We Went To The South Coast To See How Much Fun We Could Have On A £15,000 Sea-Doo RXP-X 300
Too fast, too furious, a lot of fun, and the Frenchest man in history; our personal water craft experience had everything.
Putting my cards on the table for a second, I'm really not much of a petrolhead. I own a car, one that I use occasionally for shopping runs to Aldi, but engage me in a conversation about horse power or something like that and you'll notice how quickly my eyes glaze over. It's not that I'm anti-car, it's just that I'm pretty indifferent to them.
So, if I'm being totally honest, when Sea-Doo got in touch and asked me if I'd like to try out one of their personal water crafts, I thought "Sure, why the hell not?" rather than "YES! OH MY GOD! YES! THIS IS A DREAM COME TRUE!" Anyway, short story made shorter, that's how myself and Mpora's very own James Renhard ended up road tripping down to the South Coast for some out-of-office larking about.
After getting lost down a genuinely confusing terraced street system in Southwick, near Brighton in West Sussex, we rocked up at Sussex Marine Watersports Ltd to play around on a couple of Sea-Doo's newest machines. The last time I'd been on a personal water craft, I was 10 and had given my mum whiplash by going far too fast over the choppy waves at a Jamaican resort. When they asked whether I'd ever done something like this before, I needless to say left out the bit about giving my mum whiplash.
"You're going too slow, man. Now you will know what true speed feels like"
Turns out my previous experience was enough to go solo on one straight from the off, leaving James to initially at least ride on the back of eccentric French dude Marcel's pride and joy. After getting changed into our wetsuits, in literally the wettest shed in the world, it was time to kick this water sport party up a notch and head out onto the water.
Sitting on the back of a Sea-Doo RXP-X 300, which I would later discover costs around £15,000, I genuinely felt slightly intimidated as I got backed into the water. Garry the shop owner had talked me through the start-up process beforehand, to ensure I didn't flood the engine, but as soon as I fired it up I was taken aback by the potential this thing clearly held. The harbour had a low speed limit, so even though I was just cruising around slowly to begin with I could sense the untapped power thrumming away beneath me.
After some minor technical difficulties with the machine James and Marcel would be on, left me driving slowly in circles round the harbour, we were finally away. As soon as we left the harbour, Marcel shouted "GO! GO! GO!" in my general direction and just like that I decided to see what this thing was all about. I squeezed the throttle. "SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT," I shouted; as the Sea-Doo's ferocious acceleration threatened to leave me kicking my legs in thin air like a cartoon character.
I quickly took my hands off the throttle, gulped in some air to get my breath back, and looked in Marcel's direction. "GO! GO! GO!" he repeated, before disappearing off ahead of me with James behind him clinging on for dear life. "Alright, you crazy bastard," I thought, "Let's do this thing." I squeezed on the throttle again, let out more than enough expletives to make a nun blush from sunrise to sunset, and went as fast as I dared for as long as I could.
The water wasn't the choppiest but, like a conker falling into a lake, we made our own waves. The wake these Sea-Doos throw up is mad. Digging up levels of courage I didn't know I possessed, I was soon treating the wake like a collection of tiny kickers. It felt ridiculously thrilling, thrillingly ridiculous, and ever so slightly like I was auditioning for a presenter spot on the new Top Gear. My cynicism of petrol-based fun had well and truly disappeared. Yes, it was all very silly. Yes, it was all very stupid. But when you're having such a good time, you sort of stop caring.
"...the engine roared beneath me like an angry robot lion."
After about 10 minutes of speeding about, Marcel (who still had James perched on the back of his PWC) pulled up alongside me and said "I think you're ready to go faster. I think you're ready for sport mode." Faster? Sport mode? It was clear from my raised eyebrows that I thought Marcel had lost control of his senses. He pressed a few buttons on my Sea-Doo, looked me in the eye and said "You're going too slow, man. Now you will know what true speed feels like" before cackling like a chain-smoking French bond villain.
He squeezed the throttle on his own machine and shot off like a bullet. James, who was playing with his GoPro, clearly hadn't been told that it was time to go and he fell backwards off the Sea-Doo and into the water. Fortunately, Marcel noticed and came back to get him. He laughed like a madman, as he pulled James back onboard. I liked Marcel, he was entertaining, but the mask of a responsible adult had slipped within minutes of leaving the harbour.
"OK. You follow me," Marcel said. And just like that, he was gone (this time with James still attached). I did as he told me and followed on behind. Immediately, I noticed the difference between the two modes - sport and normal. Sport mode hit me like a brick to the face; an enjoyable brick to the face, but a brick to the face nevertheless.
"FUCKING HELL! FUCKING HELL!" I hollered, as the engine roared beneath me like an angry robot lion. Before this experience, I'd never thought it would be possible to rip apart the space-time continuum on a personal water craft but in those few minutes spent on sport mode I began doubting my admittedly limited physics knowledge.
"FUCKING HELL! FUCKING HELL!" I yelled again.
"OK, now you swap," Marcel said as he pulled up alongside me during a slowdown interval. I was sad to give up my solo rider privileges, but I felt like it was only fair James got to take it for a spin by himself as well. As me and James were swapping, the Sea-Doos made the softest of contact and Marcel suddenly got very precious about his man-toy.
"Do you have £15,000 to buy me new one? Do you?" Marcel said, while busily checking for scratches that weren't there. "Phew. You got lucky," he told me as I got on the back of his Sea-Doo and gripped onto the straps. I decided not to argue back, as I didn't want to make things anymore awkward than they needed to be.
"Where is James?"
Marcel went incredibly quickly. I attempted to film some stuff on the hand-held GoPro while gripping onto the strap with my one free arm, but after nearly falling off a few times and head-butting Marcel in the back of the head another time I decided to quit the filming and just focus entirely upon staying on the Sea-Doo. After heading quite far out to sea, at one point, I began wondering if Marcel was maybe going to ride this thing all the way back to France.
"Where is James?" he said, looking back to the shore.
"Erm, well. I don't know," I said while scouring the view behind us for signs of life.
"OK, we go find him," Marcel replied.
Fortunately, and presumably to 'responsible adult' Marcel's great relief, we found James alive and well fairly quickly. His Sea-Doo was making intermittent beeping noises to signify a lack of petrol.
"Ah, OK. We go back now," Marcel said with a disappointing glint in his eye.
On the way back, Marcel gave us a quick demonstration of his "freestyle" moves. Despite being highly impressive in a "you've clearly spent a lot of time working on this" sort of way, it did kind of remind me slightly of a teenage schoolboy doing donuts in a supermarket car park.
"...the Sea-Doo's ferocious acceleration threatened to leave me kicking my legs in thin air like a cartoon character."
Grey clouds formed over head and within seconds of reaching the harbour, the heavens opened. All the splashing about we'd done on the Sea-Doos though had left us soaking wet already, so the heavy rain did little to dampen our moods.
Final thoughts. I loved messing about on the Sea-Doos. They're dumb, no doubt, but in that way that's so undeniably fun you can't help but enjoy yourself. There's probably more practical ways to spend £15,000 but if you've got the dough going spare, and love tearing it up amongst the waves, why the hell not? Just don't, whatever you do, crash into Marcel. He'll kill you.