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This page outlines the history of WaveRunner.

History of the WaveRunner (PWC, MarineJet)

(As this is a historical presentation, these pages contain photographs of products that differ from current safety standards. Visit for proper riding styles. Always read your owner's manual before using the WaveRunner and be sure to use it properly.)

More fun, greater manuverability

The WaveRunner 500 (Marine Jet 500T) – delighting marine fans world-wide. Development sprung from the challenge to create a craft that offered "Accessible fun on the water for all" The challenge to create a craft that offered

Developing the Marine Jet: Staking everything on the future

The WaveRunner 500 (Marine Jet 500T) (Fig. 1) launched by Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. in 1986 has come to represent the personal water craft (PWC) class, appreciated by marine fans for the easy control from a sitting position and excellent maneuverability.

WaveRunner 500
Fig. 1
The history of the aquatic motorcycle, called the PWC, is relatively long, with a vehicle that could be called the PWC point of origin shown in a French patent magazine some time around 1930. A range of aquatic vehicles were invented in the U.S. between 1954 and 1960, and in 1974 the PWC was launched on the market, but it would be some time before it was thoroughly established as a leisure vehicle.
In the late 1970s a great variety of these kinds of reduced-size small boats and motorized surfboards that had been manufactured overseas began to appear on waters in Japan. And then in 1980 the establishment of the legal framework was set in motion, albeit gradual, with promulgation of the "Special standard for aquatic motorcycles" regulating water craft.
Since then, Yamaha has been at the center of a wide range of industry efforts, supporting development of marine leisure related laws and conducting safety and educational initiatives as part of our role as a manufacturer of all things marine related. Our engineers at Yamaha played a central role in safety-related performance testing for the formulation of this "Special standard for aquatic motorcycles", and it goes without saying that the engineers became captivated by this new craft for roving freely on the water. It was then that they had a vision of designing an original PWC themselves one day. Perhaps it could even be said that this was the moment that the key concept for the WaveRunner (Marine Jet), "a craft offering safe, accessible fun on the water for all" was born.
At the time, the size of the domestic PWC market was only about 100 craft a year, and as a business opportunity it was an unknown quantity.  However, the people in charge of the project convinced the company to take a chance on the future of the craft. In 1983 they received permission to develop a PWC, and began the commercialization project.

From Power Ski to Marine Jet Development

While Yamaha had been steadily accumulating technological expertise in the areas of boat design and construction since 1960, the conceptual focus for the design of the WaveRunner (Marine Jet) differed to that of existing models.  The method adopted for the design and manufacturing process was therefore a repetition of the following steps: prototype creation, trials and verification.
At that time, a variety of models were tested as prototypes, but it was the power ski (Fig. 2) with its outstandingly high maneuverability, that was selected for presentation in the U.S. This power ski, with its boat shaped hull, was equipped with a 25- horsepower engine manufactured by Yamaha and a 15-horsepower jet pump produced by another company. Because the power ski with its simple handlebar steering control had ski-like agility and had performed favorably in trials carried out on Lake Hamana, those involved had great expectations for it as a new-genre product.

The power ski
Fig. 2
The power ski: A boat-shaped hull fitted with an engine. The key feature was quick turns enabled by ski-like agility.
Unfortunately however, the American test rider for the presentation was over 100 kg and 1.8 m tall, and was not even able to get on the board. Even before the performance of the power-ski had been evaluated, a large question mark had already been drawn over the marketability of a power ski designed, as it were, for a Japanese body shape.
Based on this experience, the designers threw themselves into product development with the concept of a totally new craft which could be navigated "more safely, more enjoyably, and was responsive".  Development of tandem-seated types progressed having picked up the idea at the U.S. trial-ride (Fig. 2, Fig. 3, and Fig. 4).  Demonstrated at the 2nd presentation held the following year, these models captured the hearts of the test riders.
WR 500 Prototypes
Fig. 2
WR 500 Prototypes
Testing the tandem model prototype.
Fig. 3
Testing the tandem model prototype. Both stability and maneuverability were achieved with a shallow V-shaped , double chine hull.
Fig. 4
Test-run of MJ-500T (foreground) and MJ-500S (background)
The PWC became an overnight marine leisure trend with the event of the WaveRunner (Marine Jet) that made riding fun accessible for all.
The world's first seated tandem type was unveiled at the Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show in 1986 (Fig. 5).  This was followed by the domestic release of the MJ-500T (WaveRunner) in November of the same year, and a January 1987 unveiling of the single-seater MJ-500S (Wave Jammer), which had the same inimitable maneuverability.
28th Chicago Boat Show
Fig. 5
Scene from the Exhibit at the 28th Chicago Boat Show

