2009 Watercraft of the Year

 Go ahead, call it expensive. It is—some would argue unbearably so in today’s unprecedented economic times. At nearly $16,500, it’s the most expensive production personal watercraft ever built, costing literally twice as much as the market’s entry-level machines.

Or go ahead, call it a solution to problems personal watercraft users never knew they had. That, too, is a valid argument. After all, we’ve lived just fine for many years, thank you very much, without realizing we needed brakes to stop us in our tracks, suspension to survive a day in the chop or a forward/neutral/reverse system that allowed us to start stationarBut while you’re at it, don’t forget to also call Sea-Doo’s GTX Limited iS 255 the runaway choice—let us repeat, runaway choice—for our 2009 Watercraft of the Year.

And know this: The bar has officially been reset.

Forward Thinking
It’s a simple decision, really. WaterCraft World’s Watercraft of the Year has historically hinged upon three key tenets—innovation, market appeal and long-term impact on the industry. No, we’ve never claimed to tell you the “best” watercraft on the market. Instead, we’ve opted to single out the model that will drive change … not to mention change the way we drive. A model that strives to be not only unique, but unique in a practical manner that enthusiasts can appreciate.

Last year’s winner—Yamaha’s FX SHO Cruiser—was that. The craft introduced new technologies and pushed aside conventional thinking. The GTX Limited iS 255 follows that lead, while at the same time revealing new directions and possibilities. y at the dockYes, the suspension is unique, relying on the on-board computer to calculate the load on the saddle and then determine the amount of travel for the rider “pod” that sits separate from the hull. But no, it’s not a gimmick.

After numerous rides, especially in the passenger’s spot, we’ve come to appreciate the way it takes the spine-numbing jolt out of rough conditions and urges us to press onward rather than head back to the dock. And while we never really thought brakes were a necessity, the ability to abruptly slow forward momentum and retain control of the craft is impressive. In fact, we think it may just change the way you ride.

It’s the least-heralded of those features that may truly be the most impressive in the long run. By carefully integrating the reverse bucket into the mix, this craft starts in neutral at the dock. Pull the throttle and it goes forward; squeeze the brake lever and it backs away. It’s a simple, completely intuitive solution that pays dividends not just in a marketing claim but in normal, everyday ridingAnd then there are the simplest touches that get lost amidst the hype. Features like a hinged seat that doesn’t require you to look for a spot to place it when you’re checking the engine, a gauge array that smartly pivots with the tilting handlebars and a programmable speed-limiting system.

All combine to literally shove, not just push, the pace of innovation. All will have a certain degree of market appeal. And all will certainly have long-lasting effects on the personal watercraft industry.

Welcome to the Revolution
Too much, too soon? It’s quite possible. Sea-Doo has thrown a lot of eggs into one basket, and we wonder if specific features might have been more effectively doled out to a variety of models.

The wrong direction given the world’s financial situation? That is a valid concern as well. We guarantee Sea-Doo wishes it had a crystal ball when plans were being made for a release date. But a revolutionary, exciting new concept that has the ability to not only change the personal watercraft industry but quite possibly affect the overall boating market? Absolutely.

That’s why the Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 255 is a great machine … and that’s why it is, without question, our 2009 Watercraft of the Year