To pull the trigger on the new Yamaha WaverRunner FZR is to experience unrelenting acceleration, the kind of get-up-and-gone that never, ever gets old. Updated for 2014 with an all-new powertrain that Yamaha claims is “race ready,” this highest-performance WaveRunner delivers performance that demands constant respect.

Waverunner FZR

Why is this man smiling? Because the explosive acceleration of a Yamaha WaveRunner FZR with the SVHO engine is really, really fun.

The FZR throttle controls a new Yamaha Super Vortex High Output (SVHO) engine, a tuned-up version of the four-cylinder 1.8-liter SHO motor that was the previous top performer in the WaveRunner stable. Yamaha says the SVHO engine produces 20 percent more horsepower and torque than the SHO thanks to a larger supercharger and a 60 percent increase in boost pressure, a 25 percent more-efficient intercooler, a larger oil cooler, updated fuel injection and forged pistons. Yamaha does not publish official horsepower ratings for any of its engines, but I calculate that the SVHO cranks out about 252 horsepower. To better harness that power, Yamaha devised a new 160mm eight-vane jet pump to replace the 155mm six-vane pump it has used for years. A new top-loader intake grate delivers a solid flow of water to the stainless steel impeller, and a revised ride plate helps keep the nose down when the throttle is punched.

If all these updates sound like a shopping list of aftermarket speed equipment, well, that’s sort of the point. Yamaha has essentially fitted the FZR with the key components typically selected to build a stout competition-ready boat, parts it says are worth about $3,000. Unlike a home-built race boat, this FZR has been factory engineered, and comes with a warranty. Note that this engine does require premium fuel.

Yahama SVHO

The new Yamaha SVHO engine. A larger supercharger is on the front, and a more efficient oil cooler is the copper-colored device on the side.

Other than the powertrain, the FZR SVHO has a similar list of features to the previous FZR model, including a trim-able jet pump outlet, a deeply bolstered sport seat (it’s rated for two passengers but it’s more like 1.5), a three-position telescoping steering post, and 21.3 gallons of combined stowage in the bow and below the seat. The FZR has a drive-by-wire throttle, but does not have the cruise-control features found on the WaveRunner FX models. It does come with a key fob remote that controls a security system and a “learning mode” that reduces engine power by 30 percent. Updates include reshaped sponsons, a new texture on the seat trim, soft Hydro-Turf mat material on the boarding deck and restyled instruments that I found hard to read.

The two-passenger FZR (and the FZS, which is the same boat with a longer, three-passenger seat and a tow eye) is 11 feet 1 inch long and has a dry weight of 827 pounds. The hull and deck are molded with Yamaha NanoXcel composite material that Yamaha says shaves off 70 pounds of weight compared to traditional SMC material. Yamaha also brought NanoXcel construction to the 2014 Waverunner VX.

The deep seat and wasp-waisted cowl combine to help lock the rider in position, and the sensation is not unlike that of being aboard a high-performance sport motorcycle, which is apt because a very fast sport bike is about the only vehicle I've ridden that can accelerate this hard. Zero to 30 mph pops up in just over a second, and the engine’s computer controls are programmed specifically to maximize hole shot. Wide-open throttle rpm is limited to 7300, but on acceleration the engine will spin up to 7800 rpm for six to eight seconds before gliding back down as the FZR nears its peak speed. I’m assuming Yamaha has dialed back the peak by 500 rpm to keep the FZR top speed below the industry-standard limit, which is 67 mph with a 200-pound passenger and a full fuel tank. With a lighter passenger and less fuel, however, the FRZ will zoom effortlessly past 70 mph. But more impressive than the top speed is this boat’s new-found mid-range acceleration. At 5000 rpm the FZR is loafing along at 35 mph. Pull the throttle and it just leaps out of the water. There is no hole in the powerband, and the response is instantaneous. The FZR handles as well as it goes fast, thanks to those new sponsons. I found that I could steer the FZR with throttle – as I accelerated out of a turn the radius tightened as the pump sucked the hull deeper in to the water. On smooth water, this is a lot of fun.
Displacement827 lbs
Fuel capacity18.5 gal.

Racing across the lake at near 70 mph the FZR tracks true even in a light chop. Running at that speed, however, requires constant vigilance for other boat traffic because you are a very small craft moving extremely fast and may be hard to see, even with the Yamaha tell-tale spout shooting into the air. Which is why the FZR is a tool best handled by experienced riders.

Watch 2014 Yamaha WaveRunner FZR First Look Video

Both the FZR and FZS are priced at $14,499. The only difference between the two models is color and seat capacity. Because it has the three-up seat, the FZR can be used for towing in most states. Really fast towing, I suppose.

See Yamaha WaveRunner FZR listings.

For more information, visit Yamaha Waverunners.

For more information on top-rated PWCs, read PWC Show-Down: Our Top 10 Personal Watercraft Picks.

Written by: Charles Plueddeman
Charles Plueddeman is's outboard, trailer, and PWC expert. He is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.