It is no secret that the reverse is poor on the sport jet powered boats. I have never used any of the aftermarket upgrades so I can't comment on how much they improve the reverse.
The aftermarket options to date include:
- Weld-on bucket extensions
- Replacement bucket with extensions
- Scott Waterjet reverse bucket
- Mercury improved reverse bucket
I'm sure there are more but that's all I've heard of...
Wooldridge Equipment has designed the latest offering to help improve the poor reverse. This is an easy Bolt-On replacement bucket that fits exactly as the stock one does. Swapping the bucket should take 15 min or less. I've been doing a bit of testing with it recently and my initial reaction is that it is pretty good.
It is pretty obvious why the stock bucket falls a bit short in performance. Keep in mind that most of the sport jets have a pretty flat bottom so that doesn't lend itself to having a strong reverse, but take a look at the design of the stock bucket. There is nothing in there to guide the water and push it under the boat. The water just crashes into the back of the bucket and goes everywhere. Very little actually makes it under the boat. Here's a couple pics...
Now compare that to the new bucket, notice how the water will be split and routed smoothly back under the boat...
I'll need to do a bit more testing before I give a full review but here are my first impressions...
Improved reverse thrust (Duh?):
I immediately noticed the increased thrust in reverse when I was able to actually back off of the trailer. I put the boat in just deep enough to start the motor and it actually backed off. Usually I have to slide the boat back manually and darn near get it floating before it will ease itself off the trailer.
Reverse speed increased:
As expected, the speed that I can go backwards is quite noticeable. It's not going to set anyone forward in their seat, but it is certainly quicker.
Handling in reverse:
This is perhaps the greatest benefit. Again, the bucket isn't going to turn your boat into a backwards moving rocket by any means, but when you turn the wheel when in reverse the bow of the boat swings around much more quickly.
I believe that the braking power of the stock bucket is pretty good. I've never felt I needed more stopping power. The new bucket does stop much more aggressively though. If I'm not careful I can bury the bow so hard that I cover the windshield and any passengers with water. It actually spooked me just a bit the first time I hit it hard while on step.
MUCH improved bushings:
Anyone who's put many hours on their sport jet has probably had to deal with the plastic bushings in the bucket. They are wimpy and don't hold up worth a darn in the silty water. The new bucket has nice thick bronze bushings. I'd bet these things will last a long long time. Another thing is if they do ever wear out, they can be purchased from a hardware store like Home Depot for a couple bucks. I've grown tired of the standard bushings and having to change them a couple times per season. I suspect that I won't be swapping bushings anytime soon with the new bucket.
I still need to do some more testing. I'd like to film some boats with the stock bucket and new bucket to really try and dial in the benefits. It would be nice to find a couple guys with other sport jet boats that would like to assist. I'd like to meet up at Finger Lake and spend a couple hours testing the bucket. I'd like to swap the bucket and test it on a couple other boats too. Swapping the bucket is a quick job so we could easily do it in the parking lot. Let me know if you're interested.
I'll post a video report as soon as Finger Lake open up just a tad bit more. Judging by what it looked like today, it should only be a few more days until it is open enough to test a few boats without having to deal with any ice...