April 22, 2010

A Modest Proposal


I must say I was a bit surprised by the feisty tone in some of the comments on my last post. I guess, as a group, sailors and paddlers and swimmers and surfers are not ready to forgive jet skiers for former transgressions against humanity.

Apparently, some of us still feel jet skiers are a hopeless lot, with little chance of changing or redeeming themselves. So, if we can't convert them to righteous ways of sail, wave, or paddle power, how are we to rid ourselves of this pestilence?

I have been working on such a plan for some time now, and this may be an opportune moment to reveal it. My plan requires that sailors take no drastic action. The jet skiers would solve the problem for us entirely on their own. Their macho nature and competitive spirit would just help things along.

The plan begins with a sports event that has always puzzled me - the Olympic Biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and - of all things - riflery. Biathletes race around a course on skis, carrying a rifle, and stop several times at a shooting range where they aim at fixed targets. They're assessed time penalties in the race for targets they miss. And did you know that, while it's not an Olympic event, there's also a corresponding summer Biathlon that combines running with riflery? Both of these events seem kind of goofy to me and, well, out of touch with modern trends in sports.

What does this have to do with jet skiing? Well, I propose the Olympic Biathlon be moved to the summer Olympics and also be substantially updated. I would combine riflery with jet skiing instead of snow skiing. Competitors would negotiate a course on jet skis, much like a sailing race course, and would carry rifles that they would aim at targets at designated places along the course, just as in the current Biathlon.

But, hold on here, there's a twist that I think would turn this into an event that sailors, paddlers, swimmers, and surfers would cheer for.

Since it's hard to set up fixed targets for riflery on a watery jet ski course, I propose the participants aim not at conventional targets, but at each other, instead.

That's right, in this event the athletes would be literally gunning for their opponents. They would thus have an opportunity to advance their score through skillful marksmanship, but also by, well, eliminating the competition.

Think of it - at a high level of competition like the Olympics, by the medal round the only ones left standing might well be the medalists themselves.

I think the new element of mortal fear would put an exciting edge on the competition. And, considering all of the preliminary qualifying rounds at the local and regional level that would be required to reach the Olympics, this could effectively control the world's jet skier population and tremendously reduce the sport's global carbon footprint. A classic win-win.

On top of that, this competition would have a certain Darwinian sense of natural balance that's sure to find favor with ecologists and naturalists around the globe.

So what about it, sailors and lovers of peace and quiet on the water, isn't it time we updated an archaic sporting event and brought the Olympic Biathlon into the 21st century?



  1. 'Twould be less hazardous to spectators to simply have the mosquitoes crash into each other at designated locations.

    Or, have them carry lances and joust against each other (best done in shark-infested waters).

  2. An attractive sport, but it has the fundamental flaw that at least one jetskier would survive. So why not get the biathletes to shoot them? That I would pay good money to see.

  3. Does everybody hate tow-in surfing too?

    I'd actually touched on the jetski topic in a March '07 post, Boats boaters hate, where I asked what class of boats people would nominate as only good for artificial reef building material. I didn't pick jetskis.

    Unfortunately the nominations were all lost to the JSKit changeover.

    And more unfortunately, the Laird Hamilton video is gone - I'm SO upset, that was my all-time #1 favorite surf video - the footage was great (there were even crazy windsurfers in there!) and I really really really loved the music to which it had been set.

  4. I guess in recent years I've been somewhat isolated from the jet ski menace. In a keelboat, they're a lot less threatening than when you're paddling, swimming, surfing, or in a small dinghy.

    And SF Bay must not be a good place to drive (or whatever one does with) a jet ski. Our local waters are relatively free of the little nippers.

    I suspect that local residents over in Marin County, in the civilized bayside hamlets of Tiburon and Belvedere have been cleansing the tranquil waters surrounding their modest hillside villas of the annoying pests. What means they use, one can only guess. But, in Marin, many acts that would be considered criminal elsewhere are permitted if committed in the interest of preserving property values.

    I do recall a few ugly summers when we tried sailing our dinghy on some of the Cental Valley's inland lakes that have a rather nasty jet ski infestation. Temperatures were often in the 100's, with just a ghost of a breeze, and the little momsers were merciless in their attack.

    It's difficult at such times to think pleasant thoughts towards one's fellow man.

  5. O Docker, Elephant Butte in the summer is much as you describe, with much heat and many jet skiers. That's why we migrate to Heron in the summer.

  6. I'll never forget the news segment from NBC New York a few years ago. Two jet-skiers were buzzing around a harbor in Long Island, trying to outdo each other, and apparently one of them did not see the very long anchor line from a fairly large sailboat, lying in that harbor. Well, that guy lost his head, unfortunately, and his friend witnessed the scene from his own PWC. Now I'm not saying we should have more long anchor lines, but.......

  7. In New York, there might be liability issues associated with anchor chains festooned with razor wire and det cord. Just sayin'...

    But if you disguise an explosive mine as a channel marker, or better yet as a no-wake buoy or swimming zone boundary, that should really draw them right into it.

  8. It's not just jetskiers that can be problematic.

    I remember do a dive off Devon and the ascent back to the surface was made more interesting by the sight of a speed boat dragging a water skier behind go over my head.

    They apparently had no idea what the dive flag meant :(

    BTW O'Docker - totally off topic, but any of your PC's running XP and McAfee by any chance this week?

    Mine does :(

  9. They probably thought you had set up a slalom course for them, JP.

    Luckily (this time at least) we use Brand X at work and dodged the McAfee bullet (keeping with the theme of this post). My wife wasn't so lucky - almost every workstation had to be individually fixed. They were basically down all day.

    I repeat the thoughts in a comment I wrote on the last post - I think the most proficient evil-doers get jobs with anti-virus companies where we then pay them to torment us.

    I'm investigating the used abacus market.

  10. I think the real problem is that a lot of people who use jetskis tend to have zero notions about water safety, the rules of the road and old fashioned common courtesy. However, that can apply to few sailors and may powerboaters too.

    On the other hand, jetskis used by properly trained people can be an asset. The park service uses them to rescue people from the surf all the time.

  11. I think I agree.

    Jet skis are probably the cheapest and easiest way to get out there for those who think of boating as just 'driving on the water'. I'd guess these are the folks who wreak most of the havoc.

    My first post suggested that we reach out to these dudes when possible and try to show them a better way. But you can only lead 200 horsepower to water, I guess, you can't make them think.

  12. There are some merits to this idea, I also like the idea of jet sky jousting. But what about letting the spectators shoot at the jetters as they go past certain spots, they, the skier can win extra point when they make it past, then the survivors joust each other with exploding tip head on the jousting poles.

  13. Zen, I am shocked.

    I thought you, of all people, would have been horrified by my little plan.

    I guess growing up on Philly's mean streets teaches us that certain kinds of evil can be dealt with only one way. At some point, the Zen Master must yield to the Samurai.

  14. Shaolin, my sect, is the birth place of "Zen" we know some evil has to be nipped at the roots, like a weed.

  15. O Docker, have you thought of asking the National Rifle Association to sponsor your blog?

  16. Oh great, I knew this post might draw all kinds of whacko, right-wing, tea bagging suggestions.

    The only kind of shooting I've ever attempted is shooting myself in the foot - which I am actually quite good at.

  17. Weed?

    Yes, O Docker, parking does suck on Mean South Street. But there is a supreme reward. Jim's steaks. I'll take two wit. And I'll eat upstairs.

    WV: burgua. Youse can't get a burgua here, only cheesesteak