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The 5 Main Types of Jet Ski Competitions [Video]

The 5 Main Types of Jet Ski Competitions [Video]

Jet ski racing is a popular sport in which riders compete against each other in different types of contests. There are different types of jet ski races, but the most well-known ones are arguably the following:

·         Circuit racing

·         Endurance racing

·         Offshore speed racing

·         Drag racing

·         Freestyle and freeride

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about each in detail!

The 5 Main Types of Jet Ski Racing

1. Circuit Racing

There’s no question that the most common jet ski competition is circuit racing, which is often referred to as buoy racing as well.

During this event, riders compete with each other on a closed course set up with colorful buoys. They have to ride their jet skis around these buoys for a fixed number of laps while reaching an incredible speed of 90 mph.

The length of these buoy-marked tracks is fairly short, which ensures tight competition and allows the spectators to get close to the action.

These competitions are typically held on rivers or lakes and they start with heats in which the fastest racers advance to the finals.

When it comes to the jet skis, both stand-ups and sit-down runabouts are used for circuit racing.

There are three major categories, with the “Stock” category only allowing minor modifications on the machine.

In contrast, jet skis with intermediate performance modifications race in the “Limited” category, while the heavily modified jet skis fall into the “F1” category.

2. Jet Ski Endurance Racing

Endurance jet ski races are long-distance competitions that often last several hours.

The competitors in these races can either be individuals or teams. They often face many hours of riding in rough conditions, which test their endurance, hence the name.

These races are also held in open waters like rivers or lakes, and the courses can reach 10 miles or even more.

The most famous of these are arguably held in Lake Havasu City, where the racers cover about 30 laps on a 10-mile track, which converts to 300 miles!

There’s a time limit in which competitors must try to complete as many laps as they can. The one who completes the most laps wins the race.

3. Jet Ski Offshore Speed Racing

As the name suggests, offshore jet ski racing is a special point-to-point endurance competition that is held on the ocean.

Racers have to cover long distances on open waters to reach a location that can even be 300-500 miles away. In most cases, there is no designated track since the racers have to race to a distant finish line.

Offshore endurance jet ski racing can be extremely demanding both mentally and physically. This is no surprise since racers have to deal with harsh environmental conditions like large waves, currents, wind, and even rain.

What’s more, they also have to pay attention to navigation and fuel management throughout the race.

Depending on the type of competition, both modified and stock runabout jet skis can be used in these events.

4. Jet Ski Drag Racing

Jet ski drag racing is what it sounds like, it’s a head-to-head jet ski competition of two machines on a short, straight course.

They race from a standing start over a specified distance, and the first who crosses the finish line wins.

Just like any other drag racing vessel or vehicle, drag racing jet skis are tuned for maximum acceleration and the highest top speed available.

As one may expect, the riders need great physical conditioning and outstanding reaction times. This is a key factor here since they have to get off the starting line as fast as possible.

5. Freestyle and Freeride

Often classed together, freestyle and freeride jet ski racing events are the X Games on the water.

Competitors in these events execute spectacular maneuvers and complicated tricks on a purpose-built stand-up jet ski. (Link: freestyle stand pu jet ski hulls-hamarosan lesz).

In freestyle competitions, a single racer performs a unique 2-minute routine that contains a wide variety of maneuvers and complex freestyle tricks like jumps, backflips, barrel rolls, and more.

This performance is viewed and evaluated by judges who score its variety, complexity, and execution.

Freeride events are very similar to freestyle, but they are typically held on the ocean, and with good reason.

Taking advantage of large waves, the competitors can perform more tricks like surfing and extreme aerial maneuvers.

In most cases, two freeride jet ski racers compete head-to-head, riding under the same water conditions.

Just like their freestyle relatives, freeride racing jet skis are typically custom machines built from aftermarket components.


There are many types of jet ski races, and each of these has its thrills and rules.

The most recognizable one is buoy racing which involves riders racing against each other on a closed course.

These events are typically set up on inshore water bodies like rivers or lakes where the racers have to maneuver around the buoys as fast as they can.

In contrast, endurance jet ski races cover much longer distances, up to 200-300 miles.

Some of these are held in offshore environments where riders have to pay attention to navigation and fuel management. These events are typically point-to-point competitions in which the distance can reach up to 500 miles.

The most spectacular jet ski competitions are arguably freestyle and freeride events where riders perform a short riding routine composed of amazing tricks.

Freestyle events are typically held on flat waters whereas freeride racers ride on large waves, which provide a great surfing environment and more opportunity for aerial tricks.