Sea-Doo GTI SE-130 PWC
By Captain John B. Wenz
Sea-Doo has set out to build a fun, versatile, and easy to own watercraft, and from the looks of the GTI SE-130, they’ve succeeded. After polling recreational and novice riders, these folks developed a list of what features and characteristics were most important to the market. They took those guidelines and designed their boat around an attractive price point.
One of the outstanding qualities of the GTI SE-130 is her stability. I took the opportunity to try it out. When I rolled this boat over, it practically righted itself. It took just a little push from my finger to turn it upright. Getting back aboard is a cinch, thanks to the standard reboarding step. There’s room for three on the seat, and everybody’s got secure places to hold on to.
For towing, the person in the aft-facing spotter position can take advantage of a pair of footpads at either corner to brace himself. This is one of those little details on this unit that makes a big difference. In addition, there’s a retractable towing pylon available that offers a pair of very useful handles. I was really impressed by this option and I’d certainly add it.
Working our way forward, the wide handlebars offer both comfort and more effective steering leverage. The instrument package is large, easy to read, and provides seventeen different bits of information. A Sea-Doo trademark is their “Learning Key.” This is an additional, dealer-programmable key which allows inexperienced riders to learn at their own pace, limiting the throttle while they develop confidence and control. This system also includes digital encoding within the key to deter theft or unauthorized operation. On either side of the steering post you’ll find a pair of clever little “temporary docking loops”. This solves the problem of how to tie-up when you stop for lunch at your favorite dock-n-dine spot.
Up front, under the shroud, is yet another example of responding to the needs of the market. First, the fuel fill cap is mounted up high so you can stay aboard when you’re alongside the fuel dock. But the really neat thing is the removable storage compartment. It’s got a gasket under the snap-down lid, and it slides securely into a fitted compartment. You can pack your lunch, your clothes, whatever you want to pack into this thing at home. When you arrive at your destination, everything’s dry, even if you roll your watercraft over.
Between the driver’s knees is a large glove box which opens two ways - hinged and sliding. And this area of the seat seems narrower but also more padded than the same dimension on some of the other PWCs I’ve tested. It definitely made a difference in my comfort underway.
Under the seat you’ll find Sea-Doo’s dependable 130 horsepower Rotax 4-Tec engine. At 1.5 liters it’s practically maintenance free - after a break-in period you only need to change the oil once a year. There’s no other periodic adjustment or service required. Much like the family car, the GTI SE-130 also has a closed-loop cooling system. Unlike a raw water system, this keeps sea or lake water from contacting the inside of the engine, which makes a big contribution towards minimizing corrosion. Like most of us, the folks at Sea-Doo care about protecting the environment. The GTI SE-130 is three-star CARB rated and includes the D-Sea-Bel sound reduction system.
When I took the GTI SE-130 for a ride, I was immediately struck by the lively ride. Just as it had been described by my hosts, this boat is a whole lot of fun. The flatter hull design provides a dry and stable ride, while also planing very quickly. You seem to slide around a little bit on the surface, but that makes this boat fun. You never get that submarine feeling when you come out of a hard turn. In my judgment, the ride you get from the GTI SE-130 will keep you coming back for more.
One other nice little detail that I must mention, appreciated by everyone from beginner to expert level, is the placement of the reverse lever. Being on the left, it allows you to maintain throttle and steering control while you shift between forward and reverse. It may not seem like a big deal, but once you try it you can appreciate what a big difference this makes. And for those off-throttle situations, the OPAS or “Off Power Assisted Steering” helps maintain control.
When we put the GTI SE-130 through her paces, we ran from zero to thirty in 3.3 seconds. On a tank of regular gas, we would expect to operate for about 100 miles between fuel stops, cruising at a speed of 33.7 miles an hour. This is a fun boat which will not disappoint. Sea-Doo has got a really good watercraft boat in the GTI SE-130.