Facts About PWC
What is a PWC?
The official definition of a personal watercraft varies from state to state, but they are generally recognized as a vessel which uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power, and which is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel, rather than the conventional manner of sitting or standing in the vessel. PWCs are manufactured by Bombardier (Sea-Doo®), Honda (AquaTrax®), Kawasaki (JET SKI®), and Yamaha (WaveRunner®).
Who rides personal watercraft?
Many people are surprised to learn that 99 percent of all personal watercraft sold today are multi-passenger vessels, with three-seat models making up the vast majority of sales. These are family vessels, purchased by families who want to spend a day together on the water, and have found PWC to be affordable, approachable, and easy to store, transport, and maintain. The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment 2000, coordinated by the USDA Forest Service, reports that 20 million Americans enjoy PWC each year.
How many PWC are there?
The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports that 80,200 PWC were sold in the U.S. in 2005, with an average price of $9,495. The majority of all PWC sold today include new-technology 4-stroke engines. NMMA estimates that in 2005, there were approximately 1.55 million PWC in use in the U.S.
What about PWC emissions?
Some anti-access groups cite a study that compared an unregulated old-technology PWC with a regulated 1998 model car, which is an apples to oranges comparison. The fact is, with the introduction of “new-technology” engine improvements such as catalysts, direct injection, and four-strokes, marine engine manufacturers have achieved up to a 90 percent reduction in hydrocarbon and NOx emissions in a matter of years, as opposed to the decades it took the automobile industry to achieve the same reductions.
New technology enabled PWC models to meet EPA*rsquo;s 2006 marine engine standards years ahead of schedule; they are among the most environmentally friendly motorboats on the water today. All PWC manufacturers offer personal watercraft with four-stroke engines.
Lake Tahoe — which has the strictest environmental requirements in the country — welcomes the use of more than 30 models of direct-injection and four-stroke personal watercraft because they are uniquely environmentally friendly.
How is the safety record of PWCs?
According to U.S. Coast Guard figures, more than 99 percent of PWCs are enjoyed accident-free every year. A 2002 report published by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the NOAA Coastal Services Center concludes, “there is little data or evidence to suggest that PWC are inherently more dangerous than other recreational vessels.”
The Personal Watercraft Consumer
Today’s personal watercraft are affordable family boats with clean, quiet, fuel-efficient engines and no exposed propellers. Manufacturers have responded to customers’ desire for environmentally-friendly recreation, and have created cleaner, quieter and more versatile personal watercraft.
Additionally, PWC manufacturers have focused their new model designs on today’s consumer base — families — thus, continuing to perfect and produce more of the three-person models. These models now account for more than 75 percent of today’s PWC market. Data from a few years ago shows that:
- the average purchaser of a new PWC is 41 years old.
- About 85 percent are male,
- 71 percent are married,
- 69 percent have owned a powerboat prior to their most recent PWC purchase,
- 66 percent have taken or completed college-level course work.
- Forty-two percent of those PWC owners have owned waterfront property, and
- over 60 percent have access to a home on the water, whether it is their primary home or the home of a close friend or relative.
Today’s consumer is likely more diverse with the broader selection of models currently available, which appeal to many different people.
In 2001, Leisure Trends Group, a national consumer research firm, surveyed consumer attitudes towards personal watercraft. Ninety-three percent of the respondents had positive attitudes towards the safety of personal watercraft, particularly if the vessels were operated properly.
Surveys have also found that the most common ways PWC are used (over 80 percent) involve rides with family and friends, short cruises, towing skiers, exploring, and entertaining friends.