Seven years ago, Gizmag's Mike Hanlon made a bold prediction: the 400-horsepower PWC cometh. With Benelli's top of the line V6 jet ski smashing out some 342 horsepower, and a series of supercharged Hondas, Sea-Doos, MV Agustas and Kawasakis nipping at its heels, it seemed a horsepower war was brewing. But in the aftermath of 2008's global financial system collapse, it seems things have gone back to slightly more sensible levels. We say *more* sensible, because Benelli has just rebranded its PWC business as Belassi and built a brand new, turbocharged engine pounding out 315 horses to take the mantle of the world's current reigning production PWC horsepower champion. It's not the 400-horsepower beast that Mike feared, but it still looks like a heck of a fun way to burn petrol.
About seven years ago, HSR-Benelli created the most powerful jet ski in the world. The Series-R Race Edition mashed together two 1130cc, 3-cylinder engines from Benelli's barnstorming Tornado motorcycle to form a fire-breathing, 342-horsepower V6.
More recently, the company moved to Thailand and teamed up with Lasselsberger Engineering to form Belassi. This new company immediately set about developing a new engine specifically for marine applications – the I3C16.
Staying true to Benelli's 3-cylinder roots, the I3C16 is a 1602bcc, four-stroke triple with an electronically operated E-gas throttle and a dry sump oil system.
It powers the entire Belassi range – in its most extreme form, with turbocharger and intercooler, it makes some 315 horsepower in the B3R Sport, making it the most powerful 3-cylinder PWC ever made, and since the Series-R Race Edition is no longer in production, it's the current production PWC horsepower champion. The B3R Sport is a big fella though, weighing in at 380 kilos, or ~840 pounds.
Belassi's Australian distributor Joe Elasmar tells us the B3R is one of the only turbocharged machines on the market, with the Honda Aquatrax F-15X being the other: "Turbochargers are a lot more reliable than the superchargers," he says, "and Belassi has done a great job minimizing turbo lag. The pick-up is fantastic."
In naturally aspirated form, the same engine makes 180 horsepower in the B3S Extreme - which sounds a little disappointing until you realize that the B3S is a stand-up racing machine with no seat, and thus a ton more physical to ride and harder to hang onto. It's actually the most powerful stand-up machine in the market.
The B3R's deep hull design makes for nicely balanced handling, Elasmar tells us: "Sea-Doos tend to be rear heavy, Kawasakis tend to be front heavy, the Belassi is really nicely balanced. It makes for good sharp handling, and behaves well in the air. You guys should come and ride it." We might take you up on that, Joe!
US versions will be speed limited to 65 mph (105 km/h), either using a smaller propeller or with an electronic limiter, to meet the US Coast Guard's maximum speed agreement – but international versions are capable of well over 80 mph (129 km/h) for those with the cojones to hold onto the throttle, and we're imagining de-restriction is probably going to be a fairly trivial exercise for those that want the full banana.
Pricing for the B3R Sport is expected to be around US$30,000, making it a very expensive toy. Mind you, it'd be almost an afterthought in the hold of a $50 million superyacht. So maybe grab one of those first and the PWC price tag will be an easier pill to swallow.