A Craft Offering Accessible Fun on the Water for All

The WaveRunner (Marine Jet), "A craft offering accessible fun on the water for all" was a conceptual departure from existing PWCs, and one that was well received by marine fans, both in Japan and also on the world stage. The features of the MJ-500T – ease of control from a seated position and high maneuverability that enabled tandem riding – were features that were practically synonymous with the WaveRunner (Marine Jet) of the time. The MJ-650 series that followed was developed based on these two MJ-500 models, but of this series it was the world's first three-seater model, the MJ-650TL, that gained the most popularity. This model was designed to enable three people to experience the same level of performance as a solo rider, with no loss of control characteristics, maneuverability, or exhilaration. The design concept – "A water vehicle offering light-hearted fun on the water for everyone" – provided the impetus to design the large-sized WaveRunner (Marine Jet) that captured the imagination of WaveRunner (Marine Jet) fans.

Fig. 5
Of the MJ-650 series released
It was around this time that the WaveRunner (Marine Jet) users began to form two distinct groups: the leisure users and those with a taste for racing.  The model base as we know it took shape at this point, with a line-up of performance models, such as TZ and GP (Fig. 6) aimed at the racing group, and luxury models such as the VN and XL for those who wanted to get the most out of their leisure hours.
Fig. 6
The GP1200 proved overwhelmingly popular as a runabout model that crossed over the racing and leisure genres. The updated GP1200R and GP1300R models have been refreshed with new technology such as Y.P.P.S. and Y.S.S.S. designed to reduce the environmental impact.
The size of the market has increased hand-in-hand with the enrichment of the domestic market lineup, and Yamaha have come up with a variety of initiatives to increase public awareness about Marine Jets and the different ways of enjoying the water.  These include the establishment of the "Marine Jet Club" for Marine Jet owners and the "Marine Jet Jamboree" events held for their benefit, and active involvement in safety education activities through the establishment of the PWC Safety Association. 
An important turning point in the up-sizing of the Marine Jet (Fig. 7) was the shift from a 2-stroke to a 4-stroke engine from 1995. In May 2002 Yamaha launched the world's first low-emission PWC featuring a 4-stroke engine: the FX-140.  The FX-140 was followed by 4-stroke updates of not only the WaveRunner (Marine Jet), but also the entire PWC range; 5 years later, in 2009, domestic runabout models all featured 4-stroke engines.
Fig. 7
With the release of the MJ-1100VN, the three-seater model in 1996, a great advance was made in the up-sizing of the WaveRunner (Marine Jet)
Almost a quarter of a century on from the first prototype, the WaveRunner (Marine Jet) has come to represent PWC craft. The potential for fun and enjoyment can only increase as the WaveRunner develops in new directions, building on the concept of "A craft offering accessible fun on the water for all"

(See the latest lineup.)

These small-hulled craft are driven by a jet-propulsion system and have a seat that you sit on like when riding a horse and an open stern that makes for easy mounting and dismounting on the water. These marine sport watercraft loved by people all over the world today were introduced by Yamaha in 1986 for the first time in the world. To this new type of watercraft that have no protruding parts on the bottom of the hull and are easily righted and ridden again should they happen to capsize, Yamaha applied its famous small-engine technology to make vehicles that are truly reliable, fun and functional. With its capability to run freely across great expanses of water, Yamaha named its revolutionary invention the WaveRunner, and it became a big hit product that let people experience a refreshingly exciting and fun form of sound marine recreation anyone can enjoy. Since their release, these WaveRunners have been continually refined and their popularity has spread to the point where they are now used in over 120 countries worldwide. Here is an outline of their history.

WaveRunner 500

WaveRunner 500 (Marine Jet 500T)

Yamaha released the WaveRunner 500 (Marine Jet 500T), the world's first sit-down type open stern production PWC. This is the model that created today's PWC market. As an agile craft that many people could enjoy with a sense of assurance, it sent shockwaves through the small watercraft industry.

WaveJammer 500

WaveJammer 500 (Marine Jet 500S)

The WaveJammer 500 (Marine Jet 500S) debuted as the world’s first sit-down type solo riding PWC. The combination of a fixed steering column and small hull made this an extremely agile model. Its concept would later be carried on by the WaveBlaster models.

WaveRunner III 650

WaveRunner III 650 (Marine Jet 650TL)

The WaveRunner III 650 (Marine Jet 650TL) was released as the world’s first 3-passenger PWC, featuring a larger hull and high-performance engine. With truly pleasurable running performance and great stability, it started a new rage and became the predecessor of the later family models. It became a standard that is still seen on the water today. Its reverse drive was also a first.

