Boat Review by: Matt Spencer
“I got the need… The need, for SPEED” - Maverick, Top Gun “I wanna go fast” - Ricky Bobby, Talledega Nights “Damn that guy is fast” - Guy at the beginning of The Fast and the Furious
It was these quotes and more that were running through my head on my way to test out the all new Yamaha WaveRunner GP1800. The birth of a new breed of watercraft for Yamaha, the GP1800 is a flat out speed machine and it doesn’t make any apologies for it.
Part of a reshuffling of the WaveRunner lineup, the GP1800 sits in the “Performance” category of the model lineup along with the VXR.
Walking down to the dock for my test of the GP1800 it was hard for me to contain my excitement. When I rounded the corner and it came into view, I became giddy. To be honest I’m not sure my feet touched the ground for the last steps down the dock. This thing just looks fast and mean.
Available in two colour options, the GP1800 waiting for me was the race inspired Azure Metallic Blue that also had a mix of white and black accents that made sure you knew when you looked at this watercraft you knew what its purpose was, without being over the top. Thankfully the folks at Yamaha resisted the urge to include and checker flag patterns anywhere, which I’m sure was tough to do.
The GP1800 has an aggressive stance, like a bull ready to charge, along with sharp design styling. The hood of the GP1800 reminded me that of the helmet from the Alien in the movie “Predator.” Google both and you will see what I mean.
The goal for the introduction was to create a true race inspired machine for the PWC race circuit and the pure high performance enthusiast. If you have ever looked inside a race car it’s all about being as light as possible with the most amount of power. Yamaha kept this in mind when designing the GP1800 as they took the hull design of the VXR which was already impressively light thanks to Yamaha’s NanoXcel hull and made it even lighter!
Then to make sure they put the most amount of horsepower into the GP, they put in their top dog, the Supercharged, Super Vortex High Output motor. Any motor with two separate “supers” in the name is guaranteed to make the little hairs on your neck stand on end. Yamaha says this is the most technologically advanced motor that they have ever put into a watercraft, delivering the most power and torque that you can get. And let’s circle back to the fact that it’s also super light. This is going to be fun.
I geared up, hopped on the craft and began to idle out from the marina. I knew I was going to need a lot of room and it seemed like I was the only one on Lake Simcoe on this gorgeous September day. The water was calm, the breeze was low, stoke level was high.
As I idled out I playfully tapped the throttle a couple times to rev up the motor and the GP1800 responded with an aggressive and snappy growl and the whole watercraft seemed to twitch and the power output was immediate to the 3-blade impeller.
I looked around and deemed I was a sufficient distance away from the marina. I came to a complete stop, and adjusted my sunglasses, made sure my PFD was all the way zipped and I took a single, deep breath. 3..2..1..GO!
I’m not sure if I’m allowed to swear in a review but HOLY SH*T! The power connection was immediate. The GP1800 launched out of the water so fast that I’m almost positive I left the water briefly. Not only that, but the power kept coming, and coming, and coming. I gripped the blue accented handlebars so tight it’s a good thing they were already moulded to a hand pattern. I mean I’ve experienced fast watercrafts before but this was a whole other animal. I looked down at the GPS speed and I was easily doing 60-mph.
It changes the definition of fast as you slow down to a moderate cruising speed and you realize you’re still doing 50-mph. A casual cruise is over 40-mph. When it comes to closed circuit racing, the race is won or lost in the holeshot, and believe me you will win a lot of races with the GP1800 based on that alone.
But usually in the racing world your performance is broken down into two categories: straight line speed and turning performance. So I slowed down to 30, gripped tightly and cranked the handlebar to the right. As I did this I made sure to lean into the turn while kicking my one foot back for counter balance. It’s almost as if the GP1800 said “it’s about time!” and we dug in and easily did a full doughnut turn until I was soon going in circles. I quickly shifted my weight and switched directions and the power as the SVHO did all the heavy lifting, allowing me to turn directions and apply power to determine how tight of a turn I wanted.
The nose stayed out of the water and I stayed dry thanks to the stepped hull and the integrated bow spray guard. I straightened out the wheel, hammered the throttle and I shot over the wave I created, briefly leaving the water as I heard the jet pump suck air for a brief moment, then I was back to the power. When all was said and done, I had to stop and take a moment to tell myself to relax. I found myself a little tense from the exhilaration and for good reason.
What is nice to know however is that it’s not just reckless abandonment with the GP1800. It comes with Yamaha’s RIDE technology that allows you to stop significantly faster as it intuitively decelerates you by applying the right amount of reverse. The unthinkable can happen, sudden obstacles may appear so it’s nice to know that as you’re going that fast you can stop fast as well.
Other ride comforts like electric variable trim allow you to customize your ride characteristics on the fly, from loose and playful to a planted, white knuckle thrill ride.
The GP1800 isn’t a one trick pony however. It has comfort features like a large, rear swim deck with boarding ladder, comfortable foot wells along with 93L of total storage. There’s plenty of storage for fenders under the front cowling, a sizeable glovebox and watertight storage under the seat. The seat itself is comfortable as the bolster hugs your hips, boosting your confidence by making you feel secure. It’s also a true three-seater, there will be plenty of room for two extra people and the grab handle is great for forward or backwards riding, incase you were towing a skier.
And naturally, we can’t forget the feature that you will end up using the most - the two rear view mirrors forward of the handlebars. I think that one is self explanatory.
|Dry weight:||769lbs||348 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||18.5US gals||70 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Yamaha Jet 1.8L SVHO|