I was in Orlando last week to witness what BRP had assured me was a special new product that would revolutionise an industry. It was a product that had been in development for eight years and it was shrouded in secrecy – not the kind of secrecy that marketing people generate as a means of adding mystique to something dull, but the kind of secrecy that has enabled a team of designers and engineers to work solidly for the best part of a decade without so much as a whisper ever reaching the news pages of the boating press.
I wasn’t actually that happy about it if I’m honest – flying for nine hours across the Atlantic in a seat the size of teabag to see an undisclosed object that might or might not be interesting. But I did it anyway because I’m a stoic professional and in the event, it was well worth the effort. Why? Because the object in question turned out to be a sit-down PWC that will be available in the UK for less than £5,000.
Known as the Sea-Doo Spark, it is packed full of fresh ideas, brave design tangents and clever solutions - and in stark contrast to general market trends, the emphasis is not on extra power, higher speeds or more outlandish levels of technical sophistication. It is simply about returning to the basics and building a new form of craft that can capture the fun without complicating the issue or getting bogged down in the industry’s baggage.
Built from modular sections of polypropylene, the Sea-Doo Spark is available in five colours, with a range of straightforward upgrade routes – and not only is it 20 per cent shorter than any other sit-down ski but it’s also 40 per cent lighter, 35 per cent more frugal and 40 per cent cheaper. I don’t believe it will achieve the ‘fresh genre’ status that Sea-Doo would ideally like but the Sea-Doo Spark remains an extremely brave and ingenious attempt to reinvigorate the excitement of the industry’s golden age.