Jet Ski

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European Jet Ski Championship in Crikvenica
Waverunner in Japan
Racing scene at the German Championship 2007

Jet Ski is the brand name of personal watercraft (PWC) manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The name is sometimes mistakenly used by those unfamiliar with the personal watercraft industry to refer to any type of personal watercraft; however, the name is a valid trademark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and in many other countries.[1] Jet Ski (or JetSki, often shortened to "Ski"[2]) originally referred to PWCs with pivoting handlepoles manipulated by a standing rider; these are now known as "stand-up PWC's." Today the term "Jet Ski" is often used when referring to WaveRunners, but WaveRunner is actually the name of the Yamaha line of Samba".

Contents

History

The "Jet Ski" was preceded in 1929 by a one-man standing unit called the "Skiboard" which was guided by the operator standing and shifting his weight while holding on to a rope on the front, similar to a powered surfboard.[5] While somewhat popular when it was first introduced in the late 1920s, the Great Depression sent it into oblivion.

Clayton Jacobson II is credited with inventing the personal water craft, including both the sit-down and stand-up models.

The two original models included the 1973 WSAA Jet Ski 400, and the WSAB Jet Ski 400. The WSAA featured a flat bottom design that stayed with the JS hull until 1994. The WSAB featured a V-hull which carves turns better, but is much less stable and harder to ride. Therefore only 500 of these WSAB Jet Skis were produced. Also, 1973-1974 models were made of hand-laid fiberglass. In 1975, Kawasaki began mass production of the JS400-A. The mass production JS was made of an SMC hull. JS400s came with 400 cc two-stroke engines and hulls based upon the previous limited release models. It became the harbinger of the success Jet Skis would see in the PWC market through the 1990s. In 1978, the Jet Ski 440 was introduced. It came with a new jet pump, handlebar mounted ignition controls, and a 440cc 2 stroke engine. The 440 engine was almost the same as the old 400, but had a bigger cylinder bore.

In 1982, the Jet Ski 550 became available for purchase. Not only did this new 550 have an engine that generated more power than a 440, but the engine was identical to the 440, had a bigger cylinder bore, and had a new exhaust pipe for added power. The 550 also has a unique "mixed flow" pump which provides better low end thrust to get out of the hole quicker. The 1982 JS 550 was available in yellow paint with red decals. The 1983-1985 550s have red hulls with a left front exhaust exit. The 550s from 1986-1989 are red with a lower right front exhaust exit. The 1990-1994 JS 550sx models are white and have a rear exit exhaust. This line of JS watercrafts maintained very similar designs throughout their production from 1973–1994, and it is still the only watercraft to have remained in production for so long.

In 1986, Kawasaki broadened the world of Jet Skis by introducing a one person model with lean-in "sport" style handling and a 650 cc engine, dubbed the X-2. Then in 1989, they introduced their first two passenger "sit-down" model, the Tandem Sport/Dual-Jetters (TS/DJ) with a step-through seating area. Kawasaki began using four-stroke engines in 2003. Combining this with the use of other technologies such as superchargers has allowed some engines to be able to produce up to 260 horsepower (190 kW), as seen in the newly released Kawasaki Ultra 260X and Sea-Doo RXP, RXT and RXP-X.

Yamaha entered the PWC market in 1987. Bombardier entered the market in 1988. Arctic and Polaris entered the market in the early 1990s. As the riding of personal watercraft evolved through the 1990s, other companies such as Yamaha, Bombardier and Polaris, elevated the use of personal watercraft to worldwide sport in both racing and freestyle.

Freestyle

Freestyle riding of personal watercraft is done mostly on a stand up PWC, with the exception of a few other PWCs including the Yamaha Waveblaster, Sea-Doo's and X-2's in the early days. Modern freestyle utilizes primarily the Yamaha Superjet, as it is lighter and smaller than the Kawasaki SX-R. Jet Ski freestyle consists of many different tricks, including big air, hood tricks and technical tricks which, {almost like BMX and Motocross} are judged on the quality and skill shown in routines by a panel of judges.

Professional Freestyle competition started in the late 1970s with the formation of the USJSBA, (later changed to the IJSBA). In the early 1980s, 2-time dock-jumping World Freestyle Champion, Larry "The Ripper" Rippenkroeger {the sports initial "King"} and 1983 World Freestyle Champion, "Flyin" Brian Bendix, became industry recognized names. There were other innovators near the beginning like fire-works shooting Cosmic Miller and teenage phenom Pat Helfrick. At this phase, freestyle competition was dominated by 5-time consecutive World Freestyle Champion, David "The Flash" Gordon, who had a style characterized not by spectacular tricks, but by finesse, poise, and control. There were ramp Jump competitions at Cypress Gardens about this time as well, though not considered part of "freestyle". After Gordon came the stylish Scott "Hollywood" Watkins who made quite an impact when he released the first "Freestyle Lifestyle" video upon the world, JET DREAMS. The 1990s ushered in a new era of freestyle innovation. New factory hull designs from manufacturers other than Kawasaki using wider & longer hull configurations, customized hull/tray modifications, and more powerful engines, were contributing factors that influenced a shift from "finesse" or "gymnastics" style maneuvers to aerial based stunts. Names like Scott "Hollywood" Watkins and X-2 rider Jeff Kantz helped pave the way to this new "style" of freestyle competition. Stunts like the aerial "back flip" ( first performed in competition by "Flyin" Brian Bendix) and the "barrel roll", which Jeff Kantz invented, and "Trick" Rick Roy perfected, became staples in freestyle competition events. The mid 1990s also saw a fundamental shift from multi-discipline competitors such as Brian Bendix, David Gordon, Cosmic Miller, Scott Watkins and Larry Rippenkroeger, who all competed in Freestyle as well as Slalom and Closed Course events, to single-discipline competitors like Marc Sickerling, Rick Roy, Alessander Lenzi and Eric Malone, who specialized in Freestyle exclusively. Eric Malone went on to become an 8-time freestyle champion, while perfecting the back flip and multiple barrel rolls on flat water, forever moving the sport to a new level of athleticism few could imagine in the early multi-discipline era. Freestyle has become more international, and a host of un-believably talented Japanese seem to always step-up the aerial fanatacism that has become the norm in the modern era. It is truly a story of progression and creativity both in the watercraft as well as the riders themselves.

