Some people have asked me the difference between the PWC and jet ski terminologies.
The term “Jet Ski” is actually derived from Kawasaki’s first PWC model. Everything was called personal watercraft in the early years of the industry.
Today the industry has really evolved from the days of unreliable marine vessels.
Often Sea-Doo and Yamaha will use the term PWC formally because they have to.
They (loosely) do refer to their own watercraft “jet skis” especially when you go into a dealership.
They can’t use this word in their marketing materials though as this could lead to a lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki has full ownership of the USPTO trademark.
Let’s be clear: this is the singular word “JETSKI” as opposed to the two words jet and ski.
Jet Ski Vessel
Unique characteristics of a jet ski include:
- Designed and manufactured by Kawasaki for 40 years
- Was designed in the early days for stand up jet skis only
- Today is used as the standard word globally to described PWCs
- Is the technical term given to PWCs from any manufacturer
- Has no trademark and the name cannot be trademarked
- Refers to stand-up and sit down machines globally
What is really a jet ski?
A jet ski is really a stand-up Kayawaki personal watercraft used for tricks and jumps.
A stand-up jet ski holds only one person because you will be standing up with it. Quite often they have much less stability than a sitdown jet ski.
One key difference is that a stand-up jet ski will have a very small fuel tank. The smaller footprint and capacity results in less storage space.
Fact: While you will have a preferred style of riding, either sitting down and cruising or standing, you are often still referring to it as a jet ski.
It will be known as a jet ski when hiring, touring or competitively racing.
It has become the norm to called jet skis as any marine vessel produced by Yamaha and Sea-Doo.
|Sit Down Jet Ski||Stand Up Jet Ski|
|Technical terminology||Personal watercraft||Jet Ski|
|What we call it||Jet Ski||Stand Up Ski|
|Riders||Up to 3||1|
|Allows for tow sports||Yes (if powerful enough)||No|
|Can do jumps||Yes||Yes|
|Manufacturers||Sea-Doo, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki||Kawasaki only|
Why call it that?
We have to ask: “why does the general public call it a jet ski?”
“Can it not just be known as a personal watercraft in the industry?” I’ll tell you why we don’t use the proper name.
It’s easy – people like short and simple words. I personally like that we call them jet skis today.
See: lots of syllables are used when using the word “personal watercraft” in conversations, whether that be online or offline.
Humans are naturally lazy and we would prefer to be out riding the waves and cruising the coastlines!
It is simply easier for people to just say “jet ski” and get on with discussions. It’s nice and short plus easy to remember.
As you go to a dealership to buy some accessories, the salesperson will likely use the term ‘jet ski’ in their communication. The word loosely describes all personal watercraft.
I have been doing some research to get more understanding in this field.
Through this, I can see Kawasaki as the rightful owner of the trademark with the US Trademarks and Patents Office. Everyone uses the word “jet ski” to describe any personal watercraft on the market.
The most popular manufacturers such as Yamaha, SeaDoo and Honda are being careful in their marketing materials. I have seen copyright infringement with other brands.
In years passed, this term referred to stand up jet skis only.
The industry did start 40+ years ago. The marine industry today is much more evolved. Many people forget just how much the world has changed.
A common mistake that beginners make is using the word “personal watercraft” with other riders.
Expect a blank look if you ask about someone’s personal watercraft at the boat ramp.
See – no one really uses that technical term in casual talk.
Not only that, but very few people are using the PWC term during active verbal or online conversations.
I have seen this as quite rare.
My experiences are that if you ask marine enthusiasts about their jet ski, they are much more likely to understand you. It really avoids the confusion!
That’s about as clear as it gets! I hope this is valuable to you! 🙂
Here at Jet Ski Advice, we do recognize that we don’t own the trademark “Jetski” which belongs to Kawasaki.
We are simply an online advice site for PWC enthusiasts. Our name is in the non-formal (plural) sense of the word as it is colloquially known worldwide.