Yamaha Releases Sea-Doo Brake Test Video

Yamaha releases video questioning the effectiveness of Sea-Doo's iBR braking system, but it's interesting to note that not even a car – with rubber tires on pavement — would likely be able to stop in such short distances.

25th June 2010.
By Jeff Hemmel

Yamaha is pulling no punches with a new YouTube video that reportedly shows real consumers trying out Sea-Doo’s iBR braking system. Like a similar video mentioned recently here, this one shows Sea-Doo pilots unable to stop in time to avoid an obstacle in the water, despite the presence of the brake. But also like the aforementioned video, it also puts that obstacle extremely close to the braking point.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…while I think these videos show a valid concern — that in close quarters, an evasive maneuver is often better than relying on the brake — I also think they’re decidedly slanted. Keep in mind, your car, with the traction of a rubber tire on pavement, probably couldn’t stop in such short a distance, either. In fact, at 30 mph a boat travels about 44 feet in one second. At 50 mph, that figure is about 74. In one second.

In fact, without going into the complexities of the math, the stopping distance for the average car at 50 mph has been estimated at 119 feet…and that’s not even taking into account reaction time. Add that in and the realistic figure is about 229 feet to stop…a car.

So why are we so up in arms that a watercraft performs as it does in the video?

Again, I think there are points to consider here. In tight quarters, the brake is not going to prevent you from hitting something, nor would it stop you from hitting something if you were in your car on the road. It’s just not realistic. The better alternative is to avoid the situation if possible by turning and applying throttle.

But the brake does slow you dramatically faster than a boat without brakes. Does that mean we should all immediately get one? Of course not. But it does mean that it works, works well, and allows you to ride and handle a craft in ways not previously possible. A lot of inexperienced riders will panic and simply hit the brakes, not realize they could steer out of problems. In those cases the brake would allow them to at least lessen the speed of any impact, and perhaps even avoid it all together.

I think the big question is how fast you can regain control from the Sea-Doo’s onboard computer. Keep the brake on and it overrides the throttle. Release the brake, however, and you regain throttle and steering control. I don’t recall how fast this happens, but the next time I get aboard a Sea-Doo craft I’m going to try it out.

Better yet, sometime in the next few months I plan to stage my own test to verify – or debunk — the claims in these videos.


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About the author:

Jeff Hemmel

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Jeff Hemmel writes for boats.com, Boating, PersonalWatercraft.com, and Powersports Business. The former Senior Editor at Watercraft World, Jeff is a multi-time award winner as well as a 2008 inductee into the IJSBA Hall of Fame. His first book, "The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon...and 101 Other Things For Young Mariners To Try, Do, & Build On the Water," received a bronze medal in the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. For more info, visit Jeff Hemmel's website.

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