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The 7 Most Common Jet Ski Handling Errors to Avoid

The 7 Most Common Jet Ski Handling Errors to Avoid

Jet skiing always means great fun, and fortunately, they can be easily operated even by beginners. But despite the ease of use, you can see many riders who repeatedly make the same mistakes.

Are you wondering what these are and how you can avoid them?

We, at JetDrift, have collected the most common jet ski handling error information, so you can avoid these mistakes and ride like a pro!

The 7 Most Common Jet Ski Handling Errors

1. Starting the jet ski in shallow water

Surprisingly, many riders make the most common jet ski handling mistakes when they start their engines in shallow water.

Every owner’s manual clearly states that you can start the engine only in a certain depth of water, which is usually 3 feet (90 cm).

If you ignore this warning, you risk your pump sucking up debris, trash, and even smaller rocks from the bottom.

Beyond the pain and hassle to remove these objects, this can damage the jet ski’s propulsion system, as the impeller and the wear ring can be damaged easily.

Because of this, always check the water depth before you start the engine, and also shut it off for the same reason before beaching your jet ski!

2. Porpoising

“Porpoising” is the effect when your jet ski is jumping in and out (surging) of the water instead of running smoothly along the surface.

This issue usually occurs with hard accelerations. If you have a high-performance PWC and do a “race style” start, it’s good to know that these models are prone to leaping out of the water. In fact, many times the problem comes from your position. If you sit too far back on the saddle, it leads to raising the bow of the jet ski.

The good news is that you can correct this jet ski handling error easily. Just sit forward on the seat closer to the handlebars and lean your upper body over it. At the same time, move your feet farther to the rear for better stability.

In this way, you can move more weight toward the bow which can keep it down if you do hard accelerations. If your jet ski has a trim system, turn the nozzle down completely.

Once the ski is on plane mode, don’t forget to set the trim to the optimal position and you can also sit on the saddle comfortably.

3. Don’t stand up on rough water

Today’s jet skis have really big and bulky hulls, which means they are much more stable and comfortable on rough water.

However, if you’ve ever ridden in rough conditions, you may find that if you ride your jet ski in a sitting position, it can lead to painful bumps on the saddle.

Because of this, it’s highly recommended you ride your jet ski in the standing position! In this way, you can compensate for the bumpy effects of the waves with your legs, which means a much better riding experience for you – and for your legs as well!

If you have to cover a longer distance, you may find this position tiring. To get some rest, sit down on the saddle’s lower back support (seat bolster) while using your legs to compensate for the bumps.

What’s more, the standing position also gives you a better view of your surroundings.

Also, keep your speed low and avoid hard accelerations. If your ski has “ECO mode” or “Slow mode”, don’t hesitate to turn them on for smoother handling.

These were just some basic tips, but if you ride your jet ski in rough water regularly, don’t hesitate to learn more to stay safe on the water even in harsh weather!

4. Sliding out in hard turns

According to professionals, the next very common jet ski handling error is when you slide out during hard turns. It means your hull doesn’t cut into the water perfectly and the rear side of the jet ski slides out suddenly.

In fact, this issue was much more common on the early sit-down jet skis, but the problem still exists even on the newest models!

It can lead to losing control, which can be scary, and finally, you can find yourself in the water. In the worst-case scenario, you can capsize your jet ski!

Because of this, it’s wise to learn upfront how to flip your jet ski over in the water properly, as well as learning how you can reboard easily.

You may also like to know how to avoid sliding out with your jet ski. The good news is that you can avoid this issue if you control your speed and pay attention to your body’s position.

First, position your feet properly! The trick here is to put your inside foot toward the front of the jet ski while moving your outside foot toward the back of the footwell. In this way, you can keep your jet ski’s stern firmly in the water during the turns.

You should check the trim again, as setting it down helps to keep your jet ski’s hull in the water.

5. Riding with passengers improperly

Most first-time riders think that riding with passengers doesn’t require any practice until they fall into the water!

In fact, if you want to take passengers or a lot of gear with you, it all affects your jet ski’s curb weight, thus the whole handling experience changes radically.

One of the most common issues is if the passengers fall off the jet ski during a sharp turn. This could also be an issue if your jet ski capsizes at low speed due to the lack of stability.

What’s more, if your passenger falls down behind the jet ski, the pump can force the high-pressure water into her/his orifices! That’s why your owner’s manual gives recommendations and instructions for you if you want to take passengers with you.

Never overlook these and learn how to ride your jet ski with passengers properly!

6. Riding at overly high speeds

One of the most common jet ski handling errors is overly high speed. According to the yearly jet ski death and accident reports by U.S.Coast Guard, one of the main reasons for many accidents is reckless driving and uncontrolled speed.

Because of this, you always have to be careful, especially if you aren’t an experienced rider.

If your ski has a “learning key” or any kind of “slow mode” installed, it’s highly recommended you use these features in your first rides as a beginner.

Once you have some experience you can try higher speeds – but only with caution!

7. Doing dangerous tricks

It’s common knowledge that stand-up jet skis are designed for tricks, but you would be surprised how many tricks can be done on a sit-down jet ski as well!

But let’s face it, some of these stunts are not just spectacular, but dangerous at the same time.

For example, the popular wave jumps can be dangerous for you and for your jet ski as well.  Operating the jet ski in different tricky positions or even facing backward is also risky and is not recommended at all.

It’s wise to know your limits and to wear the proper jet ski clothes and protection like helmets, to reduce the risk of injuries!


As you can see, there are several jet ski handling errors, but the good news is that most of them can be avoided completely.

Avoiding these errors involves learning how the jet ski works, as well as the basics of how to operate it. You can also find useful and necessary info in your owner’s manual, so don’t overlook it!

Additionally, it’s wise to learn how to avoid the 7 most common jet ski handling issues:–              Starting the jet ski in shallow water

–              Porpoising

–              Not standing up in rough water

–              Sliding out in turns

–              Riding with passengers improperly

–              Riding at overly high speeds

–              Doing dangerous tricks

Fortunately, all of them can be avoided by a careful operation. The most important rules to remember are to control your speed, know your limits, and avoid tricks that can be dangerous for you.

You also have to pay attention to your handling techniques. If you don’t have riding experience, you can make a good start at some of the jet ski rental services.

Moreover, you should consider obtaining a boating safety course (jet ski license) even if your state doesn’t require you to have one.

This was our short compilation of information about the 7 most common jet ski handling errors. We hope you find it useful!

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