Super Jet 650

Super Jet 650

With the SuperJet 650, Yamaha made itself a presence in the stand-up model category.
The great balance of this model quickly spread the Super Jet name around the world, making the stand-up models accessible to more people.

WaveRunner VXR650

WaveRunner VXR650 (Marine Jet 650TX)

The WaveRunner VXR650 (Marine Jet 650TX) was released as the deluxe model of Yamaha's tandem series. While the same size as the initial WaveRunners, the adoption of a new concave hull design gave it sharper turning with reduced slipping.

WaveBlaster 700

WaveBlaster 700 (Marine Jet 700TZ)

The WaveBlaster 700 (Marine Jet 700TZ) made its debut. With a motorcycle-like ride that let riders enjoy sharply banked turns, combined with its powerful engine, this model won the hearts of sports-minded riders. At the races it dominated the sport class competition. This is a model that still has many devoted fans today.

WaveRaider 700

WaveRaider 700 (Marine Jet 700RA)

The WaveRaider 700 (Marine Jet 700RA) was released. PWCs entered a new era of speed racing, and runabout type models with "V" hulls became the standard.
In the same year, Yamaha also released the FX1 stand-up model.

WaveVenture 700

WaveVenture 700 (Marine Jet 700VN)

The full-sized 3-seater model WaveVenture 700 (Marine Jet 700VN) debuted. Because this was a model that beginners could ride with assurance even in fairly rough waters, it became a hit at beaches with PWC rentals. This year the WaveRaider was also upgraded with a 1100cc engine for the increasingly high-speed PWC scene.

WaveBlaster ||

WaveBlaster II

To help more people enjoy the fun of riding a PWC aggressively, the WaveBlaster II was released with a powerful 760cc engine and a hull designed for even greater stability.
The SuperJet was also upgraded with a 700cc engine.

GP 1200

WaveRunner GP 1200

The GP1200 was released as a runabout model with awesome performance. With the most powerful engine in the industry and a compact body designed for great agility, this model stole the hearts of riders who loved real speed riding.

XL 1200

WaveRunner XL 1200

The XL1200 debuted as Yamaha’s top model in the full-sized 3-seater category. It won popularity for its unbeatable combination of a powerful engine, a hull that delivered both great running performance and stability and contemporary styling. This model expanded the world of PWC sports to include touring, towing sports and family riding.

SUV 1200

WaveRunner SUV 1200
WaveRunner XL 1200 Ltd.

The SUV1200 debuted as the world’s first 4-passenger PWC. With stability like no PWC before it and handling freedom that belied its size, this model became an industry legend. It further expanded the world of PWC enjoyment to long-distance touring.
This same year, Yamaha also introduced the XL1200 Ltd. powered by the industry’s highest horsepower engine at 155 hp.

GP 1200R

WaveRunner GP 1200R

The GP1200R debuted with a 155 hp engine and newly designed hull and body. Its unsurpassed running performance and gorgeous design won it the crown as leader of the muscle craft. It quickly became the must-have machine for the performance-oriented rider.


WaveRunner XLT 1200

The XLT1200 debuted as a re-designed version of the XL1200 Ltd. with a completely new front look. This was a model that made many performance-minded customers look to the 3-seater category for the first time.


WaveRunner FX140

The FX140 was released as the world’s first 4-stroke engine PWC. Its smooth engine feeling, clean exhaust and great fuel economy revolutionized the world of PWCs. It also became popular for its new hull design that provides good stability even on rougher waters.

GP 1300R

WaveRunner GP 1300R

Raising the displacement of the highly-acclaimed 1200cc engine and adding fuel injection and a high-performance catalytic converter, Yamaha introduced the GP1300R as a revolutionary muscle craft that offered both performance and environmental friendliness. This model made Yamaha the leader in environment-friendly models in both 2- and 4-stroke PWCs. An FX Cruiser version of the FX140 with hip-support seats was also introduced.

FX Cruiser High Output

WaveRunner FX Cruiser High Output

The FX High Output and FX Cruiser High Output appeared with higher performance 4-stroke engines. With these models the much talked about 4-stroke models entered the high-performance arena. Yamaha 4-stroke models are now praised throughout the industry for their smooth-running engines, great reliability and outstanding hull performance.

VX Deluxe

WaveRunner VX Deluxe

The VX Sport and VX Deluxe are released with the aim of getting more customers to experience the wonderful performance of 4-stroke engine models by offering an irresistible combination of high quality and an affordable price. The engine is a masterpiece of engineering based on the proven high-performance 4-cylinder engine used on the FX High Output models. Combined with a new-design hull, this model opens new horizons for the PWC.

