The earlier days in the watercraft world were not for everybody. The personal watercrafts (PWC) were small, agile vessels that were extremely lightweight with 2 stroke engines.

Unlike new models, these watercrafts, with a max rider capacity of 1-2 people, were fun to ride but not the easiest to control.

Their lightweight bodies made them quite nimble which hindered with their ability to be controlled by beginners.

However, over time, watercraft manufacturers understood this situation and in an attempt to increase the popularity and acceptability of the craft, they began to increase the sizes of their models.

As the size of models became bigger, their performance, weights and top speeds also increased.

The bigger size of the models made them more stable out on the water and thus enabled more people to easily ride them. This contributed to their growing popularity and more and more people began to purchase and use watercrafts for recreational activities.

While the advantages of large-sized watercrafts are quite apparent, the increase in size also brought a number of drawbacks along with it.

We will look into every aspect in more detail to analyze exactly how and why watercrafts are so big now and what it means for us, as customers?

Sea-Doo Dimensions

In order to make an accurate comparison of the old and the new models, all you need is visual proof.

Take a look at the picture below of 1991 Sea-Doo XP as compared to the 2019 Sea-Doo RXP-X.

The difference is absolutely shocking but the more surprising fact is that the Sea-Doo RXP-X is not the biggest of the present day models!

Sea-Doo compariosn: XP 1991 vs. RXP-X 2019

Sea-Doo compariosn: XP 1991 vs. RXP-X 2019

Let’s do the same comparison with the 2019 Sea-Doo RXT-X what is 136″ long:

YearModelHP Weight (Lbs)Length (")With (")
2019RXT-X30082813650
2010RXT-X26096013948
2005RXTsc21586913148
2000XP13056810744
1995XP11041310341
1991XP603659641
Sea-Doo comparison: XP 1991 vs. RXT-X 2019

Sea-Doo comparison: XP 1991 vs. RXT-X 2019

As far as the visual difference is concerned, there is no denying of the fact that the Sea-Doo models have grown massively.

However, there are other features that have improved over time as well. The weight of the watercrafts has more than doubled during the years and the performance has gone up from 60 HP to as much as 300 HP.

This shows that the current models have a much better (0.36) weight-to-power ratio than the original ones (0.16) and as the users describe, the feel of the ride has also radically changed.

This is one thing that cannot be described or proven using numbers; you just have to experience it to feel it.

Yamaha Waverunner Dimensions

Similar to the Sea-Doo models, the Yamaha Waverunner has also grown in size over the years.

If we compare some of the earliest models and the current FX Cruiser SVHO, we can see the differences quite clearly.

We can start with the first model the WaveRunner (Marine Jet) 500T; the first watercraft manufactured by Yamaha in 1986. The length of this model was just 9.08 feet (108″) and it weighed a mere 346 pounds.

In the recent models, it can be seen that the length of the watercraft has increased by 30% over the years from 108 inches to as big as 141 inches.

There was also a significant increase in the weight of the watercraft as it went from 346 pounds to 820 pounds; almost 2.5 times more.

WaveRunner comparison: MJ500T 1986 vs. FX c. SVHO

WaveRunner comparison: MJ500T 1986 vs. FX c. SVHO

While many might argue the difference in the dimensions is conspicuous, it is still big.

The original Yamaha WaveJammer back in 1987 was a unique model. It was one of its kind, with a fusion of both stand-up and sit-down positions.

This was one of the reasons why the model was not quite popular as well. Moreover, riding the watercraft was also difficult, especially taking the start. Taking feedback from customers and learning from past experience, Yamaha introduced the stand-up watercraft called the SuperJet in 1990.

The length of the WaveJammer was only 7.33 feet (88″), and it was as lightweight as only 286 pounds.

When we compare this model to the new FX Cruiser SVHO, and the weight from 262 pounds to 820 pounds, we can clearly judge what a massive difference in dimensions the company has made to its models over the years.

WaveJammer 1987 vs. FX c. SVHO

WaveJammer 1987 vs. FX c. SVHO

It wasn’t just the physical dimensions, the performance numbers skyrocketed as well. Both of these two models arrived with a 496 ccm two-stroke engine that had the power of 32 HP.

The current flagship Waverunners, on the other hand, offer 250 HP which is near five times more than its ancestors:

YearModelHP Weight (Lbs)Length (")
2019FX C. SVHO250820140.9
2015FX C. SVHO250836140.9
2010FX C. HO200805133
2005FX C. HO160783132
2000SUV1200YP135815151
2000GP1200R155673113
1995III GP63471118
1990LX42380108
1987WaveJammer3228688
1986500T32346108

Stand-up Jet Ski Sizes

If there is one name that cannot be ignored when it comes to watercrafts, it’s Kawasaki.

