A Quick History of the Personal Watercraft

Riding a personal watercraft is a thrilling experience. The ride alone gives you a great sense of excitement. But have you ever thought about the history of such machine. If not, then read and learn how the personal watercraft came to be.

In the late sixties, the Bombardier family thought of a concept vehicle that would soon become the core of an extremely exciting and competitive industry. What the Bomvardier family wanted was a vehicle that would resemble the famed Ski-Doo snowmobile but would run on water. Being a family who spent their summers on and around the lakes of the Laurentian region of Quebec, the Bombardier household would sensibly have a certain liking towards water sports.

The Bombardier family, in a move to make reality their dream, commissioned Clayton Jacobsen II to design such machine. Jacobsen also dreamt of creating a motorcycle-like vehicle that navigate on water with relative ease and speed. The two parties joined their heads and their resources to realize the first ever personal watercraft.

Jacobsen initially started with a stand-up design. However, Bombardeir wanted to go for a model that allows the rider to sit while handling the vehicle. Starting with an 18-hp Rotax engine provided by the Bombardier Family, Jacobsen went to complete the sit-down design of his machine.

In 1968, the combined resources of the Bombardier family and Jacobsen gave birth to Sea-Doos (a play on the name of Bombardier’s famous snowmobile line). A year later, Bombardier updated the engine and integrated it with a liquid cooling mechanism, an update of Jacobsens design, which was basically cooled by air intake. But problems with corrosion and engines made the Bombardiers give up on the project.

Jacobsen tried to save the project. He made a list of changes that should be made and incorporating rubber components and even suggested the idea of waterproofing the body. Bombardier failed to act on Jacobsens suggestions and the project was shelved.

Jacobsen, determined to see the project through, purchased the rights of the patent and sold the design to Kawasaki in 1971. With some tweaks of the original design by Jacobsen, Kawasaki was able to build a better, more functional type of personal watercraft. In 1973, Kawasaki released the Jet Ski, the first commercial personal watercraft. Today, the term Jet Ski denotes all types of water crafts, even though the name is a registered trademark under Kawasaki Motors.