PWC Planing Speed & Cornering:

When PW riding was all about stand-ups, the teaching was heavily weighted towards body position. Nowadays the market is dominated by sit-down PWs and this seems to have been forgotten. PW riding is classi ed as a sport, so let’s get our students to stop sofa-riding. This will not only improve their riding ability and help them get the most out of the craft, but it will also add some more energy!

How to do it:

start the student with some practice runs where they are just on the plane (around 16-18 knots).

Instruct them to:

Start the turn earlier than they think they need to and get a feel for how much the PW slides.

Start wide, turn early and aim

to finish their turn adjacent to the buoy. This will put them in the best possible position to

go straight into their next turn (slalom course) or put on some more power for the straight (box course).

Once your student is feeling more con dent; ask them to try

Ease, Drop and Squeeze.

Ease the power which will drop more bow in the water.

Drop their body position aggressively into the turn.

Squeeze the throttle back on to power through and exit.

Top tips:

»  Plant a foot towards the rear of the outside footwell to keep the stern locked in. This reduces slide.

»  Brace your legs, squeeze them in against the seat and brace the outside foot against the edge of the footwell for extra leverage.

»  If the PW has trim control, trim down for the turn and then trim up as you enter the straight for maximum speed (box course).

Advice to pillion riders:

Sit close to the helm to reduce the amount of movement and bumping into him/her.

Mimic the helm’s body position to help with the turn.


Reduce the risks:

Students instinctively want to stand and pull their arms in a brace position, which results in two primary risks;

1. Having your arms pulled in and down brings your face closer to the handlebars than necessary. When you hit waves or a wake the PW will bounce, making it likely to impact your face.

To avoid impact and ensure they are positioned a reasonable distance from the handlebars, ask your student to check they can see both their elbows in their peripheral vision at all times without needing to move their head.

2. Hitting waves or a wake when in a standing position is likely to mean you will be pushed forward on the bounce, causing impact on the handlebars with your chest, stomach or face. At the very least this will cause discomfort or winding.

Advise your students to hover with their buttocks about 3cm above the seat. Their shoulders, hips, knees and ankles will then absorb any bumps without losing core body stability or grip. Encourage them to grip with their knees rather than relying on their hands, which will fatigue more quickly. The end result is protecting your back/ spine from impact without risking losing control of your body position. As an instructor, if you can see the sky between your student’s buttocks and the seat, they are too high! 

Example Box Course Session:

Course Layout: Box

Briefing: Items detailed above + distance to maintain between PWC, speed (approx 18 knots), hand signals etc

  • 1) Demonstration
  • 2a) Planing straights, slow corners 
  • 2b) Debrief
  • 3a) Planing straights, wide planing corners
  • 3b) Debrief
  • 4a) Planing straights, planing tight corners
  • 4b) Debrief

Example Slalom Course Session:

Course Layout: M- shape

Safety: 1 PWC on course at any time


  • 1) Demonstrate at sub-planing speed to show direction around course
  • 2a) Practice run
  • 2b) Debrief
  • 3a) Practice run
  • 3b) Debrief
  • 4) Optional time trial run