FX Cruiser High Output

WaveRunner FX Cruiser High Output
WaveRunner VX 700

The flagship model FX Cruiser High Output appears with improvements that further heighten its unique cruiser concept and a boldly impressive new colored hull. A number of new features like the sporty analog meter panel accentuate the new world of cruising pleasure this model offers the rider.

Also, as the successor to the popular XL700 that has been the craft of choice at PWC rental operations around the world, Yamaha presents the new model VX700. Mounting the proven, highly durable Yamaha 700 cc 2-stroke engine on VX hull, known for its exciting handling, this model sets a new standard in the entry-level model category.

VX Cruiser

WaveRunner VX Cruiser

To the worldwide best-selling VX series we add the new model VX Cruiser with a newly developed "Cruiser Seat." The excellent sense of fit that the riding position of the seat provides makes it possible to experience the fine handling performance of the VX hull even more fully.

FX Cruiser SHO
Super Jet

WaveRunner FX Cruiser SHO
WaveRunner SuperJet

Yamaha's flagship combines a 1.8 liter supercharged engine that is compact and yet the largest in the industry with a NanoXcel SMC body that is 25% lighter than earlier SMC hulls to carve out a new age of WaveRunner. It is loaded with electronic control functions such as cruise assist to aggressively add extra value as a cruiser model.

The SuperJet reigns as the byword for stand-up models. Yamaha has added a brand new hull with one aim—to give you the potential to win. This new high-performance hull reflects the ideal shape that top riders desire for sharp turns and neutral handling.

Wave Runner FZR
Wave Runner FX High Output

WaveRunner FZR
WaveRunner FX High Output

Yamaha invented the light, smooth-turning hull for the pursuit of sports riding. We coupled it with a 1.8 liter Supercharged engine to increase the excitement of riders on the water. Then we took stand-up riding position concepts and added revolutionary telescopic steering.

This model has a 1.8 liter Naturally Aspirated Engine. The large engine displacement creates superb high performance output with unmatched acceleration. At the same time, it achieves remarkable environmental performance with clean emission and low fuel-consumption. The FX High Output points the way to the future of PWCs.

WaveRunner VX Sport

WaveRunner VX Sport

The world's best-selling PWC since their debut in 2005, VX Series has been renewed for 2010. Yamaha has kept the industry's best fuel efficiency and the quality, and upgraded its premium look with newly designed deck and black hull. The VX Sport is the best machine to simply enjoy riding with excellent cost performance.

WaveRunner VXR

WaveRunner VXR

The VXR was first released using a VX hull which utilized the ultra lightweight material "NanoXcel" and was powered by a 1.8L High Output Engine. Out of all existing runabout models, the VXR laid claim to the lightest body in the industry.
This new package refines the speed and agility of the model even further. With the new VXR, riders are reminded of the true nature of sports riding.

WaveRunner VXR
WaveRunner VXR
WaveRunner VXR

WaveRunner FX Cruiser SHO
WaveRunner FX Cruiser HO
WaveRunner VX700S

The FX Cruiser SHO and FX Cruiser HO now come with an all-new body lineup. The remarkably lightweight and longer NanoXcel hull offers better handling and is able to deliver the most stable ride so far, while the instantly activated mechanical neutral enables the craft to start in place and move easily around built up areas. The craft’s Theater-Style Cruiser Seat is an invitation to a flawless 3 – passenger luxury riding experience.

The industry’s only 2 stroke runabout model with its 701cc engine is now the VX700S, with a VAR-MAX body. This significantly lighter body with revised weight balance has also achieved further improvements in agility, turning and acceleration performance.

2013 YAMAHA WAVERUNNER FX Cruiser SHO Impression

WaveRunner FX Cruiser SVHO
WaveRunner FX SVHO
WaveRunner FZS SVHO
WaveRunner FZR SVHO

WaveRunner FX Cruiser SVHO
WaveRunner FX SVHO
WaveRunner FZS SVHO
WaveRunner FZR SVHO

New for select Yamaha WaveRunners in 2014 is the race-ready Super Vortex High Output marine engine - the most technically-advanced motor ever designed for personal watercraft use and the most powerful engine ever in a Yamaha WaverRunner. The Yamaha Super Vortex High Output (SVHO) engine is a purpose-built 1.8L, four-stroke, four-cylinder supercharged and intercooled motor that advances the performance gains made possible by its predecessor, the Yamaha Super High Output (SHO) engine.
The FX series featuring this SVHO engine has succeeded in delivering a comfortable riding experience and premium feel thanks to its plentiful reserves of power. The FZ series provides thrills and Kando beyond the ordinary through its dominating acceleration and sharp turning ability.

SVHO SERIES Special site

(See the latest lineup.)

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