Why 400 jet skis are taking over NYC waters this weekend

Despite being surrounded by water, most don’t consider NYC a hot spot for water sports — that is, unless you’re one of the hundreds of jet skiers splashing into the city this weekend for the annual NYC Jet Ski Invasion.

Starting on Saturday at 11 a.m., some 400 jet skiers from throughout the Northeast will gather in the East River — near the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City — to begin their tour around Manhattan — moving down toward Governor’s Island and then back up along the Westside Highway up the Hudson River.

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But don’t fret when you see them whipping up some whitecaps — this gang will be flanked by several safety boats, while the United States Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies standby along the route.

The NYC Invasion brings together several area jet ski teams, including the NYC Pirates, Hudson River Squad and Matatanes Racing Team, organized by Strong Island Jet Skis. Freddie Arias, a lead rider with Strong Island, says jet skiers from as far as Pennsylvania and Connecticut also regularly attend.

“The first event was back in 2017 when it was just the local jet ski clubs from New York city and Long Island,” says Arias. “Each year the NYC Invasion kept getting more popular. It went from just 200 jet skis to 400 last year.”

Arias, who says his club hosts “safety and awareness” lessons for first timers, created the Invasion to give recreational riders a chance to “enjoy the beautiful beaches of Long Island and skyscrapers of the most amazing city in the world … [and] make sure everyone enjoy their jet ski to the upmost, and safest way.”

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