Where personal watercraft magazines have failed to do since the collapse of the last of the print titles (ie. Personal Watercraft Illustrated in 2010), is re-establish a social tone, a sense of style to the sport that was so prevalent during the 1980s and 1990s. The handful of print publications competing for supremacy had a task at hand, and that was to showcase the sport in the most attractive way possible. And as we reflect upon history, few did it better than Splash Magazine.
Helmed by Clark Emery, Splash not only provided readers with exciting event coverage but a litany of useful tech, trick tips, interviews with tuners, riders and developers, custom ski showcases and lots and lots of girls. To the layman, Splash made you feel like you were seriously missing out if you weren’t part of the party. It’s easy to see why so many remember Splash over any other title from those days.
The stellar crew at Vintage Jet Ski wanted to acknowledge the contribution Emery and Splash made to the sport by celebrating it via its own photo gallery on their ever-popular Facebook page. VJS even reached out to Emery who provided a quick reflection on his time there.
We strongly recommend that you peruse the pics, read the captions and comments. You’ll be impressed with what you see. Here’s how it went down in Clark Emery’s own words:
I feel fortunate to be the Editor of Splash during the Vintage Jet Ski era. I was around 25 then, had been in the magazine business for a few years. I was ready to kick some butt. My career and success were important to me.
I was a ruthless little SOB of a competitor. The best example of this is what made Splash a hit around the world in the first place: cool images. I always had first pick of all the top photographer’s photos. After picking the best shots, I would often hold on to everyone’s pics a week or two, just long enough to make the competing magazines run my picked over images a month later than Splash.
But any mention of the Vintage Jet Ski era has to include Tom Kerker. I practically dragged Tom into the business. After knowing him a very short time, I realized magazine skills or not, he would be my perfect partner in crime. Tom had real world Jet Ski credibility, which is something myself and all the other magazines lacked at the time. Tom had to learn to type, work in an office and deal with me as a boss. We soon developed a friendly little creative photo competition which also helped sell a few magazines as well.
The end of Splash, like my decision to leave the magazine business is not very cool or romantic. And they were caused by the same thing. McMullen & Yee, our once mighty Automotive Publishing company ended up getting sold when both owners suddenly died within six months of each other.
In short order, our company was purchased by some Jackwagon publishing company. There were all kinds of suits walking around, trying to prove their worth. Splash was killed by some accountant who probably never even looked at the magazine.
About 10 years later, after sitting at the helm of many successful magazines, one day I realized I didn’t have another “Mission Statement” or Editorial Calendar inside of me. I left. Just went home. And never came back.