We’re having a lot of fun reviewing all of the numbers trickling in from our year of publishing The Watercraft Journal. Our bottle rocket-like climb to the prized position of the single-most popular PWC enthusiast magazine in the United States is humbling, exciting and very rewarding (particularly as we’re planning for an even better 2015). In looking at what articles worked, which fell flat on their face, and what most of you really care about, it’s overt that racing takes a distant backseat to bringing you the hottest news and insightful reviews on the latest production vehicles.
No, really. Not even our next-day event coverage from this year’s Pro Watercross Tour, the IJSBA World Finals and the 2014 Jet Ski World Cup could pierce our Top 25 most-popular articles (our Finals coverage came in at #30). Rather, we saw some seriously viral videos, some amazing high-horsepower tuned machines and our awesome reviews of the newest machines on the water bringing in the most views, comments and shares, which only reiterates that it’s not racing that drives the core interest of this industry, but new products. People’s attention is not toward the race course, but the showroom floor.
Below we’ve included a countdown of The Watercraft Journal’s most popular articles for 2014. You’ll find links to the original stories, so make sure to check ’em out and see what all the hubbub is about.
#5 Sheer Brilliance: 2014 Yamaha FX HO Cruiser WaveRunner
Equipped with the naturally-huffing 1.8-liter High Output 4-stroke four-cylinder, Yamaha’s 2014 FX HO Cruiser was an impressively popular model for 2014. Bathed in Pure White with Espresso highlights, the Cruiser-equipped three-seater was the vehicle’s most option-laden version prior to upping the engine packages. Big draws for the 2014 Yamaha WaveRunners included two-toned Hydro-Turf mats, redesigned handle grips and gobs of storage spread over the whole ski.
Enjoying the benefits of miserly gas mileage, tilt steering and manual trim control, the FX HO Cruiser forewent the lake boiling horsepower of the SVHO-equipped supercharged machines and went the route of comfort and economy, which was clearly a winning combination. You might think white to be boring, but it has proven so popular that Yamaha has carried the color over into the 2015 lineup on several other units. You can read the whole report HERE.
#4 Video: The 550-Horsepower Turbo-Powered FXR500 Is a Beautiful Thing
We’re particularly proud of this article, primarily because we were the originator of this story. A few weeks after publishing, we found the article shared, linked and even pirated (literally cut-and-pasted) so many times that people accused us of stealing our own work (thankfully, Google Analytic records don’t lie and we were able to back up our claims). The subject in question was this wildly impressive footage of CMJ4Tec (Custom Made Jetski) lake testing their 500-plus-horsepower Yamaha FXR500.
Piloted by Phil Pope, the ski is seen erupting from one buoy to the next, absolutely devouring the long straightaway in the background. The ski is a completely unique build, from an overbored and stroked block, re-machined reciprocating assembly, redesigned cams and valvetrain, and a proprietary CMJ-designed CCCS turbo header (or Co-Centric-Collector-System). The Garrett GTX 3076RS Turbo and custom aluminum intercooler presses out an impressive 550-horsepower and is truly one unruly beast. See it in action HERE.
#3 Excessive Force: 2014 Yamaha FZR SVHO
The runner-up to The Watercraft Journal’s Watercraft of The Year award was also the subject of one of our most popular articles of all time, the 2014 Yamaha FZR SVHO WaveRunner. There hasn’t been a better introduction of two incredible ingredients like the Super Vortex High Output powerplant to the existing FZ hull since chocolate met peanut butter. This race-bred machine dominated more motos in more races across the Pro Watercross Tour, the IJSBA World Finals and the 2014 Jet Ski World Cup than any other PWC. Period.
Out with the previous Super High Output 1,812cc 4-stroke plant, and in with the Super Vortex High Output, the performance package equips the Yamaha with larger fuel injectors, redesigned lightweight pistons, increased oil and coolant volume, and a 22-percent-more efficient intercooler. A redesigned, larger (86mm) supercharger housing and 6-vein compressor wheel spools up 60-percent more boost to which produces a real 260 (plus) horsepower. A performance-bred 8-vein pump and 160mm impeller pumps out impressive amounts of thrust through a new 3-degree nozzle (with cast-in diffuser veins) with a large 85mm exit diameter. Read the original report in its entirety HERE.
#2 Gallery: Introducing The 2015 Yamaha WaveRunner Lineup
Alright, that tears it. Yamaha simply had a great year in 2014. If we could, we’d show you how time and time again, Yamaha came up as one of the most popular subjects for searches and articles. Whether it was the new crop of SVHO-powered machines chewing up the lakes to long-distance cruisers, everybody was looking to Yamaha WaveRunners to see what they would do against the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of Sea-Doo. And Yamaha did not disappoint, introducing a whole new lineup of high-tech equipped machines for 2015.
Starting with an entirely redesigned VX lineup, the brand’s entry-level segment was made new from the keel to the handlebars. Employing the lightweight NanoXcel hull and heavy-breathing 1,812cc naturally-aspirated High Output engine, the all-new VXR and VXS wowed all of us here at The Watercraft Journal and pretty much everyone else in the media. Taking the place left behind by the newly minted VX Deluxe is the stripped down V1 and V1 Sport for the rental market.
But what impressed most was Yamaha’s new RiDE dual throttle reverse and braking system. Found on nearly every vehicle offered by Yamaha WaveRunners (save for the aforementioned two V1 units and both FZR and FZS), RiDE allows for immediate braking, easy loading/unloading from trailers, and pitch-perfect docking. Of course, there’s a metric ton of information we’re leaving out, so read it all HERE.
#1 Exclusive: 2015 Sea-Doo Spark to Feature First Hybrid Electric PWC
Yup, the single-most popular article ever published (and we’re talking by a HUGE majority) was literally joke. Our expertly-executed April Fool’s joke continues to trend each month, as it was linked and passed around by more PWC enthusiasts worldwide than anything else we’ve published. Don’t feel bad if you fell for our little gag. Not only did our would-be competitors (we really don’t have any) freak out when this went live, but even many withing BRP’s Quebec headquarters panicked over what we did and didn’t know.
Yes, there is no hybrid Spark. And despite what foreign media outlets (who clearly 1. don’t understand what a practical joke is, and 2. have never been “Rick Rolled” before) might say, it’s not happening. So don’t believe them. We made it up. It’s a joke. We hope you laughed as much as we did. Unfortunately, what the success of this year’s April Fool’s joke means is that the stakes for next year’s joke are all that more raised. It’ll be hard to replicate such a reaction, so don’t expect too much. Anyways, here’s the original article. Enjoy.