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Is it hard to ride a stand up jet ski? – We get this question all the time.

The answer is simply yes, which is why many beginners ultimately choose a sit down jet ski over a stand up!

If you are considering purchasing a stand up jet ski, you probably want to know how to ride a stand up jet ski and how to start it from deep water.

For your convenience, we at JetDrift compiled everything you need to know into this guide.

Is it Hard to Ride a Stand Up Jet Ski?

Yes, it is hard to ride a stand up jet ski! You will need many athletic skills as well as practice to ride it properly. Many say that riding a stand up jet ski as hard as riding a wakeboard or slalom waterski. This is because all of them require similar body positions, a good sense of balance, and certain skills to get it started, especially from deep water.

You will see that deep water starts with a stand up jet ski requires a lot of practice, especially if you are a bigger guy.

Moreover, beware that you will also fall a lot while you’re learning. This is why many beginners give up trying too early.

But if you are determined to learn how to ride a stand up jet ski, don’t hesitate to read more!

How Does a Stand Up Jet Ski Work?

How does a stand up jet ski work? As its name implies you have to ride this jet ski in a standing position instead of sitting. Otherwise, stand up jet skis work in a similar way as any other sit-down model, which means a water jet is used to propel the hull forward in the water.

However, beyond the lack of seats and a movable handlebar, there are some other key differences between the two designs.

Let’s take a closer look at these:

FactorStand UpSit Down
Available models744
Min price$8 699$5 499
Max price$16 799$18 000
Top Speed (mph)45-6240-67
Engine stroke2 or 44
Performance (HP)73 - 16060 - 310
SuperchargerNoYes / No
Rider Capacity12-3
Fuel capacity5-6 Gal8-21 Gal
Storage Capacity00,4-56 Gal
Net weight (lbs)273 - 503405 - 935
Curb weight (lbs)303 - 571458 - 1074
Length (")87-105130-147
BrakeNoYes / No
ReverseNoYes / No
SeatNoYes
HandlebarMoveableFix
SkillsPractice neededEasy start
Riding positionStandingSitting
PopulatityLowerHigher

How Do You Ride a Stand Up Jet Ski?

You ride a stand up jet ski in a standing or kneeling position. As you will see, the trickiest part is always the start, especially from deep water. Once you get your tray up you will need significant speed for stability and control. You also have to put one of your feet forward and lean into the turns.

In the next paragraphs, we will go through the basic steps on how to ride a stand up jet ski.

We can also recommend this informative video from Ashley Haude:

Stand Up Jet Ski Shallow Water Start

The trickiest part of riding a stand up jet ski for many beginners is the start.

The shallow water start is considered much easier than a deep water start, so it’s recommended that you start with this.

How to Start a Stand Up Jet Ski in Shallow Water

To start a stand up jet ski in shallow water, first try to locate a clean, thigh-high area of water where the bottom is not muddy. This is because mud can make your tray dirty and slippery.

Make sure your life jacket is on you and the safety lanyard is properly attached to the jet ski.

Place one of your knees in the tray, grab the handlebar with your hands and turn on the engine. Always start the jet ski with moderate acceleration and get it to plane slowly.

Having your other leg in the water helps you keep your balance, but make sure you keep it away from the water jet!

After the jet ski has gained momentum and gotten to plane, you can pull up your other leg into the tray. To make it easier you may want to lean forward towards the handlebar.

If both of your knees are already on the try don’t rush to stand up on your feet, especially if you are a beginner. The main advantage of this kneeling position is that it keeps your center of gravity low, which results is more stability.

Once you feel you are ready to move on, you should place your dominant foot in the front with the other foot at the rear of the tray. Try to stand up slowly while you leave your feet in the same position.

Also, make sure you moderate your speed during the start, as you can easily lose control if you try to ride at too high a speed!

Stand Up Jet Ski Deep Water Start

There are many times that you can find yourself in a situation when a shallow-water start is not an option.

Sometimes you just can’t find a good spot to start on the shore. Let’s face it, you will have to start your jet ski from deep water mainly after falls.

What makes deep-water starts with a stand up jet ski so difficult is that your whole body is in the water before the start, which means you have to pull yourself up onto the tray first!