Let’s first take a look at some of the most popular Kawasaki models!

Kawasaki released their first stand up Jet Ski in 1973. These models were really attractive to watersport enthusiasts, as riding a Jet Ski was quite similar to waterski – just without a boat.

However, riding these early models wasn’t easy, not everybody could get the hang of it immediately.

The situations got worse on choppy waters because of the jet-ski’s small and nimble hull which made it not so stable in the water.

Over time, however, these models became bigger and thus more stable while being ridden.

If we take the stand up Jet Skis for our comparison, we can see that the difference is quite significant between the recently returned Kawasaki SX-R and the legendary 550 SX Jet Ski from 1990.

550SX 1990 vs. 2019 SX-R Jet Ski Comparison

550SX 1990 vs. 2019 SX-R Jet Ski Comparison

Sales of the 550SX first started in 1990 followed by an updated version of it hitting the market a year later.

The model had great agility and offered the feel of riding a dirt bike. These qualities made the Jet Ski a fan-favorite quite quickly and its special features immediately made Kawasaki winner on many competitions.

Comparing the SX-R to the 550SX, it would not be wrong to say that the overall performance of the Jet Ski went through an amazing change; from just 41 HP to 160 HP.

Along with the performance, the weight and total dimensions of the jet ski are most definitely bigger as well.

According to the feedback of many Kawasaki users, the new SX-R stand up Jet Skis extremely powerful, but it doesn’t entirely give you the same playful feeling that old and smaller Jet Ski models offered.

YearModelHP Weight (Lbs)Length (")With (")
2019SX-R16055110530
2003SX-R 8008035189,829,6
1990550SX412518424

When we extend this comparison to include another famous model, it becomes a critical Jet Ski comparison debate that turns up again and again among jet ski enthusiasts.

Let’s compare the current SX-R Jet Ski sizes with the original SX-R 800 from 2003!

If we look at the numbers, we can see the weight of the current model is almost 50% more than the original which means it went from 351 pounds to 551 pounds. The length has also been increased by more than 16%.

Kawasaki SX-R 800 (2003) vs. 2019 SX-R Jet Ski comparison

Kawasaki SX-R 800 (2003) vs. 2019 SX-R Jet Ski comparison

If you are interested in more Jet Ski horsepower specs, and would like to compare to the competitor models, don’t hesitate to check our latest article on the topic!

Why have these dimensions changed over the years?

If we look at the possible answers as to why jet ski hulls have become so big over the years, we can find two main reasons. These are:

the market demand and
the increased performance

Jet Skis and other watercrafts in the 80’s – 90’s could be ridden by one skilled rider – and they had only one or a maximum of two rider capacity.

You needed a greater set of skills to ride a watercraft because of their high agility and instability.

Today’s watercrafts, on the other hand, are much more stable and easy to operate. That is what enables almost everybody to rent a PWC without any prior experience.

Coming back to the point, as time passed by, customers demanded more; more space, more rider and storage capacity, more horsepower and greater top speeds.

They also wanted more “family friendly” watercrafts; the bigger hulls served this purpose quite well.

Looking at the increased demand and customer feedback, the manufactures had no choice but to adapt to the changing customer requirements. When top companies started taking customer demand into consideration, the industry began to grow.

Nowadays, you can take your whole family with you on a jet ski ride as the new models are much more stable and have plenty of space for passengers and gears as well.

There was even a time where jet skis like Yamaha SUV or Sea-Doo LRV were so huge that they could hold even 4 passengers. (Current models offer max 3 passenger capacity.)

It can be said that as jet skis grew bigger, they became the alternatives of boats to a certain level.

Furthermore, you also can pull a tube or a wakeboard with a watercraft.

This factor is another demand of the customers. Similarly, fishing with a watercraft is has become a popular activity among enthusiast and this has only been made possible because of the big jet ski hulls providing stability and ease of control.

The other factor that pushed the jet skis towards larger sizes is their increased performance.

On one hand, it can be dubbed as a “vicious cycle”; the bigger and heavier a hull is, the more performance it needs. To get more performance you need a larger engine, more oil and gas, etc.

This adds to the total weight of the watercraft which in turn affects the performance, so on and so forth.

On the other hand, however, there are many buyers who make their purchasing decision based on the performance specifications of the watercraft, especially the horsepower.

