There are ways to cultivate the owner experience. When Dodge first launched its open-roofed, V10-powered Viper roadster, marketers sought to make the purchasing experience far more inclusive by issuing owners a unique jacket, a subscription to an exclusive monthly newsletter and invites to Viper-only track days and driving schools. The result was an immediate customer-satisfaction rating that Corvette quickly needed to bridge.
While this level of owner inclusion is more often found within the sphere of supercars, one company inside the personal watercraft industry has taken this challenge to heart, well above its competition. Sea-Doo has striven to not only provide its customers with the latest in innovative features and a top level riding experience, but also integrate them into a more inclusive experience by offering social media campaigns to win great accessories and gifts, as well as unique experiences.
The biggest of which has been the Sea-Doo Ultimate Owner’s Ride. Celebrating its sixth consecutive year, the Ultimate Owner’s Ride takes place during the main event weekend of the annual IJSBA World Finals held in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. While watching the world’s greatest PWC racers compete for gold might not be everyone’s particular cup of tea, several dozen riders have flocked to historic Site 6 early in the morning to join fellow Sea-Doo owners for a one-of-a-kind ride.
“This is easily one of my favorite rides,” beamed Look Marketing’s Tim McKercher, who hosts the annual ride. “I’ve ridden all over this country (and some pretty amazing places worldwide), and this is still one of my favorite rides. You just don’t see stuff like this anywhere else.”
Leaving from the westernmost tip of Lake Havasu Island, the ride begins southward, circling back east around the island, past the Island Inn where the World Finals called home for decades (before relocating to the northern side of the island), and beneath the world-famous London Bridge that was first erected in the 1830s over the River Thames in London, England prior to being dismantled in 1967 and relocated to Arizona. From there, the tour journeys north past the racing and up into the Colorado, all the way up to the Pirate’s Cove resort.
This year saw the event moved back to Friday, welcoming over 75 individual Sea-Doos and nearly 100 riders (as many rode two-up). In the mix were nearly a dozen Sparks, and no shortage of brand-new 300-horsepower RXP-X, RXT-X and GTX Limited machines, with a blend of everything else in-between (we had hoped for at least one 3D or LRV, personally). A handful were heavily modified supercharged machines, with their open exhaust cackling in the early morning air.
McKercher and the Sea-Doo team even rolled out several 2017 units for many to oogle at, including the new GTR 230 and RXP-X inspired GTR-X 230. While many inquired about it, all available Sea-Doo Spark Trixx models were being used at the Trixx Experience happening on the other side of the island at the Crazy Horse Campground. Leaving a little after 9am, the flock of Sea-Doos cruised back and around into the No Wake Zone leading to the back of the London Bridge Resort and infamous Kokomos nightclub for a photo opportunity beneath the bridge.
While trying to link 75 runabouts together sounds a lot easier than it really was, we managed to get everybody into frame before heading back through the channel and into the lake. Clearing the No Wake Zone, we throttled up the Sea-Doo 230 camera boat with a field of runabouts in our wake and the grand stands of the World Finals in the background. Wind was mild and churned the lake slightly, producing patches of 1-to-2 foot rollers between the wakes of the usual boat traffic.
At the mouth of the river we passed through the narrow channel, flanked by groves of underwater grass waving just below the surface. With none needing to be rescued from clogged intake grates, we sped off to the infamous Havasu Sandbar for a break. The location has been nefarious for some rowdy behavior over the years, but local patrols have helped to clean up the spot throughout most of the year (Spring Break is still a zoo and definitely not “family friendly”). From there, the ride north enters through the rolling sand dunes occasionally dotted with the wild burro native to the area.
Regathering at Topock Gorge, the group idled through one of the most pristine portions of the Southwest’s painted desert. The river is rife with native species of rainbow trout, largemouth and striped bass as well as catfish, carp and crappie, as the canyon’s walls reach as high as 500-feet overhead. Interestingly, the Gorge retains significant archeological history with ancient petroglyphs from the Mojave people.
Through the Gorge and pass Topock, we cruised to the mouth of the Pirate’s Cove Resort. There, riders filled the beach and docks with a full spectrum of colored Sea-Doos, overtaking the patio for lunch provided by Sea-Doo. Catered to by the courteous staff and sufficiently filled, we gathered for a quick trivia game where prizes and gifts were rewarded, prior to taking a group shot and releasing all to navigate back to Site 6 at their own pace.
While the ride was expertly scenic and the meal provided refreshing, it was the company that made the trip for all. Smiles beamed and laughter was heard echoing through the canyon, people traded tales of high speeds and adventure while ashore, and tech tips exchanged among the speed demons. It’s the kind of camaraderie not often found in groups of strangers elsewhere but inside the sport, and its well worth being a part of in future years. All it takes is owning a Sea-Doo and you’re living the “Sea-Doo life.”