Sea-Doo has carved out a niche in the tow-sports market, sponsoring wakeboard events and offering a boarding-specific Wake model that over the years has become more and more specialized, and expensive. For 2009, Sea-Doo offers the new Wake 155, aimed at riders who want to do some towing but don't need to throw down $13,000 for the full-feature Wake Pro 215.
Based on the entry-level GTI SE 155 ($9,699), the $9,999 Wake 155 adds three features to that model: an extendable tow pylon that incorporates a grab handle for a rear-facing observer, a gunwale-mounted board rack, and convex mirrors that offer a wider view aft than the standard GTI mirrors. The pylon ($280) and the board rack ($160) are offered as accessories, but if you buy them with the Wake 155 you'll save $140 (plus the cost of installing the pylon) and get the wide-angle mirrors. The Wake 155 also comes with a black hull and Viper Red deck and seat that are not offered on the other GTI models.
The Wake 155 (www.sea-doo.com) is about three inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter than the Wake Pro 215, which is based on the luxury-touring GTX platform. Like other GTI models, the Wake 155 tends to skim over the water, rather than plow through it, and thus does not offer the cushy ride you get with from the Sea-doo GTX platform. And in no-wake zones, the Wake 155 runs with its bow deep in the water, which frequently sloshes over the deck and into the footwells. In fact, if you've been riding an older GTX Sea-Doo, the Wake 155 will feel very familiar.
Like its GTI cousins, the Wake 155 has a nice, deep glovebox that offers more storage space than the box on the GTX, although the bow stowage is smaller. This model comes with a lift-out bow storage bin that has a water-tight lid. The digital instrument display looks basic but has 17 functions, including a low-fuel warning and a lake water temperature reading. The seat is broad and comfortable, and there are little foot braces for a rear-facing observer, required when towing in some states. The Wake 155 also has a flip-down boarding step, but no trim and no adjustable handlebars.
The 155-hp 1.5-liter Rotax engine provides plenty of power for towing anyone on a board and even a slalom skier. This engine is the base, non-supercharged version of the triple-cylinder Rotax used in every Sea-Doo, and is a good match for this lighter model, which also produces less drag in the water than the GTX hull. A key feature on the engine is the closed cooling system, which keeps salt water out of the engine and maintains a steady engine temperature. Top speed is about 56 mph. If you tow a lot, you'll appreciate the strong mid-range and excellent throttle modulation offered by this engine, which makes it easier to hold a steady speed.
The Wake 155 is also an adequate touring boat that will use less fuel than the heavier GTX models. Its hull slaps its way through a head-sea chop, and if the water gets rougher this boat will toss its rider and passenger around a lot more than the sofa-like GTX. But the Wake 155 is also lighter and more sporty to ride when the water is flat. Go for the Wake Pro 215, and you get a better ride and more power, plus a 200-pounds ballast tank and electric trim with pre-set. Fill that tank and a wake that's already bigger than the trough behind the Wake 155 gets even deeper, which will please boarders.
But if your day on the water is more likely to feature pulling kids in a tube and Uncle Wally on a board - and not towing a hot-shot boarder up to a rail slide - the Wake 155 is probably all the tow-craft you need.