Jet skiing is one of the most popular watersports, enjoyed equally by adrenaline-chasing professionals and families on waterside vacations.
This watersport innovation has become more popular than traditional watersports such as sailing or rowing.
The freeing feeling of racing along the top of the water at high speeds is enough to get jet skiers spending thousands of dollars on their hobby and craving more as soon as they’re away from the water.
Who Invented The Jet Ski?
The jet ski was invented by Clayton Jacobsen II, who introduced his latest creation to the world in 1973.
Although there may be some confusion around who was the original inventor of the jet ski that would later get settled in court, Jacobsen was the first one to create a jet ski.
Clayton Jacobsen II wasn’t a likely inventor of this unique watercraft, stemming from the fact that Jacobsen had spent the 1960s focusing on his banking career.
Despite spending his days working in finances, Jacobsen’s nights while living in Malibu were filled with beach parties and nighttime swimming.
When he wasn’t working or out enjoying Malibu social life, Jacobsen had loved building and racing dirt bikes since he was a young man.
Although Jacobsen loved the thrill that came while racing dirt bikes, he hated when he would crash and end up biting the dust.
Jacobsen wanted to maintain the same feeling of riding a dirt bike, but he wanted riders to have a safer place to fall and thought that falling into water sounded much less painful than crashing into the dirt.
After more consideration, he realized that he simply wanted to create a motorcycle on the water.
Using what he knew from building dirt bikes, Jacobsen began building the first jet ski in his Los Angeles studio.
The first engine he used for the craft was a Yamaha motorcycle engine which took Jacobsen days of tinkering before it would even work, but it still went on to become the first stand-up prototype that Jacobsen made.
By 1968, Jacobsen had built his second prototype and sent in the plans for the patent.
He was granted the patent for his sit-down watercraft only a year later.
In 1973, Clayton Jacobsen II created the stand-up jet ski as we know it today.
The Inventor Takes Kawasaki To Court
In early July of 1991, Clayton Jacobsen II took Kawasaki to court, claiming that the company had slandered him with its claims of having invented the jet ski.
The problem persists to this day, as many people continue to credit Kawasaki for the invention.
Jacobsen’s legal battle against the major personal vehicle producer had started with a lawsuit that he first filed in 1971.
Although their partnership had started legally, things between the business partners quickly turned sour.
Jacobsen had granted Kawasaki the license to manufacture and sell his jet ski design, but problems quickly started with Kawasaki making changes to the jet ski design that Jacobsen didn’t approve of and quickly resulted in Kawasaki taking credit for the entire creation of the jet ski.
The inventor would later claim in court that Kawasaki had falsely obtained Japanese patents on the jet ski and the many innovations that he had made along the way during its original production.
Jacobsen had requested that the Japanese patents of his products be assigned to him and he was able to receive the Japanese patents in 1976.
He also claimed that the Japanese company had breached their original contract and he sought claims of fraud due to their actions while working with him.
Between all the trouble that Kawasaki Motors Corporation caused Jacobsen, he originally wanted around $50 million from his former business partner.
The Federal District Court of Los Angeles awarded Clayton Jacobsen II with $21.5 million, siding against Kawasaki on the charges of libel and slander.
When representatives of Kawasaki Motors Corporations were asked how they felt about the verdict, they felt disappointed by the ruling of the jury and felt that further courts would agree with the company when they theoretically appealed.
What’s The Difference Between A Jet Ski And A Personal Watercraft?
Although the term “jet ski” is commonly used to describe any type of personal watercraft, jet skis and personal watercraft aren’t always the same thing.
There are many types of personal watercraft, with one of those types being the jet ski.
A jet ski is one of many personal watercraft options for consumers.
Most types of personal watercraft are simply known by their brand names, such as Kawasaki’s jet ski, wave-runners by Yamaha, and Sea-Doo’s version of personal watercraft.
In order for something to be considered a personal watercraft, it must use an inboard motor for propulsion through some form of a water jet pump.
Most personal watercraft are categorized not only by brand but by the way they are ridden as well.
There are options for riders who want to sit, stand, or kneel.
Some of the first personal watercraft were made for the rider to be standing because it allowed each unit to be smaller and lighter.
