Production of the first marine jet – the WaveRunner 500 (Marine Jet 500T) – began in 1986, generating a huge reaction among marine fans across the globe. We talked with the man known as “WaveRunner Papa”, the development manager at that time, Neil Kobayashi.
I was stationed in Shonan, the center of Japan’s marine leisure in the 1970’s. At this time, as there was no need for licenses or certification on small watercraft, people were free to use the water areas how they felt taking responsibility for themselves.
Shonan, being close to Yokohama and Yokosuka, made it easy to launch boats and other W/V type craft off into the ocean very freely. There were many different types of craft available such as scaled-down versions of small boats, surfboards fitted with propelling devices and underwater wings etc.
At the time, marine leisure was thought of not being available for everyone and really only the elite – I remember thinking about possibilities to provide this type of enjoyment in easier ways for the more average person. However, as I had only just joined the company, on a technical level, I was not in a position at which I could exercise any authority.
Even so, I felt that I would one day like to make a craft of this type. This was the opportunity to create the WaveRunner.