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Coast Guard Requirements for Personal Watercrafts

Jet Skis are a blast to ride, but many people don’t understand why newly manufactured Jet Skis have a top speed limited to 65mph. Common rules and regulations have been created to ensure people’s safety, but in particular, the coast guard has come to an agreement with manufacturers that affects the top speed of stock Jet Skis. Personal watercraft and Jet Skis are very safe if you have any amount of common sense, but the top speeds have been limited as an extremely cautious preventative measure to further protect watercraft enthusiasts.

Limiting the Top Speed of Watercraft

Before 1999, there were little to no regulations on Jet Skis and other personal watercraft. Unfortunately, the lack of regulations during this period of time created unnecessary risks for people who just wanted to have fun on the water. Many times an unsuspecting rider would lose control and become seriously injured due to the lack of regulations. Since this time period, Jet Skis and other watercraft have become exponentially safer – even at top speeds. However, the coast guard wanted to impose rules that many felt were unreasonably stringent.450x300_q95

To address this problem and to protect the general boating population, the Coast Guard and personal watercraft manufacturers created a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ in 1999 to limit the top speeds of Jet Skis to 65 mph. Though the agreement is informal, manufacturers choose to comply to improve the safety of their products.

What’s interesting is that no regulatory agency has stepped in and created legally binding rules to control the manufacturing of Jet Skis. However, when you consider the agreement with the Coast Guard to limit top speeds from a reputational perspective, things make a little more sense. For example, a Jet Ski manufacturer wouldn’t want to be well known for creating Jet Skis that don’t comply with the Coast Guard’s suggestions. In addition, there are ethical considerations as well.

Manufacturer’s Concerns for Safety

However, despite the fact that manufacturers intentionally limit the top speed of Jet Skis, it is still entirely possible – and legal – to modify your Jet Ski. Because the agreement between the Coast Guard and top PWC manufacturers is not a binding agreement, this is not illegal. To do so, you simply need to purchase aftermarket parts and upgrade components on your Jet Ski.

You will want to keep this in mind if you decide to purchase a used Jet Ski, however. Be sure to ask the owner if the watercraft was modified at all to make it faster. If you have already purchased a Jet Ski and discovered that the previous owner made modifications that you don’t like, you can always undo their changes with a few new parts.

In the end, remember to use good judgement when riding your Jet Ski. Though modifications to soup-up the top speed of your Jet Ski are incredibly fun, modifications may not always be appropriate for brand new and inexperienced riders.