Happy Ending: On Jet Skis

IMG_8408_1Baja. Photo: Steve Sherman

Surfing is simple:

  • Take surfboard into ocean.
  • Paddle surfboard into wave.
  • Ride wave on surfboard.

Straightforward, right? Sometimes not. Sometimes, complication seeps in like a scalding hot French roast spilling onto a stack of hand-written letters and muddling up the messages with its caffeinated darkness. And sometimes, Jet Skis seep into surfing with the roar of Yamaha thunder and muddle up surfing’s simplicity with a trail of high octane petroleum rainbows. Caffeine not necessary — the throttle is no place for a jittery hand.

Now let’s be honest. Jet Skis aren’t bad for surfing. They get people into waves that are undeniably un-paddle-able. They take you to places inaccessible by land. They save lives. Jet Skis cause more good than they do harm.

Now let’s be really honest. The power of the Jet Ski is abused. When you cram the might of 210 horses into one Japanese motor, that horsepower isn’t always used for good like a Budweiser Clydesdale. Often times, that horsepower is used for vanity. For an unfair and wildly unnecessary advantage. For a step-off in a head high wave.

Some people and some places get a pass. If you’ve consistently proven yourself in waves of consequence, go ahead and gas up. If the current really is that bad and it’ll make your session that much better, throttle it. If there is nobody else around and you’re bored and it’s big and it’s peaky and that’s your thing, vroom fucking vroom I guess. But when the stars don’t align to form a constellation in the shape of a Sea-Doo? Let’s just go surfing.—Brendan Buckley