Personal Watercraft

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'Personal Watercraft History

For a complete review history compiled by Shawn Alladio please visit this link:

http://k38watersafety.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3335 Personal Watercraft Hull Types

There are 4 PWC Hull types or styles. They are divided into categories of size hull, weight loads, and seating capacity. The weight load capacities are not to exceed total weight of passengers, and equipment, including 'wet' gear.

For instance:


A 2013 Kawasaki Ultra LX model Jetski has a total weight load capacity of 496 lbs. or up to three persons on board (including cargo).

A 2013 Yamaha SHO model Waverunner has a total weight load capacity of 530 lbs. or up to three persons on board (including cargo).


When we as occupational educators are teaching others about the use, features and functions of personal water craft or RWC use we must use the following instructional guideline: Refer to the Make-Model-Year of Production of the personal watercraft for reference materials. All Rescue Water Craft are not the same.

1. Stand Up

One person who stands, or kneels in a tray with a handlepole that pivots upward and downward. Some of the older stand up models do not have 'lanyard cut off switch' type of devices. Instead when an operator is separated from the vessel, the PWC or as some people refer to it (slang) as 'ski' will circle at an idle speed either to the right or left. Oftentimes the vessel will shut down or the operator will need to swim to the watercraft. On occasion the handlebars may be in a straight position and the PWC may continue onward instead of in a circle pattern.


Common names for Stand Up:

Superjet (Yamaha), Jetski (Kawasaki), Hydrospace (Austrian brand four stroke stand up).. There are also hybrid or custom designed hulls for freeride (surf riders) that are not related to major OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) brands. Older brands that are not longer produced but may be in use are Thunderjet models.


2. Sport

1-2 persons on board. These type of watercraft are no longer sold in the United States, but they are sold elsewhere in the world. Mainly due to the lack of physical conditioning of the operators whom were not able to re-board these small power craft.


Common names for Sport: Yamaha Waveblaster, Bombardier-Sea Doo HX, Kawasaki X-2


3. Runabout or Sit Down

A three person runabout or sit down type of Personal Watercraft.

Common names for runabouts: Kawasaki Ultra LX, Yamaha Waverunner HO, Bombardier Sea Doo GTi


4. Sport Utility Vessel (SUV)

The Sport Utility Vessels are no longer being produced. They failed to reign in the higher performance oriented customer. However, with the advent of fishing being one of the number one sales use for personal watercraft we may see a resurgence in these units. They are wider, longer and have more storage capacity. Manufacturer's were Yamaha, Sea Doo, and Polaris. (Polaris a US company ceased production in 2004)

Rescue Water Craft - RWC

Personal Watercraft is the recreational terminology used for PWC's when addressing the name of the vessel. For the purposes of occupational use in some circles the vessel description has been changed to 'Rescue Water Craft' or RWC to separate the name from an operational recreational mindset to professional conduct.



In 1996, a USMC Force Recon Marine, Vincent McLeod was tasked to find a lifesaving solution. Vincent introduced Rescue Water Craft into the United States Military. He employed Shawn Alladio to provide a project outline and the program was tested, vetted and scrutinized for approval. The US Military special waterborne divisions have been using RWC's for 17 years as of 2013. The RWC platform has enabled instructors at the Naval Amphibious Base to better serve their training elements especially during surf passages at night to ensure the safety of their personnel. The USNavy, USArmy, USAF pararescuemen, USMC and SEALs Bud Phase Instructors use them as safety vessels utilizing rescue board towable devices attached to the stern deck of 3 seater capacity Rescue Water Craft using a 3 point attachment rigging system.


RWC night operation training for the USMC Recon Marines at Camp Pendleton, California. Photo Courtesy of David Pu'u