Iíve mentioned that this is likely the last year to buy a production stand-up, like the Kawasaki Jet Ski 800 SX-R or Yamaha SuperJet. Thatís sad news, but it doesnít mean the end of the craft as we know it. Plenty of used models will still be on the market, and many of them will likely be going for some pretty attractive deals.
Think itís time you found out what youíve been missing? Hereís a primer on how to ride a stand-up PWCÖin just a few easy steps.
Like Learning to Ride aÖ
Iíve heard the process of learning to ride a stand-up compared to learning how to ride a bike as a child, and in many ways thatís true. Itís all about balance, after all, but itís also all about power. Go slow on a bike and youíll wobble. Speed up and youíll find more control and stability. A stand-up PWC shares that same trait. So first suggestion, donít be afraid of the power. Used wisely, and within reason, it can actually stabilize the craft as well as help pull you through turns.
Iíve also heard learning to ride a stand-up compared to slalom water skiing, even skateboarding. Why? Both require you to put one foot forward. A staggered stance provides more stability, and will improve your turning ability in the long run. To find your stance, look to similar sports you already do for a hint. Or try this: stand with your feet together, and have a friend give you a push from behind. Typically youíll favor one foot to move forward and catch yourself.
That stance doesnít have to remain the same. While some riders stick with one foot forward at all times, others prefer to switch which foot is forward depending on the direction of the turn, i.e. left foot forward for left turns and right foot forward for right turns.
On Your Knees
Ready to ride? Start in chest-deep water, lying on your stomach in the tray area of the craft. Your feet will be extended behind you, off the craft, while your elbows should be resting on the craftís gunwales. Start the boat and begin to slowly accelerate, until the point the boat feels stable. Avoid staying in this position too long, or at too fast a speed. Itís not comfortable, and the craft will often start to porpoise.
Once you feel stable, keep a steady pressure on the throttle and bring one leg at a time forward, so that youíre kneeling in the tray. Donít let off the throttle; as you raise your center of gravity, youíll likely feel wobblier atop the craft. A steady speed is your friend. If you start to porpoise uncomfortably, move forward to shift more weight toward the bow.
Time to get off your knees. Youíve already decided which foot to place forward. Bring that foot up and plant it firmly forward in the tray, transferring your weight to that leg and raising yourself into a standing position, lifting the handlepole as you rise. Your trailing foot should come in behind, but stay to the opposite side of the tray, and more toward the back of the craft. Stay centered; tilting one direction or the other at this point will quickly put you back in the water.
Hopefully, youíre up. Stay that way by remaining in a slight crouch, knees bent to absorb shock and lower your center of gravity, arms relaxed holding the handlepole.
Take some time to get used to the feeling and your balance before attempting any turns. When you feel comfortable, turn in one direction by using a combination of handlebar input and body english. Donít lean too far at this point, as youíll likely fall. Just start with gentle turns in both directions. As you become more confident, increase your speed as well as the amount you lean to sharpen the turning radius.
And thatís all there is to it. Sure, thereís a learning curve, but thatís what makes it fun. And once youíve mastered the basics, nothing else quite compares.