BOAT REVIEW Waverunner FX Series

February 2020 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim. Photography and video by Roger Mills.
Build Quality
MODEL Waverunner FX Series
BUILDER Yamaha Japan
CONSTRUCTION High-pressure moulded NanoXcel2 lightweight composite
LOA 3.58M
BEAM 1.27M
ENGINE 1812cc four-cylinder supercharged and naturally aspirated
Passenger Capacity 3 people
  • Powerful and smooth-riding
  • Supercharged and naturally aspirated versions
  • Five-model range
  • Lots of storage
  • Very stable at rest
  • RiDE control system among the best available

Topping Yamaha’s Waverunner 2020 range of personal watercraft is the FX series, available in two power options and five models, including versions ideal for fishing.

New Zealand’s leading Waverunner dealership, Farnley’s Yamaha, is a partnership between Chris Farnley, who started Farnley’s Jetskis in Christchurch in 1998, and James Hormon, Dealer Principal/Director of the Auckland North Shore dealership.

We joined Chris, James and the team from Farnley’s Yamaha with a selection of the new Waverunner FX models at Takapuna Boat Ramp for a morning on the water. Among them was a Waverunner FX HO JetFish, a fishing model exclusive to Farnley’s.

Ready to fish
Fishing from PWCs is growing in popularity, explained James, with demand for suitable models ramping up all the time. Most PWC retailers will equip skis for fishing, adding cool boxes, rod holders, electronics and accessories as specified by the customer, or supplying off-the shelf, do-it-yourself kitsets. But Farnley’s Yamaha has taken things a step further with the Jetfish, which is ready to fish straight off the showroom floor.


Working with Manta Marine, Navico/Lowrance and Yamaha, Farnley’s Yamaha offer complete fishing packages, equipped with an extremely robust, Farnley’s exclusive Manta stainless-steel transom cage, six rod holders, a 70-litre Icey-Tek chilly bin and a bracket-mounted 7-inch Lowrance Elite Ti fishfinder-chart plotter (9-inch optional). Different transducer options are available, but Farnley’s standard through-hull installation preserves the hull’s integrity and is more than adequate for most fishing applications.

Fishing packages on good-quality galvanised steel trailers are offered with top-quality fishing accessories assembled and professionally installed – no waiting for the PWC of your choice to be modified for fishing or any dithering over which electronics package to fit – it’s all been taken care of. Just hitch up the ski and go fishing.

2020 models
Yamaha’s Japanese-made 2020 Waverunner FX Series features a new hull design, introduced in 2019. Stronger and lighter than the old FX, it offers even better stability and ride. The hull and decks are moulded under high compression from strong but extremely light, plastic-free NanoXcel material. Light weight means an excellent power to weight ratio.

The new models have also doubled down on storage, which is extensive – 166 litres, split between the cavernous front locker, a water-resistant glovebox and under the rearmost seat, where a removable watertight container is ideal for wallets, car keys and other valuables.

Power across the FX range is courtesy of Yamaha’s large capacity 1812cc four-cylinder four-stroke engine, in either supercharged or naturally-aspirated form. SVHO models are supercharged and fitted with larger 160mm high-pressure jet-pumps for ultimate performance, while HO models are naturally-aspirated with slightly smaller diameter pumps for lesser (but still awesome) thrust, but better fuel economy and range.

HO models are popular with the fishing fraternity, many of whom like to travel long distances chasing their quarry. With sensible operation, an FX Cruiser HO or FX HO should cover 150km on a tank of petrol, with fuel left in reserve.

While any FX series Waverunner can be turned into a fishing machine, the FX HO model is the most a popular choice, explained James. Like the supercharged FX SVHO, which is a hit with fishers more interested in outright performance than ultimate range, it has a flatter seat profile that’s better suited to fishing. Waverunner FX LTD SVHO, and FX Cruiser SVHO and HO models have super-comfortable, but higher profile, ‘theatre-style’ seating for up to three passengers.

Waverunner FX hulls are so stable that much of your fishing will be done sitting sideways, so a flatter seat just works better. It’s also easier to swing your leg over and to traverse when accessing your rods or placing fish in the ice box on the transom.

I felt totally secure sitting sideways on the Jetfish seat during our brief fishing session – even standing on the running board with both feet on the same side didn’t feel precarious. This stability was also evident when mounting the ski from the beach – you can just step aboard without fear of it tipping over. Of course, there is a deep, wide rear fold-down step for mounting the ski, which is the best way to board in deep water.

I’m hardly a PWC veteran, but my limited experience didn’t hold me back and I was soon skipping across the waves and carving power turns with the best of them. These machines are highly addictive!

Yamaha’s FX Series Waverunners are extremely easy to drive. Yamaha’s proprietary RiDE system for accelerating, decelerating and reversing is superb. Controls are intuitive and the levers are well weighted to minimise fatigue. Cruise control is standard – great on a long run – the drive is trimmable for optimum hull attitude, and the handlebars are tilt-adjustable.

A colour LCD touch-screen display shows speed, engine revolutions, drive trim, fuel level, battery voltage and various diagnostics. Fully customisable, it can be configured to show a whole lot more. In addition, customisable speed settings are available for learner riders, for towing and fuel management, along with three pre-programmed No Wake modes for travelling through speed restricted zones.

My morning with the JetFish included a couple of reasonable runs, giving me the opportunity to engage cruise control, which works a treat. We were out for long enough and travelled far enough for me to get a decent feel for the PWC’s ride and handling. Even with the HO model I was riding, power delivery is instantaneous – and the power keeps coming on strong for as long as you squeeze the lever. It’s exhilarating, but completely controllable.

Low speed control is excellent, too, including in reverse (Advanced Reverse Assist makes launching off the trailer and retrieving again easier). I particularly like the ease with which you can engage neutral. It’s just a slight touch of the left-hand ‘reverse/decelerate’ lever. The left-hand controls power in reverse, which can also be used to ‘brake’ the ski if you need to decelerate in a hurry; the right-hand lever controls power delivery with the ski going forward.

While sea conditions were mostly flat, there were plenty of wakes for the Waverunner to master, plus a bit of wind chop towards the end of the session when the rain set in. The hull is certainly a dry runner and, the rain aside, I remained comfortable and relaxed the whole time.

One of the attractions of a PWC is versatility. Yamaha’s Waverunner FX Series effortlessly fulfils family fun duties, easily carrying three adults and towing skiers and water toys. But, depending on the model, it also has the power, rough water agility and range for serious long-distance cruising, along with the ability to provide performance junkies with the ride of their lives.

Add a few accessories and a Waverunner FX also makes a superb fishing platform – Farnley’s Yamaha is struggling to keep up with demand for its Waverunner FX HO Jetfish.


Elite 15.8m Sport Sedan

The pride and joy of a multi-generational family, Bliss resides on a pier that’s home to a couple of other Elite motor launches – Sandspit Marina is a hot-spot for the Bill Upfold-designed vessels, with several calling this small marina home.


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