If jet skis are punk, pontoon boats are more like album-oriented rock. They're more sedate and comfortable rather than lairy and outrageous. That was until Sea-Doo went and built a line of bonkers pontoon boats with triple-digit horsepower figures.
Yes, the Sea-Doo Switch is a tri-hull pontoon boat with serious performance. It's available with a healthy 130 horsepower in its compact 13-foot configuration, and the same power is also available in the 16-foot model. If you have a bit more of a need for speed, though, you can upgrade to the 19-footer Switch 19, with a mighty 170 horsepower courtesy of the Rotax 1630 ACE engine. The smallest model will carry five passengers, while the larger boats will carry eight and ten, respectively.
Alternatively, those with a more serious need for speed can upgrade to the Switch Sport. This puts the 170-horsepower engine into the compact 13-foot model, while the 18-foot and 21-foot versions get a mighty 230 horsepower.
The magic of the design is that Sea-Doo took a pontoon boat, but threw away the usual outboard motor. Instead, the Switch uses water jet propulsion, just like the company's popular jet ski models. The outer pontoons also sit slightly higher up, creating a pontoon boat that can carve through turns. Controls are similar to a jet ski's as well, as the Switch is steered and driven from the handlebars. It even comes with a safety yard with a wrist strap.
All that combines to make a pontoon boat that can seriously hoon. In a test by TK Powersports, the 18-foot Switch Sport hit a mighty 45 mph with the 230 horsepower engine. Coming to a stop is no problem, either, as Sea-Doo equipped the Switch with a brake to help slow the boat down in a hurry.
Much like a modern sports car, the Switch comes with a variety of driving modes. The boat can be set to Sport for maximum action, or Eco mode to save fuel. Sea-Doo then counts cruise control as the third mode, which keeps the boat humming along at a constant speed.
The benefit of the pontoon boat design is that it has a modular, reconfigurable deck. This allows the layout of the deck to be reconfigured for different activities, such as fishing, cruising, or waterskiing. Passenger seating in particular can easily be swapped around with minimal fuss, though it bears noting that the drive console is fixed in place.
If you're thinking of buying one, keep in mind that the Switch is a fair bit larger than a typical jet ski. However, all Switch boats come with a purpose-built trailer from the factory to ease getting them down to the water.
Sea-Doo looks to have created a fun chimera in the Switch. It combines the power of a jet ski with the practicality of a pontoon boat, and you get to share it with a bunch of friends. That sounds to us like a good time out on the water. Just keep your throttle lust in check!
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