They seem all a bit too hard, standups that is. But everyone who rides a standup PWC comes back to shore with more of a glint in their eyes than Captain Jack Sparrow.
So are they worth the effort, which some experienced riders say is akin to learning to ride a bike?
First choose your weapon. The experts agree that if you're determined to stand tall on a PWC then the Kawasaki 800 SX-R offers one of the easier introductions to the dark side of the standup. These hot rods of the sea come down pretty much two things, handling and power. And the SX-R has both in spades.
Kawasaki jet ski 800 SX-R Hull
Kawasaki claims that the SX-R is small enough to load on the back of a truck. (At 180kg and 2.3m long, just make sure you have a couple of mates with you before trying it.)
Kawasaki has flared the bow before tucking it in again near midships. This shape, sometimes described as a sponson, is designed to give the SX-R more wetted surface where it matters and to dig the bow deeper into the water. It all pays off with tighter cornering than a conventional PWC, as long as the rider thinks of the SX-R as a waterborne motorbike and uses his balance and body weight in the corners.
Once you grasp the lean-in technique, which some find intuitive and others have to practice diligently, corners can be tackled with real aggression and many clicks above a conventional PWC. However, there's no way getting round the fact than until you find the SX-R's sweet spot you're going to spend some time in the water.
The tray on which the rider stands will help prevent unexpected immersions. Kawasaki has hollowed out space from the gunwales allowing the rider to balance more easily under speed and to use their weight more effectively in turns.
Shins and arms will also appreciate the generous padding along the gunwale edges and on the control bar.
Kawasaki jet ski 800 SX-R Engine
Kawasaki claims its 781cc, twin-cylinder, two-stroke with a lovely big-bore exhaust, cranks out 58.9 kW. It certainly feels like it. Top speed is around 78km/h, but this boat is more about hurling at crazy speeds into corners than tearing across the water in a drag race. All this squirt is more easily deployed in the bendy bits, with the two-stroke offering explosive bottom end squirt. And you need to use it to stay upright. For experienced riders a judicious blast will both tighten a turn and even keep you out of the water.
Thrills but no frills
While it's not a stripped out racer the SX-R has few of the comfort features of more conventional PWC.
It's strictly a hose-out special compared to other PWCs and while it offers enough power and handling to satisfy most riders, adrenalin junkies can extract even more oomph with the addition of various aftermarket go-fast goodies.
Kawasaki jet ski 800 SX-R Verdict
The SX-R is a very serious performance machine yet for all its get up and go, beginners shouldn't be afraid to tackle its thrills. Just grit your teeth and hang on tight. You won't stop grinning like Cap'n Jack.