Tested by Capt. Vince DanielloAs the sport of wakeboarding is evolving so are the boats that pull wakeboards. In the infancy of the sport, ski boats were used with weight added to the stern to create large wakes. More recently, we’ve seen dedicated wakeboard boats: either ski boats modified from the factory to create big waves or purpose-built boats specialized for wakeboarding. But several new wakeboarding disciplines seek to emulate the tricks skateboarders and snowboarders perform with fixed apparatus like ramps and rails. For wakeboarding, floating implements typically made from PVC pipes are used in place of the fixtures set up on land. These implements would be disturbed by a large boat wake, so in a reversal of previous trends in the sport, some new wakeboard boats are being built to generate small wakes. Since personal watercraft make about as small a wake as possible, Sea-Doo seized this opportunity with a modified version of their GTX 4-TEC, the Vans Triple Crown Edition.Other than some unique equipment for wakeboarding, Sea-Doo’s wakeboard PWC is essentially a stock GTX 4-TEC. The most significant addition is the telescoping tow pylon, which keeps the end of the tow rope a few feet off the water for better “air”. Personal watercraft have pulled skiers for years, but the attachment point for the tow rope is usually close to the water. With wakeboarders trying to go as high as possible, they don’t want to have a tow rope pulling them down, toward the water. The pylon retracts below the handle at the rear of the seat when not in use, completely out of the way during normal PWC riding. The pylon also features two handles mounted near the top to allow a passenger to hold on while riding backwards. There are also toe chocks at the stern of the boat to give this passenger foot support. The Vans package includes a custom cover and graphics package and an additional storage tray for the forward storage compartment, tailored to the needs of wakeboarders. For more information about the basic boat variations, log onto our tests of the GTX 4-TEC, 4-TEC Limited, and 4-TEC Supercharged models. These boats utilize Bombardier’s new four-stroke motor. All four versions we tested showed this engine to be a great match to the boat, with aggressive performance and all of the advantages of four-stroke technology, such as low emissions and greater fuel economy. Since most of my boating is done in salt water, I was particularly interested in the closed-cooling system. Until now personal watercraft pumped water from outside the boat through the engine to keep it cool. This sometimes led to internal corrosion and maintenance issues. Bombardier’s new cooling system works more like the radiator and cooling system in your car (or more specifically, the heat exchanger and cooling system on freshwater cooled boat engines.) A mixture of antifreeze and water is circulated through the engine. This mixture is cooled by passing through a modified ride plate on the bottom of the boat. From the outside, this ride plate looks just like previous versions, but it is actually a bundle of cooling channels sandwiched between two plates. The antifreeze mixture from the engine passes through these channels where the heat is absorbed into the surrounding ocean or lake, with no outside water passing through the engine at all. This system should prove to be a huge maintenance-saver. Only time will tell.Also a fairly new feature, Sea-Doo’s learning key is a replacement kill-lanyard fitting that limits the maximum RPM of the engine for less experienced riders. I was skeptical of how the boat might perform without full power, so I ran it at length with the learning key in place. While I certainly missed the horsepower, the PWC performed adequately and I had plenty of fun. The technology that makes this learning key work also provided the advantage of making each kill lanyard unique to its specific PWC, working just like keys to a car to prevent unauthorized use. If you are like me, though (I lose keys regularly) you might consider purchasing an extra lanyard/key and securing it with a tie-wrap somewhere out of sight in the engine compartment.There are no features on Sea-Doo’s Vans Triple Crown Edition that keep it from being used as a standard personal watercraft. The retractable tow pylon would suit skiers and tubers in addition to wakeboarders, particularly the handles that allow a backwards-riding observer. In fact, the raised tow pylon and reduced wake should make it easier for beginning skiers. Factor in the maneuverability, fuel savings, and lower purchase price of a personal watercraft over a ski boat, and this becomes an attractive, multi-faceted watersports vehicle.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC Vans Triple Crown Ed is 55.8 mph (89.8 kph), burning gallons per hour (gph) or N/A liters per hour (lph).
- Time to plane for the Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC Vans Triple Crown Ed is ~ seconds.
- Time from 0 to 30 of the Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC Vans Triple Crown Ed is 2.9 sec. seconds.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!