About Jeff Hemmel

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.

Yamaha Unveils 2011 VX Models With 1.8L Engine

Yamaha released the details of its 2011 line on the company’s own website Thursday afternoon, and the big news is a pair of craft — the VXR and VXS — that promise high-performance at a low price.

As some web observers had speculated, the craft take the VX hull, made with lightweight NanoXcel technology, and pair it with the 1.8-liter engine of the FZ line. The combo allows Yamaha to offer high-performance without superchargers or intercoolers, and keep the price below $11,000.

“We challenged ourselves to create a WaveRunner that could run out in front of the most high performance watercraft on the market, and to do it at a price thousands less than anything else,” said Scott Watkins, Yamaha’s product development manager. “We achieved it by matching our 1812cc engine, the largest displacement in the industry, with a lightweight compact platform. By doing this, we didn’t need to rely on a supercharger or intercooler to meet the top end of our performance benchmarks, which helped keep the price low. And the performance continues to run laps around the competition.”

Here’s Watkins doing a video walk-around of the new models…

UWP-IJSBA National PWC Champions

The UWP-IJSBA National Championships wrapped up last weekend in Charleston, West Virginia, and the results are in on who took the titles. Congratulations to all the racers, as well as all those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep personal watercraft racing in the limelight.

And now, meet your new champions…

Pro-Am Ski GP — Rob Flores

Pro-Am Runabout Open — Erminio Iantosca

Pro-Am Runabout 800 SS — Eric Lagopoulos

Pro Freestyle — Jeremy Parr

Pro-Am Ski Stock — Rob Flores

Expert Ski Limited — Alec Hohnadell

Pro-Am Runabout Stock — Troy Snyder

Sport Modified — Vincent DeVito

Womens Runabout Limited — Sabrin Basile

Yamaha To Unveil 2011 PWC Lineup Aug. 27

When it rains, it pours.

Just almost exactly at the moment when much of the boating press will be assembled at an undisclosed location for Sea-Doo’s unveiling of its 2011 lineup, Yamaha has announced that it will be unveiling its own 2011 lineup of WaveRunners on the company’s website — www.yamaha-motor.com.

Yup, tune in to the Yamaha site at 12 noon PST on Thursday, August 27th, and you’ll see exactly what the manufacturer has in store for the coming model year. The unveiling will beat Sea-Doo to the punch by several days, as Sea-Doo’s information is embargoed until August 30th.

Just what will we see from the Japanese manufacturer? It’s anybody’s guess at this point, but as previously stated here, the hottest rumors of the moment continue to be a fun, inexpensive craft. Some have predicted the 1.8-liter engine will also find its way into the ever-popular VX line.

Personally, I’ll wait to see what shows up on the website Thursday afternoon. Should make for good conversation at that night’s dinner table…

Win A Trip To Lake Havasu For IJSBA PWC World Championships, Including Transportation In Private Jet!

Holy shnikes, how did I ever miss this one?

McGraw Insurance is behind a contest dubbed Highway to Havasu, which will award one lucky winner and guest the opportunity to not only attend the IJSBA World Finals, but to also get their in “rock-star style” aboard a private jet! If that’s not enough, also included are deluxe accommodations and entrance to all the racing and parties that make up the World Finals weekend.

The deadline for the contest is September 12th, 2010, so get to highwaytohavasu.com now to sign up. Hey, somebody’s going to win it, so it might as well be you…

PWC Movie Gets Facebook Page

Good news, movie fans. Larry Rippenkroeger’s eagerly awaited PWC racing flick, Hot Water, now has an official Facebook fan page — www.facebook.com/pages/Hot-Water/141980195841938.

Yes, just the mere existence of the page seems to make the project more of a reality. But check it out and you’ll also see that a few more details about the movie are disclosed, including the initial poster (let’s just say it stretches reality by showing racers negotiating a buoy seconds before a 30-foot wave slaps them silly while also suggesting there might be a little “what happens on tour stays on tour” romance), the screenwriter (yup, it’s Rippenkroeger himself), the tagline (“Fun, sun, speed, and adrenaline, what every summer should have”) and this initial glimpse at the plot (kid gets into one too many crazy mishaps, so Dad decides to get rid of unruly teen for the summer by sponsoring a team and sending him on the pro race tour).

Don’t think I didn’t catch the irony of that last part…

Anyway, those of you on Facebook may want to “Like” the page to keep updated on any further developments, including what’s going on with filming during the Lake Havasu World Finals, as well as some upcoming filming this winter in the Hawaiian surf.

Blowsion Surf Slam PWC Event Set For Sep. 10-12

Freeride events are gaining popularity fast, meaning there’s a lot of anticipation for the upcoming Blowsion Surf Slam, scheduled for September 10-12 in Pacific City, Oregon.