Moreover, stand up jet skis are so small and unstable that you can’t stand on it if it’s just floating or moving at too slow a speed.

How to Start a Stand Up Jet Ski from Deep Water

You can start a stand up jet ski from deep water in two different ways. The most commonly used method, known as the knee start or “tray push,” is when you push the rear side of the tray down while you move your knee onto the tray. The other way is the belly start or “body drag,” which is when you place your upper body on the tray and start the jet ski to gain momentum before finally pulling your whole body up onto the tray.

Stand up jet ski deep water start

Stand up jet ski deep water start

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of these options:

Knee Start (“Tray Push”)

The knee start on a stand up jet ski from deep water is similar to the knee start from shallow water, but be prepared for more bodywork and balance! Let’s discuss the correct steps to take in the process:

1. Attach the safety lanyard to the jet ski.
2. Get to the back of the tray and place both of hands on the back of it.
3. Push the back of the tray down into the water and at the same time kick up to move your knee onto the tray.
4. Once the tray is submerged, place one of your knees onto the tray while leaving your other leg in the water for better stability. Make sure it’s not behind the pump!
5. Grab the handlebars and start the engine.
6. Speed up the jet ski until it’s plane, but no faster!
7. Pull up your other leg onto the tray.
8. Start riding the jet ski on your knees, but make sure you don’t sit on your heels.
9. Place your dominant foot in the front of the tray and slowly stand up.

With some experience, you can stand up right after the start instead of temporarily riding on your knees. Please note that this method requires more balance and focus!

The main advantage of this knee start is that the engine is off while you are in the water behind the jet ski. This is a key point as you don’t have to be afraid of injuries caused by the water jet.

Belly Start

Belly start (known as the body drag start) is considered a deep water start, but you can start this way from shallow water as well.

A belly start on a stand up jet ski simply means that you are dragged behind the jet ski until it gets some stability. Then you have to pull yourself up to the tray by the power of your upper body and a strong kick. After you’ve “jumped” onto the jet ski from the water you can start riding it in a kneeling position, then you can slowly stand up on the tray.

Let’s see how to do it properly:

1. Attach the safety lanyard.
2. Move your upper body way up on the tray.
3. Grab the handlebars with both hands.
4. Start the engine and carefully give some throttle.
5. Be careful of the water jet, as your body is still in the water while the engine is on!
6. Once the jet ski has some stability pull yourself up to the tray while doing a strong kick with both legs, which is known as the “dolphin kick.”
7. In this way, you can jump onto the tray with both knees.
8. Speed up the jet ski and stand up once it has enough stability.

Be extra careful as a belly start can be dangerous for your body – especially for the sensitive parts. Make sure you keep these away from the jet pump in any case! Because of this risk, experts recommend that you always use a knee start if possible.

Although it has some risks, there could be many situations when the belly start makes sense.

The most common issues are when your jet ski is too small for you and doesn’t offer enough stability for knee starts. But the preferred start method also depends on the water conditions and your skills and tiredness.

Another typical issue is when there is a no wake zone around the shore, which is quite common in many places.

In this situation a shallow water start is not an option for obvious reasons. To avoid wakes you can lay on the tray and drag yourself away from the shore at idle speed.

Once you reach the desired distance from the shore, you can get started one way or another.

Difficulties of Stand Up Jet Ski Starts

Boarding a stand up jet ski is difficult for every beginner, but the initial successes depend on many factors like the rider’s athletic skills, body size or even the characteristics of the jet ski.

If you want to learn more about these factors don’t hesitate to read more!

Body Size and Skills

Let’s face it, starting and riding stand up jet ski is much easier for smaller riders.

This is because the shorter and smaller your body is the easier it is to board a jet ski. (That’s why gymnasts are so short!)

This means if you are a bigger guy you need to make more effort, especially in the initial phases. Best practice is to get the jet ski on plane first and just then pull your body up on the tray.

Here’s a little trick which may also help:

Drag yourself behind the jet ski until it gains significant momentum. When you want to pull yourself up onto the tray, release the throttle for a second and pull your knees up quickly onto the tray. As soon as you’ve jumped up, immediately give throttle.

Some owners prefer to start the ski from its side instead of dragging themselves behind it to avoid “shoots” from the jet pump. Once the jet ski speeds up, they simply roll the jet ski to the side and board it as described above.

