The PowerSki JetBoard - EXTREME watersports
By Mike Hanlon
March 27, 2005
March 28, 2005 One of the most radical water toys ever invented, the PowerSkiJetBoard is an engineering masterpiece - the inventors have taken the form factor of a surfboard and built in an ingenuously small and flat 45 horsepower motor capable of propelling it to 40 mph. With the rear thrust, rail and the three fins beneath, the JetBoard carves better than anything else on water, tarmac or snow, generating G-forces up to 6G and enabling the rider to get almost horizontal (check the pics inside). The JetBoard never cavitates or slides out, enabling a standing rider to perform continuous, stable, high speed turns with slight shifts in weight.
With incredible manoeuvrability and immense power, the JetBoard is not just applicable to flat water - it has the speed to use waves in both directions - from getting massive air off small to moderate surf, all the way up to positioning yourself anywhere you want on the wall of monster reef surf. And of course, the JetBoard offers transportation to the reef, something you often can't contemplate when paddling is involved and reefs are often miles from the nearest accessible land.
Transporting the JetBoard
The length of the JetBoard is 100 inches (2.54 metres) and fits neatly into a small truck, SUV or racks on top of any car. With such modest dimensions, the JetBoard requires no special towing vehicles, trailers or anything like that. And unlike a Jet Ski, one able-bodied human can get the JetBoard from transport to the water. On top of that, if you want help, excellent results have been had with a set of Roleez wheels, meaning that like surfing, you can throw the JetBoard in the back and do it on your own.
Riding the JetBoard
Balance is maintained by gripping the JetBoard's handle connected to the nose of the board via a four-foot long semi-flexible arm. The handle incorporates the start/stop buttons, thumb throttle, and safety kill switch and the shape is scientifically engineered with finger grooves to prevent hand and wrist fatigue.
Experiencing the G-Force of the JetBoard is the most satisfying aspect of the ride. No matter how hard to rider leans into a turn the JetBoard never cavitates or slides, offering a carve as extreme as anything you'll experience in any sport like surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding or skiing. The rail and fins grab and slice a turn. The feeling is very close to a big wave turn or waterski/wakeboard cutting behind the boat at full power.
Similarly, the JetBoard gets more air than anything you can imagine. You can jump to your heart's content, from a gentle swell or wake through to charging a monster wave .
Wave riding (surfing) has only begun to be experimented with. It is the philosophy of PowerSki International not to see this craft competing with surfers, but used to get to "outer breaks' and reef breaks not easily accessible by the general public.
Although the JetBoard allows surfing on any flat body of water, those that take it into the surf will experience something entirely different. Just as windsurfers bring a new alternative power to the sport of wave riding, so too does the JetBoard, only the power is entirely at your command. Offering the ability to position one's self anywhere on the face of a wave or accelerate into or out of the break, the JetBoard is a new experience for experienced surfers and novices alike.
Development of the JetBoard
The JetBoard has been a long time in coming and is the brainchild of PSI founder Bob Montgomery. Montgomery had the most successful Kawasaki jet ski dealership in the world during the infancy of the jet ski market and went on to develop a number of personal watercraft before envisioning the JetBoard in 1987 as an entirely new and conceptually different personal water craft with the surfboard's sideways stance and contour, ease of operation and performance.
After developing the JetBoard to the working prototype pre-production stage, Bob formed PowerSki International in 1995 and things have progressed through prototype development, the distribution of over 100 pre-production prototypes to potential distributors around the world for evaluation and testing, the incorporation of that feedback into the final production-ready prototype and finally to volume production.
The wait has been worthwhile. Whereas the cost to manufacture the prototypes was more than US$15,000 each, and they came with just 25 horsepower, now volume production has commenced the efficiencies mean that the JetBoard can be purchased for US$6995 with 45 horses and there's the promise of larger versions of the two-stroke engine as large as 600cc and perhaps even a four stroke version of the same concept.
Sheer unadulterated ingenuity
Whilst this new water-toy enables many water-based activities not previously possible, it's greatest claim to fame for many will be the ingenuity of the design.
Power Ski International, the creators of the JetBoard, have used myriad technologies in creating this jet-powered surfboard. PSI's patented two-stroke, water-cooled engine built specifically for the JetBoard puts out 45 horsepower but it's the size and shape they have created that enables the JetBoard to do its stuff.
The single cylinder 330cc engine is just 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) tall by 10 inches (25.4 cm) wide by 17 inches long (43 cm) and weighs just 45 lb (20 kg) - think about those numbers for a moment - the internal combustion engine has been around a long time, but never has it had to be flattened to such a degree to accomplish its purpose. Go get a desktop ruler and wonder how an engine just six inches tall can produce 45 horses, and how much acceleration that offers when the entire JetBoard weighs just 75 kilograms (165lbs). The JetBoard produces 350lb of thrust.
There were many other challenges in designing the production JetBoard such as the 4.5 foot patent pending flex gas tank which had to be installed into a 2.5 foot engine compartment with a reserve tank. The final gas tank volume is a surprisingly large 10 litres with a two litre reserve, enough for four hours of hard running.
Running a motor that's often underwater had its challenges too. At standstill, with the rider sitting atop and the engine dead, the JetBoard is 75% submerged - hardly conducive to longevity of all those complex internals. This design challenge was met with a state-of-the-art inflatable sealing system similar to that used in F18 aircraft, spacecraft and sub-marines and this prevents water intrusion into the engine compartment.
Another design challenge was to route the high performance "expansion chamber" two-stroke exhaust system within the body of the JetBoard and to couple it with a one-way valve water box silencer system that prevents water from flowing into the engine.
Find your nearest JetBoard distributor/reseller here.