Their smaller size also made the craft easier to transport and store when it isn’t in use.
Personal watercraft meant for sitting or kneeling tend to be on the larger side, which means that they typically fit more than one rider.
However, it becomes more difficult to transport, store, and fuel these watercraft.
Different types of personal watercraft have different activities that they excel at, including racing, recreational, and fishing, and some are even used by law enforcement from around the world.
Due to the large range of jobs and models, there’s no one type of personal watercraft that is superior to another.
Another way to categorize different types of personal watercraft is by the environments they’re meant to travel in.
Despite there being both freshwater and saltwater personal watercraft, the salt in ocean water can still get a personal watercraft over a certain period.
When Were Personal Watercrafts Invented?
The first personal watercraft were created in the early 1950s as motorcycle companies were looking to expand their products to the water.
At the time, it seemed like every manufacturer and home mechanic had a personal watercraft.
However, it was the innovations made by Clayton Jacobsen II that allowed personal watercraft to become what they are today.
What Jacobsen did differently from all the major motorcycle manufacturers that they didn’t even think of was switching out a traditional motor with an internal pump jet.
Of all the early personal watercraft options available, Kawasaki and Jacobsen’s jet skis seemed to catch on the most and quickly became the generic name for all types of personal watercraft.
Kawasaki’s marketing pitch for their hit product was “water skiing without a boat.”
While the 1960s brought plenty of innovation to the personal watercraft space, the 1970s served as a time for the public to get used to the new water sport vehicle and allowed them to become incredibly popular among the wealthy.
By the 1980s, owning a personal watercraft was a part of the middle-class family dream and they were becoming increasingly popular among the public.
The next big innovation boom would hit the personal watercraft market during the 1980s when the competition was heavily influencing the need for innovation.
With more consumers in the personal watercraft market, Bombardier attempted to enter the market and found that their vehicles couldn’t compare to Yamaha or Kawasaki’s products.
After releasing their line of snowmobiles called Ski-Doo, they decided to try the personal watercraft market one more time with their newfound knowledge and released the Sea-Doo.
Now that a new major competitor had entered the market, each brand focused on building its unique brand identity and brand loyalty among its consumers.
What Are The Fastest Jet Skis?
The fastest jet skis that are available to the public consumers include the Sea-Doo RXP-X, the Yamaha GP1800R SVHO, and the Kawasaki 310 R.
With a high-speed representative from one of each of the big three personal watercraft companies, there’s a high-speed option for consumers of each of the brands as long as they’re willing to pay the higher price for the higher amount of horsepower.
Although personal watercraft regulations in the United States require that manufacturers limit their watercraft to a top speed of 67 miles per hour, each of these options is able to reach higher speeds by creating the ideal conditions.
These manufacturers can skirt this restriction because the speed limit only applies to tests with extremely specific weight conditions and fuel amounts.
In ideal conditions and due to slight variances in engine tolerances, each of the fastest jet skis is able to reach top speeds of over 70 miles per hour.
Yamaha’s WaveRunner GP1800R SVHO has a top speed of 69 miles per hour on paper and has an 18-gallon fuel tank to support the 1812cc four-stroke engine.
It’s about 11 feet in length and weighs 771 pounds when it’s dry, with a price tag of $14,749.
The Sea-Doo RXP-X 300 is able to reach 70 miles per hour thanks to the Rotax 1630 ACE engine, allowing this jet ski to go 0 to 50 miles per hour in under three seconds.
It shares a similar-sized fuel tank as the Yamaha and is slightly smaller, despite weighing 780 pounds when out of the water.
Kawasaki’s fastest jet ski is the Ultra 310 R, reaching up to 69 miles per hour on its 20-gallon fuel tank and 1498cc, 4-stroke, 4-cylinder DOHC engine.
It’s the most expensive option, at $18,200.
What Are The Best Jet Skis For Beginners?
The best types of jet skis for those beginners are the ones that are cheapest and the easiest to maintain.
For your first jet ski, you don’t need to worry about things such as top speed or fuel capacity because it is much more important to be a competent jet skier before looking into specific types of jet skis.
One of the most common recommendations for first-time jet ski owners is the Sea-Doo Spark thanks to its simplicity and affordability.