Additionally, beware that starting and riding a stand up jet ski requires athletic skills!

You still can’t board? Then you should take a closer look at the jet ski!

Inspect the Jet Ski

First things first, make sure your jet ski runs properly. Stand ups are powered mainly by 2-stroke engines, which means you have to deal with messed up carburetors many times.

If you feel that your jet ski doesn’t produce enough power, check the carbs or even the impeller to see if it has sucked up anything.

Warming Up a Stand Up Jet Ski

Another common problem is that riders may not warm up their jet skis before rides. If you want to start your stand up jet ski with a cold engine, you can expect less performance and reliability. To warm up a stand up jet ski, start the engine and drag yourself around with it at a lower speed for at least a minute before you start to ride. Also, make sure the throttle response is crisp at idle.

Consider a Larger Jet Ski or Modifications

Sometimes there is no other way than to look for another stand up jet ski with a larger hull. New stand ups come with different dimensions and performances, don’t hesitate to discover all of them here!

The biggest stand up jet ski on the market is arguably the Kawasaki SX-R1500, which is the only 4-stroke stand up jet ski on the market.

Kawasaki SX-R 1500 vs. SX-R 800

Kawasaki SX-R 1500 vs. SX-R 800

If you thinking about purchasing a used vintage stand up jet ski, beware that these models are really lightweight and playful, but because of their aged 2-stroke engines you can expect some “carb work” (troubleshooting the carburetor).

If you feel you still need more performance your other option is to modify your jet ski with some aftermarket parts. Higher performance always means higher stability, but you also can make a stand up jet ski more stable by replacing the ride plate or sponsons.

How to Steer a Stand Up Jet Ski

You can steer a stand up jet ski by turning the handlebar and leaning into the turns at the same time. If you want to turn right, just move your right foot to the front right corner and your left foot the left rear corner of the tray. Then turn the handlebar to the right and add some throttle.

Turning at a higher speed not only requires more throttle but you also have to move your center of gravity both down and towards the center of the turn more aggressively.

To do this, you have to lean your upper body and move your body weight towards the inside of the particular turn. You can notice the right posture in this picture:

How to ride a stand up jet ski.

How to ride a stand up jet ski.

While you do this, the whole jet ski will lean, but don’t worry. You won’t fall into the water until you reach the right speed.

As you can assume, this requires a lot of practice to master it!

You can handle a smaller stand up jet ski with much less effort, but the larger models require much more bodywork to turn them sharply!

Conclusion – Are Stand Up Jet Skis Fun?

Yes, riding a stand up jet ski is a ton of fun! You can do a lot of adrenalin rushes, sharp turns, and many great tricks with a stand up. That’s why many stand up riders consider sit down jet skis like “couches”, referring to their ease of use and convenient riding position.

On the other hand, a stand up jet ski is not for everybody. It requires some athletic skills and a lot of practice.

If you want to ride a stand up jet ski like a pro just follow these simple steps:

– Make sure your jet ski fits you and it runs properly.
– Warm up the engine before every ride.
– Start from shallow water to get some practice.
– Once you get on the tray ride on your knees for a while.
– Always stand up just after the jet ski gets on plane.
– If you want to turn right, move your right foot to the front and turn the handlebar to the right.
– At higher speeds move your body down and towards the center of the turn.
– Don’t be afraid to fall – no pain, no gain!
– Learn both deep water start techniques.
– Start learning tricks once you can handle the ski confidently on flat water.
Always wear a helmet while doing tricks, and gloves and shoes are also highly recommended.
– Practice, practice, practice!

This is our short guide on how to ride a stand up jet ski. We hope you find it useful!

References:

http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/boostajetski/how-to-ride-a-stand-up-jet-ski.html

https://watercraftjournal.com/back-to-basics-how-to-ride-a-stand-up-tutorial-video/

https://rivaracing.com/n-12851-5-tips-for-improved-riding.html

https://watercraftjournal.com/stand-up-skills-deep-water-start-video

https://watercraftjournal.com/stand-up-skills-shallow-water-start/

https://www.personalwatercraft.com/features/how-to-ride-a-standup-pwc-1033.html

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