The Different Modes & Keys For Sea-Doo Watercraft

Why are there so many driving modes on Sea-Doo jet skis?

Even I sometimes find it confusing, and I’m deeply involved in the watercraft world.

To simplify things for my readers and maintain my sanity, I’ve put together a list of these modes, which I’ll discuss below.

  1. Touring Mode (Default Mode)
  2. Sport Mode
  3. ECO Mode
  4. Slow Speed Mode (Trolling Mode)
  5. Speed Limiter Mode (Cruise Control)
  6. Ski Mode
  7. Learning Key
  8. Rental Key
  9. Normal Key
  10. Launch Mode
  11. Neutral Adjustment Mode
  12. Drown Mode
  13. Dock Mode (Sport Boats)

What Are Driving Modes?

Sea-Doo’s have not always had many modes that can affect how the machine drives and rides.

We first saw driving modes around 2009 when Sea-Doo came out with iBR and started using iTC (intelligent throttle control). At the time, it was simple, you started in touring mode and to go in sport mode you held down the set button and pressed it again. Before that, we had two keys, a fast key and a slow key to control power.

Later on, Sea-Doo started giving these modes their own buttons and started to expand the many driving modes. Some models even got special modes like Ski-Mode or Launch Mode.

Let’s Go Over The Modes

Mode button location on Sea-Doo WAKE

Touring (Default)

Touring mode on is the default mode that most have.

Almost every model with iBR (brakes) will have this mode and a few models without iBR will have it too, like the 90HP+ Sparks. They have changed the name to “Default Mode” instead of touring mode, but it’s the same thing.

Touring mode is a slow take-off that still reaches top speed.

Even when in touring mode, you will still reach the top speed for your PWC, but will be much slower to get to that top speed than in sport mode.

Since touring mode is a slow take-off, it will give you better gas mileage, but still uses more gas than ECO mode.


Sport mode is not the default mode, and you must enter it manually.

Sport mode provides maximum power, rapid acceleration, and unrestricted top speed on a jet ski.

It’s available with a normal key, not with learning or rental keys.

To activate sport mode on current model watercraft, press and hold the mode button (or “Sport Mode” button on some) and confirm using the same button.

Only “break-in mode” will limit Sport mode.


ECO mode, introduced later than touring or sport mode, is available on some older models and most new models.

It offers a gentle take-off and a top speed of around 45 mph, providing the best fuel efficiency.

ECO mode feels similar to using a learning key, which has become less common. To activate ECO mode, use the mode button or a dedicated ECO button on your watercraft, if available.

Slow Speed (No Wake)

Slow speed mode is intended for around no-wake areas, it’s very similar to Yamaha’s No Wake Mode.

Slow speed allows you to set your speed from 1 to 9 mph on newer models, or 1 to 5 mph on older models. In slow speed mode, you don’t have to hold the throttle, which makes it perfect for long no-wake zones.

Not Autopilot

Slow speed mode is NOT an autopilot, you still need to steer and control the watercraft.


Slow speed can be used as a trolling mode, as it’s basically the same thing.

To turn on slow speed mode on newer models, you let off the throttle and go at idle. Press the speed control button on the left handlebar. You will go into slow speed mode, setting 5 (~5mph) is default. Use up and down arrows to speed up or slow down.

Older machines with iBR required you to be in neutral and then hold down the cruise control button located on the right side of the handlebars. Then you would start moving and can adjust the speed up and down with arrows buttons.

Speed Limiter (Cruise Control)

Speed limiter mode is very similar to the cruise control you find in your car, but not 100% the same. They used to call it cruise control, but people misunderstood and thought it was like their car, so now use the more accurate wording “speed limiter”.

Speed limiter allows you to set the speed you want to stay at, but you must keep the throttle pulled in at all times.

Car Cruise Control, NOT The Same

In a car, you would set the speed and then take your foot off the gas for cruise control. You set the speed and when in the speed limiter you must fully pull in the trigger to maintain that speed. When kept in speed limiter mode, your watercraft will only go that max speed you set.

The reason you need to hold the trigger all the way in is if you fall off, the jet ski won’t run away.

The speed limiter mode is great for pulling tubes, as it won’t go over the speed you set. Combined with touring mode, you have a nice and easy take-off. If you do a lot of pulling, they make the WAKE models that have ski-mode.

Hitting the brakes will turn off the speed limiter mode.

To turn on speed limiter mode, go the speed you want to stay around, then press the speed control button on the left pad.

Sea-Doo Owner's manual stock image speed control button location

Older PWCs with iBR and don’t have the keypad above, you could do the same, but you press the cruise control button on the right side. It was much harder, but one trick was to put the jet ski in forward then hold down the cruise control button, pick your speed, and then take off as it would stay around the speed you set.

SKI Mode

SKI mode is only found by default on the WAKE and WAKE Pro models from Sea-Doo. You could add the SKI mode to other models that had iBR and iTC systems. Ski mode is a more advanced version of speed limiter mode.

