inch Garmin and much more, Sea-Doo offers the Explorer Pro up to anything riders can throw at it.

Boating Industry was invited to an exclusive ride event on the east coast of Florida in mid-August to do exactly that; throw whatever we could at the Explorer Pro. After a two-day journey and about 140 miles from just north of Jacksonville down to Saint Augustine and back – with all of our gear aboard – we can confidently say this new platform is ready to take adventurers anywhere they’re ready to go.

Along with the journey aboard the Explorer Pro, Boating Industry also had a chance to get some seat time with the upgraded RXP-X Apex. Long story short, pictures cannot truly do this limited-edition model from Sea-Doo justice. If there was ever a crossover between luxury and ultimate performance segments in PWC, it would be the Apex. The premium “British racing” green finish paired with carbon fiber accents and all-new badging gives this PWC a look like none other in the industry. Unique looks on top of the added steering dampener to help the performance machine navigate chop make this performance machine a must-have — if you’re one of the lucky ones to get one, as they’re available on a limited basis for MY 2023.

Regardless of big or small changes for model year 2023 and regardless of challenges the market continues to throw at the industry, at this point in time, the “big three” PWC manufacturers are aimed at continued success and growth as this segment of the marine industry continues to bring new blood to the water.  

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