By William Burgess
In the world of powersports ownership it can be hard to decide where to start as a new rider. Should I get a small motorcycle or moped to cut my teeth? Maybe get a snowmobile so I can go up north with my buddies and ride? Go for the low barrier to entry of an ORV?
There are lots of great options, especially as the automotive sphere begins to electrify and produce more dual purpose machines (think the KTM X2 concept or snowbikes like the Timbersled) which owners can enjoy in more ways than one. But rarely do people associate a personal watercraft first when thinking of a powersports vehicle. Even more rare: a pontoon boat.
But, it’s true! In 2022 Sea-Doo began shipping their new ultralight pontoon to your local Sea-Doo dealership to park among the adventure bikes and quads. Perhaps your local dealer is already a marine store, but you have to admit, the crossover of traditional recreation customers—that is, purveyors of RVs, boats, and all other manner of four-wheel toys you only break out on weekend drives—don’t always intermingle with the dirty and crass powersports lot.
Enter the pontoon that drives like a jet-ski. Not only does the Switch bridge the gap between those who want a cheap and easy to transport toy, it also encourages them to get a closer look at a Spyder RT or a Maverick X3 to find out that they’re not so big and scary after all!
Like the Slingshot did for Polaris, it brought a new consumer to their Polaris dealerships to kick the tires on a three-wheel thrill ride, but it also encouraged brand loyalty should they later consider looking into an ATV or side by side to extend the riding season a little longer after the chill of winter begins to set in.
Moreover, Polaris recently introduced an automatic version of the Slingshot to further cater to the crowds of Millennials and even Gen Z with cash, but who have little interest in traditional powersports. Make it inexpensive, make it simple to drive, and make it easy to take it from point A to point B: that’s where these vehicles shine.
Boat ownership, as they say, isn’t for everyone. Boats can be expensive, difficult to maintain and store, you have to buy the trailer, and not to mention the learning curve to the whole docking thing. The Switch somehow manages to take all of these concerns into consideration and turn them into an innovative craft that still manages to creates thrills and throw all cares to the wind, like you’re driving a pontoon made by a PWC company.
By incorporating features like the clear sidewalls, you have an easy view of what is around you, or just how close you are getting to the dock from the vantage point of your captain’s chair. The handlebar steering inspired by the form and function of their PWC lineup, gives the Switch not only great handling, but easy stability when going to park. Couple that with Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Braking & Reverse (iBR) system, and docking is a breeze.
Further, the Switch tackles the concern of trailering by including a perfect fit trailer designed for the tri-toon hull with the purchase of your vehicle. And if you’re worried about your pontoon getting musty or infested when it’s not in use: almost the entire deck of the craft is modular. You can remove floor mats, tables, and even whole seats to store away wherever you like; out of the sun, out of the rain, away from nature.
And it is this modular configuration that also endears new riders to the Switch. Say you bought a pontoon for weekend adventures with your family of four. You have it set up just right for a slow cruise or perhaps some tubing. Now your neighbors want to come visit and go for a sunset picnic cruise, and you’re just not sure if everyone can fit.
Never worry if you bought the right boat again when you can quickly and easily order more seating and rearrange the table configuration so everyone can sit where they are comfortable, while keeping the chatter going by rearranging the deck like that of a convivial conversation pit of yesteryear.
And the best part of all: the Switch Compact 130hp model comes in at under 13′ ft. in length, making it the size of a sedan, meaning you could conceivably park it where you would a car, other than being a fair bit wider than even a Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Considering you can do all of this and manage to keep the price point under $30,000 all inclusive, and it’s obvious why the Switch gets our pick for not only being innovative in the boating scene, but also in introducing new, younger riders to powersports and watersports in a vehicle that’s not your dad’s Sun Tracker (and we’re not the only publication that thinks so too!).
Considering Sea-Doo has also been upping the ante with their PWC lineup by introducing not only pontoons for fishing enthusiasts and long-haul backwater riders with the world’s first adventure personal watercraft, they are also bringing hydrofoil craft into their lineups as well to further encourage more people to “live the Sea-Doo life.”
Those who could get their hands on a Switch this year have also proclaimed a high level of customer satisfaction, which only serves to make us all the more jealous there isn’t one hitched to our trucks or cars (and, yes, you can tow this with a light-duty vehicle!).
Sea-Doo has certainly come a long way since their days of manufacturing jet boats and simple couch-style watercraft. We hope to continue to see more innovations and revolutions in the world of powersports like this from BRP and their family of brands.
Want to learn more about some innovative watercraft that we wish you could still spot on the water? Take a look at our article on the Shuttlecraft PWC which included a dockable hull to turn your watercraft into a complete boat.
Cover: The Sea-Doo Switch is our selection for Vehicle of the Year for 2022. | Sea-Doo BRP Media
Will Burgess is a journalist with Adrenaline Powersports Mag