Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Jetskiers, the boy racers of the sea

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Jet skiers, love or loathe them? Photo / Thinkstock
Jet skiers, love or loathe them? Photo / Thinkstock

A man was recently arrested after several beach-goers called the police to complain that "he repeatedly drove his jetski close to the shore and among swimmers at a popular bay north of Auckland." Thanks to the swift action of responsible citizens this thoughtless behaviour was curtailed before it had the chance to develop into an accident or even a fatality.

My response to jetskiers in the immediate vicinity isn't so public spirited. I simply order my child and whatever other children I happen to be supervising out of the water whenever I hear the distinctive whining of a jetski engine. All too often the riders speed parallel to the beach and well inside the lawful 200-metre distance from the shoreline and they're prone to turning in towards the shallows at any moment.

There wouldn't be many swimmers or body-boarders who feel safe in the face of such dangerous and unpredictable patterns of behaviour. My policy of vacating the ocean until the threat has passed isn't overly inconvenient.

Jetskiers have short attention spans; they're not usually harassing swimmers for too long.

The typical demographic of the rider is a key reason for my mistrust of jetskiers. You can pretty much bank on the fact that any jetski rider motoring close to swimmers and endangering members of the public will be a young man. I knew this from experience but it was also reported in Jetski victim's family in safety campaign that "[m]ost incidents involved men aged 17 to 30".

Young men, of course, are not widely known for considering the consequences of their actions. They're the last people you want near you while they're in charge of a high-powered marine vehicle. These concerns are only magnified when you take into account the fact that "[a] young woman reaches full maturity, in terms of brain development, between 21 and 22 years of age. A young man does not reach full maturity, in terms of brain development, until nearly "30 years of age." This is worrying information indeed, since the lawful age for being in charge of a jetski is 15 across the board and no allowance is made for the different developmental stages between the genders.

The sheer purposelessness of jetskis is another red flag. They're an expensive toy with a powerful motor that could seriously injure someone yet they appear to have little reason for existing. Furthermore, little skill is required to operate them. And, because jetskis are largely pointless sometimes two or three jetskiers frolic in a group, perhaps chasing each other or playing some ill-advised game of chicken - thereby endangering themselves as well as innocent swimmers.

Riding a jetski is the marine equivalent of hanging out at the mall. It's an aimless activity reserved for people with nothing better to do - for people without the imagination, enthusiasm or skill set required to participate in one of the dozens of bona fide recreational activities (that don't negatively impact other people) on offer during a New Zealand summer.

The engine noise alone is reason enough to loathe them; it's certainly not conducive to a relaxing day at the beach. But, by all accounts, jetski ownership is increasing and authorities predict an accompanying rise in the number of near misses and accidents. So watch out: jetskis are poised to infiltrate a beach near you. At the very least they'll shatter the peace but evidence suggests that in the wrong hands they're also an accident waiting to happen.

What's your view on jetskis? Do you love them or loathe them? What measures do you take to stay safe when they're in the vicinity?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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