Gallery: Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 255

A personal watercraft puts on the brakes

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After eight years of research, Sea-Doo finally unveiled the GTX Limited iS 255, the first personal watercraft (PWC) with on-water braking. Traditional PWCs make up less than 10 percent of recreational boats yet account for 24 percent of all accidents, in large part because they have no brakes and cannot be steered when the throttle is released.

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Traditional personal watercraft merely slow to a stop after you let go of the throttle, but when a rider squeezes the Sea-Doo's bicycle-like handbrake, a computer cuts the power so the forward jet quickly stops thrusting. The computer also calculates the precise amount of thrust needed to counter the forward momentum, and drops an aluminum gate up to two inches below the hull, creating drag and reversing the thrust to slow the craft down.

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A Sea-Doo traveling at 50 mph can come to a dead stop in about 100 feet--half the distance of a brakeless personal watercraft (PWC). The Sea-Doo may also be the most comfortable PWC on the water; a unique gas-shock-equipped full suspension--another PWC first--swallows choppy water and can be adjusted on the fly for either a stiffer, performance-oriented ride or a cushy cruise.

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Look for the braking system and full suspension in three additional Sea-Doo models for 2010, including the newly upgraded 260-horsepower GTX Limited iS 260, and for the braking system alone in four other models.

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Front view of the Sea-Doo.

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Side view of the Sea-Doo personal watercraft.