What if I were to tell you that Yamaha Motor Corp. USA was planning to reveal a brand-new 4-stroke WaveBlaster in time for 2023? Most of you would be pretty excited, right? And yes, it would be a true one-seater, lightweight, torquey little wave jumper that was easy to work on – y’know, exactly how you remember the old ones (1993-1996). You’d be pretty excited, right? Good. Now here’s the bad news: they’re not… officially. But that’s not to say they won’t. Here’s how we know:
Remember back mid-last year when the blokes at Yamaha WaveRunners Australia built a handful of one-off, customized Yamaha EX’s? No? Well, you should because they were bitchin’ and we did a story on their WaveBlaster-themed EX that you should read. The ‘Blaster-themed EX wasn’t more than a few cosmetic cues on a standard Azure Blue Metallic EX Deluxe (with RiDE), but it did get the conversation going with enthusiasts and Yamaha executives. And a discourse is what was needed.
“The idea behind the concept was to create a statement piece linking our historical past with the iconic 1993 WaveBlaster, with our all-new EX series,” explained Yamaha Motor Australia’s, Mark Harman. “Yamaha’s personal watercraft have seen incremental evolutions accommodating the demand for features, equipment, stability, versatility and storage. This subsequently meant that the watercraft have grown in size to accommodate the shift towards rider demand.
“For 2017, Yamaha has put the ‘personal’ back in ‘personal watercraft’ with the introduction of the EX series. This new rec-lite series of WaveRunners are fun, playful and exciting. The EX pays homage to where it all started and shares key characteristics of the WaveBlaster of the 1990’s, whilst maintaining the versatility of rider demand with capacity for three riders, tow-sports, generous on-board storage and four-stroke efficiency from the award-winning TR-1 Marine Engine.”
Voices were adamant that the current EX was too big to be faithful to the ‘Blaster, as its 599-pound dry weight dwarfed the OG ‘Blaster’s 320-poundage. Equally, the EX was longer (10’3″ vs. 8′), wider (3’7″ vs. 2’11”) and taller (3’9″ vs. 3’) than its predecessor. So how could it possibly compare? The argument that the EX’s current output of 102-horsepower from TR-1 EX was in equal measurement to the prior ‘Blaster’s paltry 63-horsepower from the 701cc two-stroke, but that didn’t assuage enthusiasts. Only a true 1-seater would suffice.
This lead us to bridging the question to Yamaha WaveRunner’s Product Manager, Scott Watkins during The Watercraft Journal’s exclusive tour of the YMMC (Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation Of America) assembly plant. “We’ve talked about it, sure.” Watkins admitted. “But it’s gotta make sense for us to invest in building it.” Setting up the molds for a production run alone is literally a multi-million dollar endeavor, not to mention all that is required in development, testing, manufacturing and advertising.
Although unwilling to go “on record” with a hard number for minimum sales, other Yamaha employees have thrown around anywhere between 2,400-to-3,000 units annually for 3-to-5 years as a minimum investment in order to consider building any one unit. This figure is a contributing factor as to why we haven’t seen a 4-stroke SuperJet yet (although we know the prototype is near finalized and is slated for a 2020 release). Were a newly-minted ‘Blaster to materialize it wouldn’t be for 5 years or so.
Why so long? For a few reasons: Yamaha (as well as Sea-Doo for that matter) has a 7-8 year lifespan for all hull designs. The EX just appeared last year, and although beginning to reveal its laden potency (particularly when equipped with a RIVA Stage 1 kit, as we have tested before), the EX hull is not designed to have two feet of length cut from its center. Rather, it is very likely that a second-generation EX will be the guinea pig that permits for a full-sized, 3-seater and a reduced-length 1-seater. The 102-horsepower TR-1 EX will certainly remain as it is also slated for double-duty in the forthcoming 1-liter ’20 SuperJet.
And while it is all but guaranteed that any new ‘Blaster will overshadow its ancestor in nearly all imaginable dimensions and price (so don’t expect it to be identical to 1993), it will also be the only true one-seater in the marketplace – something which even Sea-Doo’s Spark has yet to offer (despite vociferous demand). Believe it or not, Yamaha wants to know if there’s the public demand that so many say that there is, so if you want Yamaha to build one, comment on this article below! Let them know.