Personal Watercraft: From Water Scooter to Jet Ski

Almost everyone knows what a Jet Ski is, but have you ever heard of a water scooter? We didn’t think so! 

From Water Scooter To Jet Ski

The idea for the first personal watercraft, originally designed to be a one-person recreational vehicle, emerged in 1950s Europe under the term “water scooter.”

These leisure vehicles weren’t exactly popular in their early years, leaving their designers to toy with the idea for almost a decade before getting it right. It was Australian Clayton Jacobson II who designed the first standing version of the machine in the 1960s, but with a revolutionary twist: he traded the traditional outboard motor for a more efficient pump-jet. Thus, the personal watercraft we have come to know by the name Jet Ski came to life!

These small, self-powered vehicles went through a number of changes over the years, and was even the center of a  lawsuit over the rights to who created it. Kawasaki, the prolific Japanese vehicle producer, finally surfaced as the victor, releasing the first stand-up personal watercraft available on the market and claiming the rights to the term Jet Ski. Though Jacobsen was compensated for his idea in lieu of a lawsuit, the vehicle manufacturing tycoon continues to use the name today. The name Jet Ski is widely used to describe crafts of the same type, but the moniker remains trademarked specifically to its parent company. Other vehicle manufacturers eventually produced numerous similar vehicles under their own trademarks, but “Jet Ski” really stuck with consumers, much like Kleenex has laid claim to facial tissue.

Summer Staple

Some 20 million Americans use personal watercraft every year. Is it even summer if you’re not cruising the nearest body of water aboard one of these iconic leisure vehicles? Though sales of the personal watercraft have had their ups and downs, it’s clear that their influence in the recreational world of water sports is still prominent. 

There are tons of makes, models, and types of personal watercraft available on the market. A large number of those sold are multi-person vehicles that make them suitable for up to three people, without having to spend the big bucks on separate crafts. Among those available, some come with advanced technology that makes them (somehow) even more fun to own. One such craft is the Gibbs Quadski, so-named for its unique ability to convert from a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle into a personal watercraft of the same power! With the touch of a button, the wheels retract into the body, leaving you with a fully amphibious vehicle that goes 45 mph, on land or at sea. While it isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept, owning one of these versatile toys can open the door to new, exciting vacation possibilities.

Evolution and Improvements

The evolution of the modern personal watercraft transformed it from a standing, one-person craft into a multi-person, recreational vehicle. More power and streamlined bodywork made these crafts easier to control and even less dangerous than boats, and environmental consciousness brought them into the present where electric motors reign supreme. Consumers’ desires for a more environmentally friendly watercraft contributed to the production of more efficient jet-propelled vehicles. Additionally, due to its thorough evolution, the craft has significantly improved its emissions ratings over the years, leading it to be one of the more environmentally-friendly recreational watercraft available!

StrandCraft V8 Wet Rod

If you’re in the business of extreme luxury, the StrandCraft V8 Wet Rod is the model for you! This ultra-lavish, celebrity-quality personal watercraft is not only super powerful, but it’s all about living fast and loose. The V8 Wet Rod is capable of achieving speeds of up to 65 mph and has a powerful 300 horsepower engine that will bring out the racer in anyone. The whopping $49,000 bottom-dollar price tag might have you reeling, but the luxury craft’s speed and design make up for it in spades.