Fu Manchu had it right. Give the people a taste for free and they come back paying for more. Of course, Sea-Doo isn’t peddling opium like the infamous literary villain but something just as enticing: fun. Now several years into the effort, Sea-Doo is continuing its traveling menagerie, the Sea-Doo Demo Tour…but with a twist.
Obviously, the big attraction in the BRP watercraft lineup is the all-new Sea-Doo Spark. Because of this, Sea-Doo has rechristened the three-team tour as the “Sea-Doo Spark Some Fun Tour” (#sparksomefun). Drawing in large crowds at each stop crisscrossing 19 states and Montreal, Canada in four months’ time, Sea-Doo enthusiasts, curious thrill-seekers and would-by buyers doing some last minute due diligence all come to test ride the new Rec Lite runabout.
The Watercraft Journal caught up with one of Sea-Doo’s Demo Tour teams as they stopped for the weekend in late May on the shores of Percy-Priest Lake in Nashville, Tennessee.
Despite the threat of rain – and even a few hours of mild downpour – people came to the Nashville Shores park to try their hand at the six-buoy hourglass course and scope out the new machine.
“We got in late last night and started setting up this morning,” a road-weary Andy Tworek smiled as he continued setting down clipboards full of release forms. Riders must first sign-in and provide a valid driver’s license before test riding. “We’ve got a handful of Sparks, but we also have a GTI and a full-sized GTX for people to try out.”
Visiting twice during the three-day event, we watched dozens of riders come and go in the space of only a couple of hours. The staff welcomed each rider, took down their information, provided them with suitable riding gear (a lifevest and neoprene shorts) and walked them around the Sea-Doo they wanted to ride, with a specific tendency to steer them towards the Spark.
“Yesterday saw about 30-40 people even with a threat of rain,” Andy continued. “You missed the lunch rush. We had nearly half of that just in the last hour or two. It’s been a good Saturday.” Together with Alabama native Robert Wilkes, the two were the senior members of the four-man group.
The weekend, presented by America’s Motorsports, also had plenty of media presence. Radio advertisements on local oldies and classic rock stations blasted the “two-Spark giveaway” that America’s Motorsports is hosting (expect a full-report on the contest when the winners are finally drawn). Likewise, commercials on local television stations welcomed all to come and try out the Spark as well. There was no shortage of marketing effort spared.
“I loved it,” beamed one rider as she departed a Licorice 2-up Spark. “It wasn’t as ‘tippy’ as I thought it’d be. It felt like a go-cart but for the water.” Surprisingly, it was more women enjoying the Spark’s seat-of-your-pants free-wheeling ride than the men we interviewed.
Comically, almost every man had the same question, “How fast does it go?” And all seemed to sneer at the Spark’s available 60 and 90 horsepower.
“I’m not surprised,” Rob chortled. “They all want to come out here and ride a supercharged RXP-X.” When asked why no X-Series units were on tour, he grinned. “I remember when they (the RXP-X 260) first came out on tour. We had guys flying off ’em at 60mph thinking they could take a turn at full throttle. A lot of these dudes think they’re better riders than they actually are.”
Yet, even a spirited few laps around the course on the GTI 130 was enough to wind some riders. “Man, that thing is quick in Sport mode,” one rider came back panting. “I can’t imagine what double the horsepower feels like.”
The Demo Tour has proven a valuable asset to dealerships like America’s Motorsports, as potential and returning customers are able to put their hands on the latest product, grab a handful of throttle and go get wet.