Jumping waves with a personal watercraft is fun and exciting, but it can also be dangerous! Today I’ll show you how to safely jump waves with a jet ski.
Jet ski waves – Jumping guide
You really need to be prepared properly. This is because it isn’t like jumping on a bicycle, motorbike or skateboard. The feeling is a lot different.
I’ll show you in this list some of the best tips I’ve come across when you’re jumping on a PWC and learning the skill of jumping waves in the open ocean or river mouth.
There is no rush to become a pro wave-jumping expert in 5 minutes. Let’s put the ego aside and go gently. Start with the smaller waves first.
Anything 2 to 3 feet is good. You don’t want to go too fast at all. Start at just above idle speed before progressing further.
I often advise people to use the learner key when starting out. This way the power response is a lot less, so you don’t go crazy right away.
Look at the weather forecast
The worst place to learn jet ski jumping is when the waves are beyond 4 feet. That’s just too much for a novice.
I like to avoid windy days when riding generally, and when it comes to wave jumping, the wind knocks down the waves. This can be good for beginners, but terrible to find a good wave to plow over.
Also, avoid the early morning and early evening. The shadows make you perceive waves to be bigger or smaller than what they actually are. Lunchtime is ideal.
Scout for a wave-jumping location
A good place to find an ideal place to start wave jumping is your local Facebook group. Fellow jet ski riders often post photos showing off their stunts on the weekend. You can ask them where they are riding.
I also like to scout around my local area. If I see a big congregation of fellow jet skis in the open ocean, it’s almost guaranteed that they are there to do jet ski wave jumping.
Another tip is to ask at the local boat ramp. You’ll generally find other riders launching their personal watercraft at the same time, so you can ask them where the best locations are.
How to jump waves
Right – so you’re ready. You’ve found the best day, the weather is good and you’ve found a spot.
Now, how do you jump that wave on a jet ski? Here is what I would do:
- Go with idle power on the approach to the oncoming wave
- As you’re nearing the front of the wave, immediately add more throttle
- Lean back on your jet ski but with bent elbows and knees
- Hold that power through the jumping action (while you’re airborne)
- Brace yourself as you’re about to drop back into the water, tail first
When it comes to bracing your body when landing a jet ski jump, there are a few things to be mindful of. These include having your knees and elbows bent, looking up and forward, and keeping your head far back from the steering bar so you don’t knock it upon landing.
Tips for safety
While you are learning, remember that it’s a bit more dangerous to go jumping on a jet ski. The weight of the machine and the volality of surf waves makes for an interesting combination.
To stay safe on the waves, I would advise everyone to:
- Always wear a quality personal flotation device (PFD)
- Avoid jumping alone in case you have an accident
- Use great form, including bent elbows and knees
- Wear a jet ski helmet (There are several mentioned here)
- Choose a location that isn’t frequented by swimmers or surfers
- Practice on the smaller (baby) waves before going for monsters
- Wear fluorescent clothing so that others can see you jumping
- Use the learner key so you don’t give too much throttle
- Always brace yourself for the landing, as that’s where injuries happen
- Wear MX knee and elbow pads if you have a fear of injury
- Remember the water depth – don’t go jumping too close to shore!
- Make sure your jet ski lanyard is reliable and working at all times
The reason I mention these is that you’re taking a 1,000-pound machine on to unpredictable waves. It’s much different than a stationary dirt jump and 20 pound BMX bike on a calm day.
I often hear of jet ski accidents in my local area, most of which are due to people who go wave jumping beyond their limits. Some people have even died as a result. It’s a dangerous sport so you need all the protective gear you can get.
It goes without saying that you should start slow and build your confidence going forward. Never go beyond your known capabilities. Showing off is just not worth it!
Getting started with waves
I find that YouTube is a great place to learn jet ski jumping. It’s where I’ve learned a lot of the skills from people who have done it before me.
I often find my body is very sore on the day after a good jumping session. Getting a massage is a great idea, and so is consuming some form of healthy fats such as fish oil. Most importantly – drink lots of water when you’re jumping.
Stay safe but also have fun! This is one of the best ways to enjoy the sport of jet ski riding.