Personal watercraft -- often referred to as "jet skis," although that is a trademark of Kawasaki -- have been getting faster and more capable. Personal watercraft may not have the horsepower to match the top speeds of larger boats, but advancing technology and newer modification's have raised the bar significantly.
This HSR-Benelli Series-R produced the fastest time ever recorded for a personal watercraft: about 92 miles per hour. This racing edition craft is powered by a 342-horsepower V-6 engine. Along with this powerful engine, two 1130cc three-cylinder engines -- the same engines used in the Benelli Tornado 1130 Superbike -- are fused into the system. This craft is a handful and is rarely seen on the water.
Typical Top Speeds
The personal watercraft you're likely to see on the water top out at around 65mph. Typical models range from 150 to 200 horsepower. As seen with the HSR-Benelli Series-R, the more horsepower generated by the engine, the faster the watercraft.
What Makes the Difference?
The biggest factor in determining top speed is the engine's horsepower. But other factors come into play, too: engine torque, engine thrust, the shape of the hull, and the intake and exhaust system. A good combination of these components will make for exceptional tops speeds, such as those produced by certain Seadoo and Kawasaki models.
Kawasaki and Seadoo have built reputations for having some of the fastest models on the market. The fastest traditional-engine watercraft are the Seadoo RXP models, with average top speeds over 70mph. Among the fastest in the class is the RXP-X 255. Equipped with a 255-horsepower engine, this jet ski can accelerate from 0 to 55mph in just 2.9 seconds.
Multiple Kawasaki models can be compared to Seadoo's RXP models, most significantly the Ultra series. The Ultra X, LX, and 260 LX all use a 1498cc engine to achieve a top speed of about 70mph, similar to the Seadoo RXP. Also impressive: the Kawasaki STX and STX-15F, with an engine similar to the Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle model.