Vicious Rumors & Vile Gossip: Spied Prototype Yamaha Teases Possible Return of Sea Saucer?

Yamaha Motor Corp. USA has an unfailing grip on the jet boat market. Retaining nearly 80-percent of all total jet boat sales in the world, Yamaha is unequivocally the industry leader in this regard. But with boats exceeding $36,000 for its lowest entry point, many looking for something priced like a personal watercraft but needing a larger vessel like a jet boat are priced out of the market. That is, until recently if what we are seeing here comes to fruition…

Over the weekend, social media was buzzing with speculation after a grainy cell phone image emerged of Yamaha Motor Corp. USA engineers testing a prototype WaveRunner-based vessel. Snapped from a passing boat on Allatoona Lake, the spied prototype employs existing FX WaveRunner seats, handlebars and portions of the deck; the dashboard, forward fairings and bow storage have been replaced by a durable – albeit temporary – structure and large digital screen standing on an aluminum strut.

Appearing to have large foot-to-two foot wide footwells and a thick gunwale, the Yamaha boat rides on a widened hull with a deep-set outside chine and splash deflector. Observers were quick to note that the prototype appeared to be incomplete and wholly missing its top deck cover. Powered by an existing TR-1 3-cylinder or new-for-2024 1.9L High Output marine engine, this Yamaha boat would enjoy the reliability of the WaveRunner jet-drive propulsion system and fuel delivery system.

When rendered to cover the boat’s large width and low-slung profile, a handful over commenters were reminded of the short-lived “Sea Saucer,” a limited-run of 300 rental units based upon the WaveRunner 650 in 1996. For those who recall, the Sea Saucer dramatically widened the 2-seater WaveRunner 650, making tipping and rollovers neigh impossible; the massive 12-foot length and similar width also provided renters plenty of protection from impacts or collisions with other boaters.

While an unofficial product not sold through Yamaha dealerships, a small handful of rental outfits were able to purchase the Sea Saucer through official channels as a WaveRunner. It is rare to find much online regarding the Sea Saucer and rarer still to see pictures of one still in use. Yet, as Yamaha Motor Corp. USA seeks to expand its boating market, designing a WaveRunner that manages to bridge its personal watercraft division with its massive jet boat market presence could be a massive boon to the brand.

Alas, what we have to go off of here is almost entirely speculative. For all we know, this is a “test buck,” a rough-but-functional craft used solely to “durability test” different powertrain components (or otherwise). Considering Yamaha just recently introduced a new 1.9-liter naturally-aspirated 4-stroke, which was revealed to consume fuel at the same rate of the outgoing SVHO engine, we might be seeing engineers troubleshooting the new engine’s fuel consumption issues. So again, this is entirely speculative.

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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