Yes, all these years you may have thought that you were riding a Jet Ski, but unless it was manufactured by Kawasaki it was actually a Wave Runner or Sea Doo. And if it was a Wave Runner then it was manufactured by Yamaha.
Here at Balboa Water Sports, located in Newport Beach, CA, we rent Sea Doos, which are manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP). There are a lot of reasons why a Sea Doo is the best. But today we are focusing on the history of the Personal Watercraft and all the term confusion (AKA Jet Ski, Wave Runner, or Sea Doo).
Sea Doo, the First Personal Water Craft
Personal Watercraft (PWC) first hit the market in Europe and were originally termed a “water scooter”. The first PWC introduced in the US was actually manufactured by Bombardier in the 1960s. Sea-Doo called it the “Jet-Powered Aqua Scooter”. It much like today’s models had a seat, though it was much smaller and only carried one passenger.
In 1970 Kawasaki introduced the first Stand-Up PWC using the term “Jet Ski”. They quickly trademarked the term.
Those first Jet Skis were only designed for one rider who had to stand up. So quickly the generic term “Jet Ski” caught on and until this day is often used to reference other brands of personal watercraft.
Lastly, Yamaha got into the game in 1986 with the first WaveRunner, which was a sit-down model. Bombardier then re-introduced the Sea Doo in 1988, again with the sit-down style accommodating two passengers.
The terms “Jet Ski”, “Sea Doo”, and “WaveRunner” contribute to a lot of misconceptions about personal watercraft. For Example, if it is a stand-up personal watercraft then it must be a “Jet Ski”. Another, if you sit down on it then it must be a WaveRunner or Sea Doo. In fact, all three manufacturers have at one time or another made a stand-up and sit-down model.