How to Ride a Stand-Up Jet Ski
A stand-up Jet Ski can provide hours of fun every summer and a lifetime of joy when you master its basic and advanced riding techniques.
However, learning how to control these PWC vehicles can be tough if you don’t consider the simple steps below.
Step One: Mastering Safety Measures
Riding a Jet Ski can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience as long as you’re willing to master the essential safety steps.
For example, you should always have some safety flotation device, like a life vest, on or near you at all times while on a PWC.
Though you may be a strong swimmer, falling off your vehicle in the middle of a lack can be dangerous if you don’t have a life jacket.
The type of vest that you purchase will vary depending on your needs.
For example, heavier-set people should buy a larger vest that is suitable for their weight and which will keep them floating in difficult water.
Just as importantly, you need to find a life jacket that is comfortable and which won’t slip off of you while you’re in the water.
Try out vests to ensure you find the right one for your needs.
Beyond a life vest, you may also want to wear a helmet when you ride.
Though it may seem silly, a helmet is vital for beginning riders.
They will protect you if you fall off and hit a rock or a large tree stump under the water.
Try to find a helmet that is easy to adjust and which slides very directly over your head and which is very easy to adjust without using a lot of straps.
Even advanced riders should wear a helmet at all times on their Jet Ski.
Next, you need to make sure that your ride has some emergency cut off switch to ensure that your PWC turns off when you fall.
These devices are often included on most Jet Ski models but not always.
Inspect each vehicle before you ride to find where these devices are located and get a good idea of how it operates to ensure that you can use it effectively when you ride.
For example, some of these PWC models have a string that attaches to your clothes and which will automatically turn off the throttle when you fall off.
Others may have a button on the handle that you must press as you ride to keep the Jet Ski running.
The type that you use will vary depending on the model, so find an option that is appropriate to your riding skills.
Lastly, make sure that you sit down behind your Jet Ski’s controls and practice using them to ensure that you know where all the operative items are located.
This step is smart because it can help you become a better rider right away and ensures that you don’t run into any complications when you’ve mastered basic riding and are learning more advanced techniques.
Step Two: Mastering the Proper Starting Steps
Jet Ski riders have two different starting techniques for their PWC models – shallow water and deepwater starts.
Mastering both methods is essential if you plan on regularly riding one of these vehicles.
The first method to learn here is the shallow water start, as this is the most commonly utilized and typically the easiest to master when you’re just starting.
Take your Jet Ski out in waist-high water and connect the emergency shut off properly before you begin.
As previously mentioned, this step is essential for your riding safety. Now, put both of your hands on the handlebars and place your non-dominant knee on the Jet Ski.
While you could also put your dominant knee on the deck, using the non-dominant one keeps your stronger leg available to give you more control over your Jet Ski during the starting process.
Turn the ignition key on the Jet Ski and start moving the PWC forward in the water to get it started.
Use your dominant leg to push it and help it gain a little speed.
After a few moments, the Jet Ski will begin to plane on the surface of the water and float higher.
At this point, you need to pull your leg out of the water and put it in the proper position on the Jet Ski.
Once you feel comfortable, stand up and lean forward to enjoy your ride.
Deepwater starts are a little different and more of a challenge.
Mastering these methods are essential, though, as you may need to use them if you fall off your Jet Ski in deeper water.
The most common approach here involves pushing the Jet Ski tray into the water while the Jet Ski is running.
This step will start a little momentum and provide the rider with a more leisurely start.
You will have both knees on the deck at this point and can then adjust to a standing position.
Use this method if you’re pushing off of a boat or dock in deeper water.
The other deepwater method involves placing your forearms on the tray and gliding your body across the water as the Jet Ski gains speed.
This method then requires you to push up onto your knees and then up to your feet on the tray.
Mastering this option will take some practice because it requires high strength in your arms and legs but is necessary for emergencies.
Step Three: Mastering Your Turns
Once you’ve mastered the starting techniques for a stand-up Jet Ski, you need to learn the various turning techniques.
While not tricky, accurate and high-speed turns do require a lot of practice to master.
Start by getting an idea of the weight of your PWC while riding slowly.
As you ride, lean your body to the left and right to feel out how it moves under your weight.
Once you have a feel for it, start doing very shallow turns at a relatively slow speed.
The idea here is that you’ll work your way up to more demanding or high-speed turns over some time.
When turning, make sure that you lean with the Jet Ski to increase its momentum.
