In looking back over 2022, the world of jet ski racing was pummeled by two deaths and several injuries that could’ve have been if not wholly avoidable, possibly assuaged. The PWC community mourned the loss of Eric Francis and Sung Won Kim this year, and left many contemplating how, if possible, such tragedies could be prevented.
This led many to begin voicing suggestions and recommendations that could be made to increase racer safety. This author even dedicated over a hour of The Watercraft Journal’s weekly live podcast to this topic providing a short list of basic safety equipment requirements as “low hanging fruit” offerings. While the entire podcast is linked below, here’s an abbreviated list:
- DOT/SNELL helmets aren’t enough. MIPS and/or LS2 rated helmets
- Lifeline/ballistics-style racing life vests
- Leatt neck braces or padded “donut” neck braces
- Back braces/back guards/bracing garments
- Full length legs wetsuits/johns; no shorts
- Boots and gloves; no tennis shoes, barefoot
While our podcast was circulated through some inner circles of the personal watercraft industry and among some racers, it does not serve as the end-all of this conversation (nor should it). Thankfully, the IJSBA board members, which are primarily OEM manufacturers, are equally concerned for rider safety and have asked that participants submit safety recommendations to [email protected]
Equally, the IJSBA is interested in racers submit any suggested rule changes separate from these safety recommendations as they are, in most aspects, separate topics to be addressed. The IJSBA provides a detailed step-by-step guide for submitting such changes to the 2023 rule book that should be followed. Any positive change must begin somewhere and this is a good step in the right direction.