Looking for some fun on the water? Personal Watercraft (or PWC for short - often known as 'Jetskis' after the original Kawasaki 'Jet Ski' brand name that won as widespread popular following in the early days of the discipline) offer a great solution either as a standalone fun craft, or as a 'toy' for those with larger boats (see Top 10 Coolest Superyacht Toys). Here's our pick of the best...
Entry level Personal Watercraft (under £10,000)
(1) Yamaha VX Sport
Yamaha’s entry-level offering is designed to keep sit-down four-stroke entertainment affordable. As the least expensive of the three craft in the VX line, the Sport is quite a modest looking boat but it does all the important things well. The extended rear platform with slip resistant Hydro-Turf mats is ideal for watersports fans, as are the convex dual mirrors which now come as standard. The multi-chine VX hull features a semi-V shape for responsive handling and neutral turning performance alongside efficient planning and confidence-inspiring stability and comfort. The lightweight, four-cylinder, 20-valve, 1052cc engine uses EFI to help improve both efficiency and smoothness of power delivery – and the price is excellent.
(2) Yamaha SJ700 Superjet
The latest incarnation of Yamaha’s famous SuperJet is powered by a proven two-cylinder 701cc powerplant with loop-charged combustion to improve the fuel/air mixture for better performance and efficiency. The lightweight hull features very pronounced strakes with moulded sponsons on the forward section for hard carving through the corners and better stability on the straight. Stability is further improved by positioning the ride plate a long way aft to help lengthen the waterline and this combination of features means not just harder, more aggressive turns for quality riders but also an easier learning curve for the novice. The fact that it’s compact, lightweight, good-looking and affordable is just a bonus.
(3) Sea-Doo GTI 130
The GTI 130 comes with Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC), 110 litres of storage (including dry storage for small items), a tow hook and a Learning Key, which enables you to limit engine speed for the benefit of tentative novices. There are cheaper options in the Sea-Doo Recreation line but the iBR facility on the GTi 130 makes this a worthwhile upgrade. It means that with the squeeze of the left-hand trigger, you can stop the craft much more quickly – and with a second squeeze, you can engage ‘astern’ propulsion. It’s a well-considered package.
Mid range Personal Watercraft (£10,000-£20,000)
(4) Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO
Yamaha’s flagship WaveRunner is designed to be a fast, comfortable, long-distance cruiser so it’s good to see that this comprehensively appointed craft comes with three extremely secure ‘theatre-style’ seats and a class-leading 125 litres of storage capacity. Performance-wise, the supercharged 1812cc engine with Hyper-Flow jet pump delivers plenty of poke and the electronic throttle control with ‘Cruise-Assist’ and ‘Low-wake’ modes helps keep things clean and efficient. The Quick-Shift System gives you simple control of the trim (ideal for powerboaters making the move to PWs) and the easy-to-read dash is as informative and intuitive as you would expect from Yamaha.
(5) Sea-Doo RXT-X 260as
It may seem expensive but this three-seater, suspension-equipped, 260hp ocean-munching performance cruiser from Sea-Doo is a hell of a boat. Weighing in at 64kg more than the basic RXT, the suspension system offers superb ride quality through the chop by isolating the entire internal section (including seating and helm unit) from the impacts incurred by the hull - and while the smaller race-ready RXP might win the awards, the longer hull and extra features of this boat make it a far better choice for most users. In short, despite the purchase price, the maturity of performance and breadth of application make this good value.
(6) HSR Benelli B3R Sport
HSR Benelli’s flagship B3R Sport is the current top dog in the world of uncompromising musclecraft. This three-man speed machine is equipped with an outrageously powerful three-cylinder engine, pumping out 315hp – or one horsepower for every 1.2kg. Naturally, it is a favourite with racers, particularly as it comes with adjustable rear sponsons, an aggressively sculpted sports seat and an adjustable steering bracket. Of course, it features less storage space than the 265hp version but with all that extra power, the owner of Benelli’s dramatic flagship is unlikely to care.
(7) Kawasaki 300 LX
At just 3.37 metres in length, Kawasaki’s 300 LX might look a touch tubby but with a supercharged and intercooled 1,498ccfour-stroke engine churning out 285hp, it is by no means sedate. To help keep things safe, frugal and comfy, you get the usual high-end cruiser features, with an ‘Eco’ ride indicator, a SLO-Mode, a fuel economy assist mode, Cruise Control, digital instrumentation and a five-way adjustable handle. And in addition to some well-appointed space for three courtesy of those ‘scalloped’ seats, you get a dash with a handlebar pad that can be equipped with a small handheld GPS.
(8) Sea-Doo GTR 215
Don’t be fooled by the relatively modest spec sheet. The GTR 215 is one of the most thrilling three-man PWs money can buy. It is slightly wider, lower and shorter than most comparable craft and in tandem with Sea-Doo’s Recreation Line hull, that makes it not just fantastic to look at but also easy to drive, with some useful extra slip and some attractively stable tracking dialled into the handling of the boat. Remarkably, the pared back approach makes this craft 20kg lighter than the two-seater RXP and that is manifested in a radically quick and agile performance. True, the seat could be more supportive and there’s no proper dry storage, but it’s a hard boat not to love.
(9) HSR Benelli B3S Extreme
Benelli’s ‘Extreme’ standup (seen at the London Boat Show in January uses an acutely angled hull with integrated forward sponsons, 360-degree bumpers, a reinforced aluminum riding plate and a large standing mat area. However, the big news here is the power. There is a less aggressive 135hp version but with an output of 180hp, this is a truly ferocious ski. At 2.5 metres in length and 199kg in weight (60kg heavier than Yamaha’s Superjet), it’s quite a big lump and it’s far from cheap but if you want an exclusive badge, a satanic paint job and a massive wedge of grunt, it’s a serious tempter.
Top end Personal Watercraft (over £20,000)
(10) Gibbs Quadski
The Quadski is described by its makers as the world’s first high-speed sports amphibian. Powered by BMW Motorrad’s K1300 engine, coupled to the company’s own jet propulsion system, a beamy, lightweight composite hull with a very low centre of gravity and a broad wheelbase of 1.8 metres means it is capable of speeds of up to 45mph both on and off the water. The wheels retract close beneath the flared topsides when on the water, enabling you to go from land to sea (and from rear-wheel drive to jet propulsion) in just four seconds. It’s only a one-man craft but happily, a two-seat version is also in the offing.
Want to add some excitement to your PWC? See The Flyboard: How to Add Fun to Your PWC.