This year, the Surf Slam combines the second round of the IFWA Freeride World Championship Tour with the IJSBA Freeride World Cup and Motosurf Western Championship. That means there will be a LOT of action on the water at the Tierra Del Mar Beach Resort, located just north of Pacific City.

According to organizers, both Pro and Amateur Freeriders will compete in a head-to-head, double-elimination format. A panel of professional judges will score them equally on both wave surfing and aerial maneuvers. I’ve been to Pacific City before, and besides being just an awesome section of coastline, it should crank up some great surf. Competitors will be looking for aerials in excess of 20 feet, while performing tricks including multiple-rotation backflips, barrel rolls, floaters, look backs, aerial re-entries and no-handed landings.

New this year for Saturday is the K&S Kuwait Big Air Showdown. This air fest offers the top pros and aggro rookies the opportunity to go out and win the best aerial trick and the $500 top prize.

The action will also take place on the race course, with the top 20 Pro, Pro-Am, and Amateur wave racers duking it out in the IJSBA MotoSurf Invitational.

Freeride qualifying will begin on Friday, September 10th. Motosurf racing will take place on Saturday and Sunday Sept 11th and 12th. The main events will take place Saturday and Sunday from 8am-4pm. Rounding out the amenities of this action-packed weekend is a vendor and sponsor display area created to add to the festival environment and allow the top vendors and sponsors to show off their wares.

Sea-Doo Teases New 2011 Model With Brakes For Under $9K

There’s a lot of fast cutting, which makes it hard to actually see the craft in question, but the words onscreen make it abundantly clear — Sea-Doo will be releasing a 2011 model with braking and reverse technology for under $8,999.

The mid-August teaser video is designed to whet the appetite for the company’s full-scale produce launch, which I’ll be able to tell you about on August 30th at 12 noon. Rest assured I’ll have the details, as well as my initial riding impressions of the boats in question.

Initial reactions? It seems a lot of my conversations with enthusiasts and industry-types of late has been centered once again on the familiar theme that mainstream PWC have gotten too expensive. If Sea-Doo can bring the functionality of its braking system to a fun boat that’s near the bottom of the price scale, that’s certainly a good thing. Rumors persist that Yamaha may also be unveiling a reasonably priced model for 2011.

Until August 30th, enjoy the video…but don’t expect to glean too many more details. I’ve watched it several times already and the editors have done a good job of keeping the boat in question under wraps.

Wake Pro Shaun Murray Playing In Double Wakes

Shaun Murray has always been one of my favorite wakeboarders, both because he’s just a really cool guy to hang around with, but also because he just does some fun stuff…like this combination wake stunt.

If you’re the impatient type, skip to Ryan Gros’s favorite moment at about 2:48…otherwise, check out the whole thing.

And wish that you had the life of a pro wakeboarder.

MarineMax To Carry Nautique Boats In GA

Looks like MarineMax continues to move into the towsports market. Already known for premier brands like Sea Ray and Boston Whaler, Marine Max will now be including the full lineup of Nautique models in Georgia.

“Nautique is a great fit for MarineMax because it is one of the highest quality brands in the industry, with a strong and passionate following,” explained Bill McGill, president, CEO and chairman of MarineMax. “By continuing to add premium boat brands to compliment our premium service and lifestyle opportunities, we ensure that our customers get the unsurpassed ownership experience that MarineMax delivers.”

Two locations will carry Nautique in the state — MarineMax Buford and MarineMax Cumming. Both locations are certified marine industry dealers.

“Our team has a passion for being on the water and they share this passion with our customers by teaching, servicing and showing them how to have a good time on the water,” said Kyle Johnson, Regional President for MarineMax. “In that respect, we are really excited about representing Nautique. Now we are able to fulfill that desire for tournament-level towboats, and we are already preparing to schedule events with Nautique’s athletes to help teach our customers to enjoy the amazing lifestyle these boats offer.”

A commitment to boating and dependable service was also key factors to sealing the deal, according to Bill Yeargin, Nautique President and CEO.

“I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Bill McGill and the MarineMax team, so it was not a stretch to believe they would be a great representative for Nautique,” explained Bill Yeargin, Nautique President and CEO. “We have discussed on and off over the years our mutual respect and how nice it would be to work together. The opportunity finally presented itself this year, and we are excited.”

New PWC From All Majors For 2011

According to what I consider very reliable sources, all three major manufacturers — Kawasaki, Sea-Doo, and Yamaha — are all going to have new product in store for 2011.

Years ago, this wouldn’t be even considered news. New models were a given, and the press, and later the public, eagerly awaited what was in store at various press intros and dealer meetings. For the last several years, however, continued innovation has been replaced by survival mode at some manufacturers, as everyone waited to see just what the economy was going to do, how high or low the price of gasoline would swing, etc, etc, etc.

I can’t promise that the upcoming stuff will be mind-blowing in the way that some landmark craft have been in the past. But just the confirmation that all three will have something new is a good sign.

Both for the public looking for something to buy…and for those of us writing the stories.