Most jet ski owners understand the functions of a jet ski, but very few know about the sponson. A sponson is as crucial as the fin or keel in boats. It helps in the jet skis’ movement, stability, and performance.
But do jet skis have sponsons and do they work?
Jet ski sponsons do work, they are plastic or metal fins attached to the PWC on both sides to prevent lateral drift and provide better traction. Sponsons are made in an adjustable way, so any owner can make simple customization to suit them based on experience and riding style.
What Do Sponsons Do On A Jet Ski?
The concept of sponson emerged in the watersports market back in the early 90s as an attempt to improve the handling of the jet ski. The first sponson made for better handling was introduced on the Sea-Doo GT Series in 1993. It had a curved design and provided more hull stability and better traction.
The biggest problem with fast-paced PWCs was that they tended to bounce up and down in the water. So, people devised customized sponsons for better performance in competitive jet skiing.
Sponsons allowed the jet ski to have an added lift on the back and give the much-needed traction when taking corners at high speed. It immensely reduced the chances of a jet ski overturning during those turns.
How Does Sponson Design Affect A Jet Ski?
The design of sponsons has changed over the years, and designers are still looking for adjustments in future sponsons.
Sea-Doo started experimenting with the sponson after the first release in the 80s as they brought in a curved version a few years later. Kawasaki has two basic sponson designs; parabolic and symmetrical.
The curved design is more common as it provides more lift on the PWC. It has a hooked wing turned down in a way it displaces water backward. On the other hand, symmetrical sponsons look like blocks bolted on the rear side of the hull. They were mainly built to prevent porpoising and add lift.
Inflatable sponsons impact the function of a jet ski as they provide more buoyancy and safety. ‘Normal’ sponsons are smaller and firmer than the inflatable versions. Plus, they are mainly bolted on the rear hull of the jet ski.
Rear Vs. Front Sponsons
The first models of sponsons were placed in the rear part of the hull, but since then, there have been models fitted in front of the jet ski. Though efficient, the rear sponsons had blocky fins and sometimes were too heavy for the jet ski.
We have seen several modifications on rear sponsons, and the units are now mostly placed at the rear bond rail of the watercraft.
Forward sponsons are a bit modern but have hit the market pretty well. When fitted, they remain above water and only become active when the jet ski rolls. The forward sponsons provide better stability at high speeds and prevent drag during these speeds.
Aftermarket Jet Ski Sponson Kits
Nowadays, all jet skis come with factory-manufactured sponsons, although there are aftermarket replacement kits.
Stock jet ski sponsons are made to increase traction and better stability during rides. But if you’re in a competitive space, you want to make turns at high speeds without toppling over. If you’re looking for this type of handling, you may want to consider aftermarket sponson kits.
The aftermarket sponsons allow you to buy according to particular needs or riding situations. They are made of high-quality, durable materials and are adjustable depending on how you want the PWC to ride.
An extra pair of aftermarket sponsons will cost you from $15 to $400. A company like WORX sells plenty of universal sponson kits online suitable for many brands like Kawasaki, Yamaha, Sea-Doo, etc.
Homemade Jet Ski Sponsons
Let’s face it, sponsons are not cheap, and they can go up to $500 for an advanced model. But if you’re tight on money, you can make custom sponsons for yourself!
DIY jet ski sponsons are made using everyday materials such as cutting boards or high-density plastic. You can use ½-inch cutting boards and make a pair of plates to support the jet ski. Avoid bolting the plates directly to the jet ski as it can destroy its material.
You can always brainstorm some ideas online and check performance kits.
How To Install Jet Ski Sponsons
The most significant advantage of aftermarket sponsons is that they perfectly fit in place of the brand units. That said, it is easy to install jet ski sponsons.
To install a jet ski sponson;
- Bolt them to the hull of the jet ski. Do not drill any extra holes and use the ones in the stock sponson.
- Tighten the bolts properly to keep them intact while in contact with water.
- Apply silicone to the drilled holes to prevent water leaks
- Read the installation manual and cross-check every step
It is crucial to note that fitting sponsons is a measure of adding safety to your jet ski, and it should be done with care. However, a sponson may not help if the PWC loses power- you lose steerability, which the sponson has no control over.
Jet ski sponsons are small boards fitted on the jet ski’s hull. They allow direct steering and stability while moving at high speeds. It is a no-brainer that sponsons make a big difference in handling and most jet skis without them have a higher chance of overturning.
Sponsons enable PWC to accelerate smoothly from a standing position as they give an extra lift. The lift reduces the total energy needed to push forward the jet ski, hence the smooth acceleration.
Honestly, there is no reason why a jet ski shouldn’t have a sponson. Plus, if you’re into water sports, you should definitely look at how sponsons improve the speed, maneuverability, and control of jet skis.
If you’re a recreational jet ski rider who enjoys riding on calm waters and cruising during vacations, you may not need a sponson after all.