SKI mode allows you to pick a ramp setting, the take-off power, and the top speed, which makes it perfect for pull sports.

With SKI mode, you have 5 ramp settings, setting 1 is the slowest and easiest take off and 5 is the most aggressive take-off. You also need to set your target speed, the max speed the watercraft will go.

With SKI mode, you get constant and predictable pulls, which is ideal for wakeboarders and tubes.

Learning Key

Sea-Doo RF green learning key

The learning key has been around since 1996 when Sea-Doo first got DESS (digital keys) that were programmed to your PWC. It was a perfect for new riders as jet skis kept getting faster.

The early versions of the learning key limited the top speed to 35 mph. When iBR came around, you could have the learning key programmed, using the normal key, to 5 unique speeds as shown in the video below.

The learning key has become less common as other driving modes are easier for owners to understand and use. The great thing about the learning key is that it could not be overwritten or changed, so the rider could only go the speed the normal key set.

Where To Get One

If you want a learning key, you need to visit the dealership and have them program it to your machine. The dealership will need the whole jet ski with a good battery to program the key.

If you have a learning key, you can ask the dealership to make it a normal key instead. Both keys are the same, just unique colors, and the dealership only presses some buttons to assign it. You could even make your normal keys into learning keys or even rental keys, but the unit will need to be at the dealership to do so.

Today, new models don’t come with a learning key anymore, but many models can have them added. To be honest, most owners would lose the learning key, so them not having them is not a huge loss.

Rental Key

The rental key, mainly used by rental jet ski companies, limits top speed to around 45 mph, similar to a learning key.

This restriction is for insurance and safety reasons.

When renting jet skis, they’re often power-limited, sometimes with plates in the pump to cap speed. Keep this in mind if you’re used to rental jet skis and consider buying or riding a non-rental one.

Rental keys are custom orders and come in unique colors.

Just like the learning key, the rental key could be programmed to set speeds, from 32 to 46 mph on models with iBR or iTC.

Normal Key

Every Sea-Doo comes with the normal key, it’s the yellow key, but it did have a few LTD models that were black.

The normal key is your standard key, the one with full power and full control over the jet ski.

The color of the key does not matter, they are all the same, some just use a ROM chip or an RFID chip. Each key has a unique number that gets assigned to the jet ski and told what type of key it is so when you put it on the Sea-Doo it knows what to do.

All keys work as the safety lanyard, one end connects to the watercraft, the other attaches to you. So if you fall off, the engine shuts off. If the key is not attached, there is no guarantee the jet ski will spin in a circle, so make sure to connect the lanyard correctly.

Launch Mode

Launch mode controls the trim to give you a quicker take-off and control.

The Launch mode is usually found more on high-performance models like the RXT-X and RXP-X. Launch mode is ideal for a drag race with someone else or a quick off the line start in a race.

See a launch mode review here:

Neutral Adjustment

The neutral adjustment mode is a well hidden feature in a lot of models with iBR (brakes).

Jet skis don’t have a transmission, so when the engine is on, the impeller is spinning. That means neutral is just a spot between forward and reverse, and overtime that spot can change or need to be adjusted.

How To

  • On older machines with iBR, you would put it in neutral and move the VTS or up and down arrow buttons to adjust the neutral position. The gauge will say you’re adjusting neutral.
  • On newer ones, hold down the VTS up or down buttons until the gauge says you’ve entered the mode.

Only adjust neutral in a safe area and go slow. Keep in mind, that wind and current can move the jet ski even when in neutral. You will never a have a perfect neutral on a jet ski when the engine is on.

Drown Mode

Drown mode, unknown to many jet ski owners, prevents the engine from starting when activated. It’s used for tasks like compression testing, oil change, or engine check.

To engage drown mode, hold the throttle fully and press the start button with the key on, causing the engine to turn over without starting.

Avoid prolonged use in this mode.


Dock mode is a super rare mode that mostly exists for Sea-Doo jet boats and Sea-doo’s that had suspension.

Dock mode would limit the throttle, so people would not accidentally hit it and damage the boat, dock or themselves.

The PWC’s with suspension would enter dock mode, automatically if you had a depth finder, it would lower the suspension down to lower your center of gravity while at the dock. They made suspension models from 2009 to 2016, and automatic ones from 2009 to 2015. They were cool but too top-heavy, so they stopped making them.

Jet Boats

Dock mode was more helpful for the jet boats, as it kept drivers from getting too crazy with the throttle while at the dock. Driving a jet boat is a bit odd from other boats, and quick steering and throttle movements are a must. On a jet boat, you do the opposite, slow and steady is what you want.

They now have the Switch and dock mode is not needed as it’s already slow and predictable around the docks.


I have a video showing a lot of the driving modes that still hold true to models today:



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

Leave a Comment