scored the first drive on Yamaha’s water rocket, which makes waves with a lighter, stronger hull—courtesy of nanotech
You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when a rollercoaster slips over the edge of a huge drop? I got it the first time I grabbed a fistful of throttle on Yamaha’s 2008 FX Cruiser SHO WaveRunner. And I liked it.
I was flying over a glassy lake near Yamaha’s headquarters in Newnan, Georgia, as the first civilian to test-drive the beast. And I mean flying. The FX Cruiser packs one of the most powerful—and cleanest-running—engines in the industry: a 1.8-liter, supercharged four-stroke with roughly the same power as an Audi TT coupe.
But the big news is the WaveRunner’s ultralight hull—the first to use nanotechnology. Instead of hand-laying a traditional fiberglass-and-resin hull, Yamaha combines fiberglass resin with nanoscale particles of clay, melding it all together in a high-compression mold. This new recipe links molecules together in an overlapping design that boosts strength and stiffness while reducing weight by 25 percent.
With more power and less heft, the FX Cruiser jumped from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6.8 seconds—as fast as a sports car—and went from 0 to 30 in just 1.8 whiplash-inducing seconds. The light, stiff hull was so nimble, I felt like I was riding on rails even as I cranked a sharp turn at 50 miles an hour. All this helps with fuel efficiency, too, but that was the last thing on my mind as I blew past the Yamaha guys who were trying in vain to wave me back to the dock. —Mark Anders
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.