High focus on the Horsepower numbers was one of the reasons that led the famous horsepower competition between the top manufacturers of watercraft.

One drawback of this process is that the higher the performance of a jet ski, the higher the total price of the jet ski will be and the greater the maintenance costs.

The shift back to smaller models

While there are many advantages of your craft having a bigger hull and higher performance, PWC enthusiasts argue that the huge models have taken away the fun from the activity.

The smaller, agile watercrafts provided greater opportunities for fooling around in the waters and were thoroughly enjoyed for their light weight and sharp turns.

Reports showed how many people started regarding these big jet skis as boats and for their watercraft fun on the water, they purchased old models or rented out used ones. This showed manufacturers that the market was demanding smaller models again.

The 2008 financial crisis also contributed to this trend as many customers could now not afford the bigger, high-performance models.

Sea-Doo was the first of the major manufacturers to recognize this change in customer preference and so they introduced their Spark Series in 2014.

With this launch, the small and nimble watercrafts made their way back into the market and the Rec-Lite PWC category was officially born.

Let’s compare the Sea-Doo Spark 2 UP (length: 110″, weight: 405 pounds) and the RXT-X 300 which has the longest hull manufactured by Sea-Doo.

It arrives with 136″ length and 828 pounds net weight. The difference is significant!

Sea-Doo RXT-X vs. SPARK 2UP

Sea-Doo RXT-X vs. SPARK 2UP

Yamaha was not slow to catch on. They also kept up with the trend and released their Rec-Lite watercrafts, the EX Waverunner series in 2017.

Let’s compare the current flagship Waverunner, the FX Cruiser SVHO and the Yamaha EX.

The big brother arrives with 140 inches in length and 820 pounds in weight while the EX’s length is just 123.2 inches and the weight is more moderate, just 529 pounds.

If we compare the two hulls, the difference is not as huge is in case of the Sea-Doo comparison, but it’s still pretty great.

Yamaha EX WaveRunner vs. FX Cruiser SVHO

Yamaha EX WaveRunner vs. FX Cruiser SVHO

Similarly, if we compare Jet Ski models from Kawasaki, the best choice of models would be the Ultra 310R and the STX-15F.

The sizes and weights of the models in the Ultra 310 series are quite similar. The 310R arrives with 132.7 inches in length and 1047 pounds in curb weight.

The STX-15F, on the other hand, weighs 844 pounds and the length is 122.8 inches.

If we compare the two models side by side,  we can see that the dimensions of the hulls are not too far from each other.

Even if the 310R has a bulkier hull, we can see that the STX-15F’s length not much shorter than the former.

Ultra 310R vs. STX-15F Jet Ski Comparison

Ultra 310R vs. STX-15F Jet Ski Comparison

Summary

When we look at the evolution of jet skis over the last twenty years, it would not be incorrect to say that the customer truly is the boss in the business market.

What started as small, nimble stand-up Jet Skis evolved into huge, high powered beasts that allowed for greater space and more stability.

The weight and sizes of the watercrafts changed depending on the preference of the customer. The smaller models, back in the 80s and 90s were not unexperienced riders. They were difficult to master and had a very low capacity for riders and storage. Customers demanded change.

The top manufacturers in the business responded to this demand by developing bigger, more stable watercrafts. The sizes and weights of the watercraft increased significantly.

The high powered models were great for family recreation and much more easy to ride for beginners as these hulls are more stable even in rough water.

As time went by, however, people began to realize how these giants did not allow for as much fun in the water as their ancestors. This led to them demanded another change in the development of the newer models.

They now wanted smaller watercrafts back and that is what the manufacturers gave them.

Sea-Doo and Yamaha came up with a brand new category of PWCs that incorporated the agility of the older models and the stability of the more recent ones all in one.

The Rec-Lite models are perfect for riders who are looking to have some fun out in the water but are also not as experienced with riding a watercraft.

Beyond the Rec-Lite watercrafts, another good option for smaller hulls are the stand up models like Yamaha Superjet, the above mentioned SX-R stand up Jet Ski.

Moreover, the new KRASH watercrafts arrive with the smallest hulls and the best power to weight ratios on the market.

These models are all already available in the US market and all you have to do is contact your local dealership to get your hands onto the most suitable watercraft for you.

Don’t miss their test drives and taste the feeling of the old timer riding in new shape!

Like what you read? Spread the world, and share this story with other PWC fans!

Sources:

https://www.kawasaki.ca/corporate/jetski-museum
https://www.yamahawaverunners.com/
https://kawasaki.com/
https://www.sea-doo.com/
http://boatspecs.iboats.com/

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