Freeride

This is the most extreme form of PWC riding, where the rider surfs waves like a surfer would and uses the waves as a jump ramp for aerial maneuvers. Pioneered in the early days by Dan Baker and Scott "Hollywood" Watkins, the re-entry would become the move that defines freeriding. The re-entry is how a rider jumps off a breaking wave and lands back on the wave, continuing to ride the wave.

Watkins, who worked for Yamaha Motors, was the most influential freerider, and his style is often cited as the most pure expression of the sport. Simply put, he rode it the way it was supposed to be ridden. Later riders such as Pierre Maixent, Federico Bufacchi, Jimmy and James Visser, Florence Le Vot, Ivo Sehn, Randy Laine, Rick Roy, Clay Cullen, Joe Kenney, and Mark Tearle further innovated freeriding as more riders began emulating the moves done by surfers and FMX riders.

Closed Course Racing

Closed Course racing is a form of PWC riding with up to 20 riders competing to finish first. The course is defined by red buoys (indicating left turns), yellow buoys (for right turns), a start line and a finish line. The start line is typically right at the shore with three poles and a rubber cord. Usually an event has two motos making up the day's event.

The IJSBA, (formerly the USJSBA), closed course racing began in the mid 1970s with Doug Silverstein, Steve Stricklin, Brian Bendix, Larry Rippenkroeger, who primarily rode modified 440cc and 550cc stand-up models. Doug Silverstein was the first competitor in the history of sanctioned professional Jet Ski competition to capture the USJSBA national points championship. Larry Rippenkroeger was the first competitor to capture the IJSBA national points championship twice, (1982 and 1984). "Flyin" Brian Bendix earned the national points championship in 1983. David Gordon was the first competitor to capture the IJSBA national points championship two years in a row. Then in 1987, Jeff Jacobs, (of El Cajon, CA), captured the national points championship and went on to dominate the professional ski stand-up class through 2001.

During 1980's, professional Jet Ski competition had a grass-roots following of race fans and enthusiasts throughout the United States. During these early days of Jet Ski racing, the national points tour was a fifteen (15), event tour that started on Memorial Day weekend and ran through Labor Day weekend, culminating with the popular five event Florida World Cup series, promoted by the Lauber brothers.

From 1992 to 1996 the sport reached its peak of popularity. Some of the most successful riders of that period included Jeff Jacobs, Chris Fischetti, Minoru Kanamori, Victor Sheldon, Tom Bonacci, Chris MacClugage, Bill Pointer, Frank Romero, Dustin Farthinga and Art Chambers. Many strong factory teams equipped their athletes with the biggest and baddest equipment available, and Budweiser sponsored the IJSBA Bud Jet Sports Tour with stops in ten US cities (Dallas, Chicago, Virginia Beach, etc.)

Today the APBA holds several events throughout the race season that allows riders to qualify for the IJSBA World Finals (held in Lake Havasu, AZ) which is considered to be the Super Bowl of PWC riding. Although the US athletes still dominate the sport, racers come from all over the world, including France, Japan, Kuwait, Thailand, Argentina and Brazil. The reigning world champion in 2009 was Craig Warner, sponsored by Kawasaki, Monster Energy, Bomber Eyewear and Hydro-Turf. However, New Zealand’s Sam Harvey claimed his first-ever IJSBA Pro World Championship, finishing 2-1 in the day’s motos aboard a Sea-Doo. Chris MacClugage of Macc Racing took the Championship in Pro Ski.

There are four classes: beginner, novice, expert and pro. Usually the racers are divided into two engine sizes: one at 800cc max and another up to 1200cc max. There are also women's classes.

Safety

The International Jet Sports Boating Association appointed Shawn Alladio of K38 Water Safety as Water Safety Director of the quakysense World Finals in Lake Havasu of Arizona in USA. She heads up training Course Marshals to conduct rescues and officiating during the event and National Tour (APBA) races using Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra LX models with rescue boards. Shawn also uses Kawasaki Jet Skis to train public safety agencies, military, Law enforcement, towsurfers and Lifesavers in the use of Water Rescue.

When riding with a passenger under the age of 14 the older person should wear the safety key at all times. The child is not capable of controlling such a large motorized vehicle on their own. By ensuring that the adult has the key around their own wrist they can be assured that their child will be safe no matter what.

Use in Popular Culture

Kawasaki has lent their Jet Ski name and designs to the video game Wave Race 64, developed and published by Nintendo.

The Rastafarian Pirates in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames use Jet Skis as cargo raiding vehicles, and the player can ride them, for some missions require use of the Jet Skis to complete.

In Google Maps, in the 'Get Directions' tab if a person writes Japan to China, the 41st Direction says 'Jet Ski across the Pacific Ocean.'

See also

References

External links

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