Lean as far as you feel comfortable and as far as makes sense for the inertia of your craft.
Lean too far, and you may tip over your Jet Ski.
Remember to accelerate as you turn to ensure that you get the best speed possible.
Failing to accelerate will often cause your Jet Ski to slow down and make it harder to control.
Just as importantly, you need to make sure that you don’t accelerate too fast.
The balance here is often quite tricky to master and requires some practice time on your PWC before you can consider yourself a master.
Ultimately, you should find a way to turn your PWC while accelerating and avoiding going too fast at the same time.
The best tip here is to adjust your speed as you turn until you master the full acceleration technique.
And as you feel comfortable turning at slower speeds, increase your velocity to enhance your control and your ability to keep your Jet Ski straight.
Just as importantly, you need to know how to react when you’re in a potential impact situation.
Typically, you want to turn your Jet Ski as sharply as you can away from the impact and bail off of the PWC by jumping far from it.
This step decreases impact severity and minimizes your potential injuries.
Jumping off also triggers your emergency shutoff switch, which should help to decrease the speed of the Jet Ski a little.
If you do jump off of the PWC, make sure that you are wearing a life vest and a helmet to minimize your injury risk.
You may also want to stay on the Jet Ski if you think that jumping would be more dangerous.
The decision here will be a split-second one, so be very careful when deciding.
Step Four: Learning to Avoid Various Mistakes
Mastering essential Jet Ski turning is an excellent first step but can become a problem if you make mistakes while you ride.
These mistakes are often quite subtle and may be easy to miss or ignore if you’re starting.
Though most shouldn’t be dangerous to new Jet Ski riders, others may put you at risk for severe bodily injury or even damage to your PWC ride.
First of all, many riders will use too much throttle when they are riding, which can be dangerous if you’re still mastering your turns.
Your PWC throttle is very sensitive and will react very heavily when you try to use it too actively.
The trick here is to ride your Jet Ski slowly in practice and to add a burst of extra throttle to your ride occasionally.
Doing so will give you an insight into how it reacts to your accelerator.
Conversely, you may find that your turns often die out too quickly and kill your acceleration.
That’s because you’re not using enough throttle.
The trick here is to remember that a Jet Ski needs to be in constant motion with steady acceleration to keep it moving on the water’s surface.
Add a little extra throttle as you turn, adjusting it as necessary to maintain a constant speed.
Next, foot placement is essential to master when you’re riding a Jet Ski.
Too many people mistakenly take a shallow stance or keep their feet parallel on the deck while they ride.
Instead of these mistakes, you need to keep most of your weight on your dominant foot and adjust its position, as required, for your Jet Ski.
Like many mistakes on PWC models, avoiding this problem requires practice on the water.
Lastly, a lot of first-time or inexperienced riders miscalculate how much they need to lean while turning their Jet Ski.
The trouble here is that each individual has unique physical strength and weight levels.
Each of these elements will affect how far you have to lean on your Jet Ski to assist its turning.
For example, heavier people with more strength may lean less than smaller and weaker individuals.
The only way to master this technique is through the three Ps: practice, practice, and practice.
A skilled Jet Ski rider has an almost intuitive understanding of how far to lean into each curve.
As a result, you need to keep riding and practicing your Jet Ski to become better at handling this aspect.
Doing so helps to make your ride not only more fun but safer at the same time.
Step Five: Expanding to Jet Ski Tricks
After you’ve become reasonably skilled at riding your Jet Ski and no longer make problematic handling mistakes, you can start expanding your rides to more advanced techniques.
For example, you can master taking out a passenger on the Jet Ski with you, which is more complicated than you might think.
You’ll have to consider the weight of that person and teach them to lean into turns, which will affect how you ride.
Other advanced techniques include leaping waves, which occurs if you hit a large wave with just the right speed.
Typically, you need to lean down on the handlebars just before you hit the wave, push down into the water, and then pull up as you leave.
Done correctly, this technique should help you take briefly to the air and can be a fun way to show off your skills.
You may also want to master doing 180- and 360-degree turns to help increase your riding skills.
These turns require you to learn the various throttling and weight-distribution methods mentioned above.
You’ll need to heavily lean into the turn and use as much of your strength as possible to keep it turning.
And you’ll also need to keep your throttle open to keep the ride smooth and even.
These simple techniques can help you master more difficult and challenging tricks, which often take years to master.
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