Time Running Out On Stand-Up PWC?

Stand-up personal watercraft (PWC) may soon no longer be for sale to the public due to emissions laws going into effect in 2012.

3rd May 2010.
By Jeff Hemmel

I spent this past weekend at the South Florida PWC & Sport Boat Show. In the course of a gazillion conversations with industry types, I had one that brought to mind a coming reality that I had kind of forgotten about — namely, stand-up PWC may soon no longer be for sale to the public.

More on that in a minute…first, this reminder of just why stand-ups are cool.

So back to the story. Yup, the type of vehicle that arguably started this whole craze way back in the early ’70s might be history, at least as far as the opportunity to buy a new model past 2011. Why? The reason lies in the various emissions regulations put forth by both the Environmental Protection Agency and state organizations like the California Air Resources Board. To cut right to the chase, new rules go into effect in 2012 that will prevent the sale of two-stroke PWC engines. Residents of California and New York have already gotten use to the idea that they can’t buy a two-stroke PWC within the state’s borders. Soon, the rest of the country will follow suit.

Sure, you might still find some for sale. According to Yamaha’s Scott Watkins, some craft will still be sold as “competition-only” vehicles, meaning a select number (racers and freestyle competitors mostly) might be able to buy them, but you won’t be able to register them or legally use them on public waterways. That means the next model year (2011) just may be the stand-up’s swan song.

I started with a stand-up, a Jet Ski 400 way back in the mid ’70s. Over the years I’ve ridden numerous Kawasaki 550s, a Yamaha FX-1, SuperJet, and the latest Kawasaki 800 SX-R. And I can tell you it will be one depressing day if it truly comes to fruition that the last model rolls off the assembly line next year.

Yes, existing models will be grandfathered in, but the time for stand-up production looks like it’s coming to an end, at least from Yamaha and Kawasaki. Think they’ll come out with a four-stroke in time to save it? Or is this truly the end of an era?

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About the author:

Jeff Hemmel

Jeff Hemmel writes for boats.com, Boating, PersonalWatercraft.com, and Powersports Business. The former Senior Editor at Watercraft World, Jeff is a multi-time award winner as well as a 2008 inductee into the IJSBA Hall of Fame. His first book, "The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon...and 101 Other Things For Young Mariners To Try, Do, & Build On the Water," received a bronze medal in the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. For more info, visit Jeff Hemmel's website.

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