Editor's Note: In September of 2013, Sea Ray announced that they would not be putting either of their new jet boat models, the 21 Jet and the 24 Jet, into production. Read Sea Ray Reverses Decision to Enter Jet Boat Market
There seems to be a significant jet boat revival going on (as we first told you in New Jet Boats: A Renaissance is Underway), but up until now, all of the new jets to enter the market have been on the small side. That’s come to an end, with the introduction of the Sea Ray 24 Jet. This twin-engine bowrider is powered by a pair of 155-hp intercooled, turbocharged, four-stroke Weber MPE-850 engines, and as I discovered while running the boat on the Tennessee River, they provide performance and handling that’s nothing short of awesome.
Although this power package provides just 70 more horses than the Sea Ray 21 Jet carries, the 24 still hits a top-end speed of over 45-mph. That’s just about one mph less than the 21 hit when I ran it on the same day, in the same conditions. Most surprising, however, is how the boat handles. The 24 Jet feels more like a PWC than a boat, gripping tight in hair-pin turns, spinning doughnuts, and—since you can shift from forward right into reverse and pour on the coals—slamming on the “brakes”. Surprisingly, the changes in direction and shift in G-force are not abrupt, and even when I went a little berserk at the helm, none of my passengers felt like they were going to be thrown out of their seat or pitched over the side.
The secret behind the 24 Jet’s handling comes from the fact that Sea Ray designed this hull to be optimized for jet power. Many jet boats begin life as more traditional models that are modified to hold a different power package, but Sea Ray designed this one from the ground-up. It sports a 20-degree transom deadrise, just 1’7” of draft, and feeds a constant supply of un-disturbed water to the intake. Should that intake get clogged, a problem especially common to jet boats venturing through weedy areas, a lever at the helm allows you to remotely clear it.
Want to see the jets in action? Check out the view, from underwater.
Inside, the 24 Jet is much like the 21 with seating in the bow cockpit, a walk-through windshield, and transom seating that allows you to sit facing either forward or aft. So, what does the extra LOA get you? Capacity, for one thing. While the 21 Jet is maxed-out at 10 people, the 24 can hold up to 13. Another big perk it gets you is a roomy head compartment in the passenger’s side console.
Now let’s back up for a moment, and utilize that aft-facing ability we were talking about earlier. Have a seat, and give a close look at the swim platform you’re resting your feet on. Note that it’s covered in grippy, comfortable Sea Tec, and the entire platform is extremely low-slung. That makes it easy to get in and out of the boat, whether you’re wakeboarding or anchoring up at the beach. One note about anchoring, though. While I love the fact that the 24 Jet has a dedicated anchor locker, something glaringly omitted from some jet boats, the hatch leans back on its hinges, unsupported. If this were my boat, I’d want a strap or strut added, to prevent damage from someone carelessly leaning on the open hatch.
|Fuel capacity||55 gal.|
The boat we tested also had the optional tubular aluminum arch with shun shade and a towing bit, a must-have for those who are into adrenaline-generating watersports like wakeboarding. And that arch tilts down for easy towing, or passing under low bridges. You can get some radical-looking wakeboard racks, too, but truth be told there’s plenty of stowage for watertoys elsewhere in the 24 Jet. It has a large compartment in the deck, with a hatch that swings open on gas-assist struts.
Time for more truth: even though you don’t need those racks, you might want ‘em simply because they look so cool. And looking good is part of the mission of this boat. It’s available in four two-tone gel coat color choices, a black bottom, and with matching vinyl color-combinations.
|Test conditions: Less than 1 foot chop, winds 5 - 10 knots, 1 POB|
Power: Twin 155-hp MPE-850 Weber engines w/jet drives. Fuel consumption figures courtesy of Weber Motor Corporation.
It’s been invigorating for many of us in the boating industry to see the jet boat segment take off like this, after years of sitting in the doldrums. It’s been great to see the Sea Ray 21 Jet make a splash in the market, and for competitors like Yamaha to roll out hot new models like the AR/SX 192. But now things have gotten even more interesting. With the introduction of the Sea Ray 24 Jet, this player has proven their not just interested in growing the market—they’re growing the boats that dwell in it, too.
For more information, visit Sea Ray.