Whether they are used as support vehicles at watersports events, as a sports tool or just for sheer fun as a "water toy" on board larger yachts - jet skis and other personal watercraft are extremely versatile and offer enormous potential to have a good time. But the many different ways to name these personal watercraft are a bit confusing: Jet-ski, jet-boat, aquabike, jetbike, waverunner or water motorcycle?
Why all these different names?
In any case, it is characteristic that this type of watercraft is generally less than 4 meters long, has no outside hull, a water jet drive or jet pump drive working with an impeller (used also for steering) as well as an internal combustion engine. And you are not sitting but rather kneeling or standing on the vehicle. As you can fall off jet-skis easily, quick-stop-Systems are mandatory in Germany: The rider is connected to the watercraft via a cable on his wrist which will switch the engine off automatically and stop the jet-ski when the rider falls off.
After demand for personal watercraft started to increase in the 1970s, some manufacturers invented new names for their newly developed products and had it protected as a trademark. So the term "Jet-Ski" actually stands for Kawasaki watercrafts, "Waverunner" are built by Yamaha and Honda had their "AquaTrax". To use names independent ly of brands, the terms "water motorcycle" and "jet boat" were introduced. In the end, its all the one thing.
Aquabikes as sport
And while we ar at it, you also distinguish between the so-called 'stand-ups' for one person and the 'sit downs', on whose bench several co-drivers can be seated one behind the other. When racing in competition mode, these two basic models are again called differently: 'Ski' and 'Runabout'. Jet-boat racing is organized by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), represented in Germany by the DMYV (Deutscher Motoryachtverband) as a national association. If you are interested in international sports, you will find what you are looking for under the terms aquabike or jetbike on the websites of both organizations.
What you need to ride an aquabike
Aquabikes are allowed on many waterways in Germany as well as internationally, however restrictions to the exact areas are defined locally. For Germany, jet-ski areas are precisely listed in the "Electronic Waterway Information Service" of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration on elwis.de. Races and free-style riding may only take place on designated tracks. Like with motorcycle acrobats on land, it is rather breathtaking what freestyle riders can do with their watercraft in competitions. However, due to the strong engines of the vessels, you need a boating license for leisure craft in order to be allowed to drive in Germany. Similar regulations apply in other countries.