Wanna go race Jet Skis? Whether you’re thinking about running stand ups, sit downs, closed course, off shore or drag racing — there’s 5 things EVERY rider needs to get into racing.
1. A USCG APPROVED LIFE VEST
This one is non-negotiable, all sanctioning bodies require that you wear a U.S. Coast Guard Approved life vest any time you are on the water or race track.
If a life jacket is USCG approved, it will be labeled clearly somewhere on the inside of the vest. A USCG approved vest has been tested and rated to safely keep you afloat.
Brands like quakysense, Jet Pilot, Jettribe and Slippery are popular among Jet Ski racers for both life vests and wet suits. While wet suits aren’t required, they’re definitely recommended as an extra layer of protection for your body. Other protective gear items we recommend are gloves, goggles, and shoes. While not required, these will make your riding experience a little more comfortable, and give you some extra protection.
2. A DOT/SNELL APPROVED HELMET
You won’t want to hit the track without it! A helmet is a necessity to keep your head safe. Whether you’re taking yourself out or other riders are using you as a buoy, all sanctioning bodies require a full-face helmet.
While there are not currently any “Jet Ski helmets” available, most riders are using full face motocross helmets. Most closed course riders also keep the visors on, while off shore and freestyle riders prefer to ride without a visor.
Companies like Fox Racing, Airoh, Alpinestars, Fly Racing and Bell Helmets are popular with most riders. If the helmet is DOT/SNELL approved, it will be labeled with a sticker on the helmet.
3. A BACK BRACE
In the last few years, back braces have become a requirement at most Jet Ski racing events. A back brace will protect your upper and lower back from any impact that may occur. Most often, a motocross or street bike back protector will work. You can pick one up from your local motorcycle gear shop. Jettribe also makes one that will go over your life vest.
Back brace location has no specific rule. You can wear it outside or over your life vest, or underneath it. It just depends on your preference.
Neck braces are not required, but are often recommended if you race sit-downs or runabouts. These skis can go extremely fast and in the event that you might fall off, the extra protection might help.
4. A TOW LOOP
A tow loop is needed in case you disconnect from your ski or if you have a mechanical failure. The tow loop attaches to the front of your ski (usually the bow eye) and allows the course marshal to get a hold of and tow your ski if necessary. If you’re not sure what a tow loop looks like, or where to find one, check out the tow loops we have available on our website, we have the classic tow loop and the bow eye tow loop.
5. A LANYARD/KILL SWITCH
When you show up for your first race, you’ll have to go through a tech inspection. Pre-race tech inspection is usually focused on safety. One of the most important pieces of safety for a Jet Ski race involves your lanyard and kill switch. The tech inspector will ask you to start your ski up and release the lanyard, showing them whether or not your ski will die.
If you disconnect from your ski while racing you want the ski to shut off. This keeps your ski from idling or driving around the track without you, keeping other riders safe. If you are unsure if your ski is ready to go, ask to talk to the tech inspector at the event.
Showing up for your first event can be a little intimidating, but if you show up with these 5 things ready, you’ll be more prepared than most. If you are looking for an event to attend, check out our 2022 Ride Guide. If you have any other questions about what you need to have ready for your first race, be sure to check out the event website or social media page, or reach out to the staff directly for the most accurate answer.