When many of us are looking to hit the open water for a little fun and relaxation, we choose to do so while riding a Jet Ski. However, they weren’t always the water vehicles we use today. They actually went through a couple transformations to become what we now refer to as a Jet Ski.


It all started in Europe in the mid-1950s when motorcycle makers there were looking to create a new vehicle. What they produced became water scooters which, sadly, were ultimately a failure. It wasn’t until the 1960s that we saw real breakthroughs in the design and success of these personal watercraft.

Australian motocross enthusiast Clayton Jacobsen II designed his own version of the Jet Ski that would require the pilots to stand up while operating it, according to About.com. Included in this design was the huge breakthrough of switching from using outboard motors to an internal pump-jet. After a failed attempt to sell his idea to snowmobile manufacturer Bombardier in 1965, Jacobsen turned next to Kawasaki in 1973 and successfully sold his vehicle, which Kawasaki renamed the Jet Ski.

While most jet skis allow you to sit down today, and some even have room for multiple passengers, this was not the case with the original models. You had to stand up to ride the first jet skis until advances in the 1980s changed the way they were designed. The ability to sit down on a jet ski is one of the factors that contributed to their popularity. Sitting down on a jet ski offers the rider more control and stability, and can offer an overall safer experience.

There are also advantages to sitting while operating your PWC. You will be able to easily lean from right to left as you turn your jet ski in that direction, giving you better control over the entire craft. If you are riding with someone else, you must compensate for the extra weight while turning. You and your partner should lean in tandem while turning the jet ski, and both passengers should remain seated throughout the entire ride.

There was a time when we had no such watercraft. The original concept of a PWC can be traced back to a man by the name of Clayton Jacobsen. His simple craft was designed to let people ski across water without the need to use a larger boat. The Jet Ski didn’t come into the spotlight until Kawasaki decided to mass produce them, giving it the name we know today. At the time the company was known for its motorcycles, and they hoped to strike the same success for thrill seekers on the water.

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