The Sea-Doo Spark costs $5,299 brand new and comes in a large variety of colors and graphics.
The unique feature of Sea-Doo Spark that makes it especially easy to learn on is the off-throttle assisted steering, making it much easier to maneuver and make tight turns when necessary.
The downside of the Sea-Doo Spark is its standard fuel capacity of 0.42 gallons, but that can be upgraded to a 7.9-gallon tank for a higher price.
Those who are looking for the easiest jet ski to maintain will want to turn their attention to the Yamaha EX line of models, which consists of three different models.
Yamaha, as a brand, has positioned itself as the most reliable jet ski brand.
The Yamaha EX models have a starting price of $6,599 with their 100hp TR-1 engine and 13.2-gallon fuel tank.
Some of the models even have a reversing and braking system, which serves as an excellent safety feature for both the watercraft and the potential riders.
Those who are looking for an introductory jet ski with a little more speed will want to invest in the Kawasaki STX-15F.
This jet ski is the most expensive at $9,699, but the higher price tag also gets the consumer a top speed of 62 miles per hour.
The World Of Professional Jet Ski Racing
The International Jet Sports Boating Association acknowledges four different types of professional jet-skiing events, including hydro drags, freestyle and freeride, endurance and offshore, and closed course.
The closed course professional races were started by the United States Jet Ski Association in the early 1970s, where racers would maneuver around buoys in a similar format to motocross on land.
By 1982, the organization had expanded into international waters and the organization changed its name to the International Jet Sports Boating Association.
The first World Championship was held that same year and hosted in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
To this day, closed-course racing is the most popular type of jet ski professional sport.
Endurance races consist of longer distances or occur for a long period, which is meant to test the limit of both the rider and the vehicle.
Some races consist of a single racer, while others may consist of an entire team enduring grueling conditions.
Offshore racing takes place in the ocean and requires that racers have a strong sense of navigational skills.
It’s important for offshore and endurance racers to not only be the fastest racer but manage their fuel most efficiently as well.
Freestyle and freeride are often considered to be the most extreme and dangerous of all professional jet ski sports.
In both riding styles, each rider performs their own routine on their own or with a single competitor.
This is where jet skiers will show off their wildest aerial tricks and short-time maneuvers, competing for points rather than placements or times.
Most of the jet skis used in this sport are specially tailored for going airborne.
Hydrodrags are jet ski drag races that test a vehicle’s horsepower and acceleration, while also showcasing a racer’s reaction time.
How Jet Skiing Is Good For Your Health
Jet skiing isn’t just a fun time for families and thrill-seekers, it has also been proven to be an excellent form of exercise.
Although stand-up jet skis work out the most muscles, even sitting jet skis take a certain level of muscular and cardiovascular strength to ride effectively.
With only 30 minutes of riding a jet ski every day, you can improve the endurance of your cardiovascular system.
In order for your body to maintain proper form, your muscles need the oxygen being pumped from your heart at a higher rate than when you’re simply standing or going for a walk.
The two areas of muscle that get worked out the hardest while jet skiing are the arms and legs.
Your legs are focused on balancing on the jet ski and tightening your legs around the vehicle for more stability while your arms get a workout from steering.
Because you’re constantly on uneven waves like on a jet ski, spending more time on a jet ski can actually improve your overall balance.
When balancing yourself, you are also using all the muscles found on the sides of your spine and going as far down as some of the muscles found in the pelvic region.
Your abdominal muscles are also getting quite the workout, especially if you have the tendency to lean forward or keep your body slightly above your seat.
Since you’re using such a large range of muscles while on a jet ski, your body is also burning calories like mad.
From muscle use alone, the average person burns about 238 calories per half-hour ride.
At that rate, the average person would be able to lose about one pound per week if they were to ride a jet ski for an hour per day.
Changing The World Of Watersports
When Clayton Jacobsen II first created the jet ski, he had already devoted his entire life to his famous creation.
Despite being in his late 80s, you can still spot Jacobsen at jet skiing events around the world.
Jacobsen had to fight for the right to be recognized as the inventor for decades, despite giving up everything that he knew to pursue his invention during the late 1960s.
At least that dedication has finally paid off for Jacobsen, as people relearn the truth of jet skis.