Spirits were high for the first day of racing of the 2015 quakysense IJSBA World Finals despite a soggy beginning Tuesday morning. Rain, dark skies and flooding in the streets made for a rough start, but by mid-morning the sky began to clear and the sun came out in full force.
Vendor Alley opened and a few spectators trickled into the grandstands as the day wore on and the sun finally emerged. Blake Corning designed the massive course in a horseshoe shape with a split on the left side and three log jumps followed by a sweeping left turn on the right side of the course with an unusually long straight stretch.
The Novice Ski Limited class proved that anything could happen here at World Finals; Valentin Limon won the first moto and was ahead in the first lap of the second moto when his boat went down. Then the ski in second place also went down experiencing engine trouble. During the second lap, Tasahong Saenguthai Samut Prakan was leading and then wrecked but recovered and was soon back in the race. Maximiand Martinelli was able to move up into first and finish the moto in first place for an overall second place finish. Tasahong Saenguthai Samut Prakan from Thailand took home the world title with John Gasperone finishing third and Limon in 5th.
Novice Runabout Stock also proved to be as exciting as the ski that was in first place on the third lap lost its steering and ran ashore on the (thankfully no one was injured). Travis Zielasko went on to win the World Title in Novice Runabout Stock followed by Yahya Rammah in second and Nopphadon Sapmunsaem rounding out the Top 3. There were 11 classes and 30 races the first day of World Finals.
Wednesday brought more sunny skies and fast skis. There were eight classes that raced, including Amateur and Expert classes as well as the Masters Ski class. The runabout classes seemed to be dominated by the Thailand and Kuwait teams. Shante Bukes of South Africa earned a third place finish in Amateur Runabout Stock with Nawaf Alfarhan from Kuwait finishing second and Supak Settura from Thailand finishing first.
Danai Yiriyasahakit on a Sea-Doo Spark won the Amateur Runabout Super Stock World Title. Curtis Pitman battled it out in the Ski Classic 2-Stroke Limited class to win his first World Title. At one point during the first moto there were three different racers jockeying for the lead; Annie Bailey was passed by Bibi Carmouche, then Curtis Pitman took the lead all the way to the finish.
Kacper Kamia of Poland earned the World Title in Expert Ski Limited. He was in the third place position after the first lap but took the outside split to move into the number two spot and then gained the lead spot with a pass on the straightaway.
On Thursday, live streaming of the event began and thousands at home joined the crowds in the grandstands. The water was extremely rough with white caps and occasional 2-3 foot rollers rolling in. The crowd was particularly impressed watching the Junior 10-12 Stock Lites race.
In spite of having to hold on for dear life in the rough conditions, there were very few if any missed buoys amongst the youngest of the Junior classes. Abdullah Al Hammadi of the UAE battled it out with Trey Beaumer to win the World Title. Tallon Chambers finished third with Mattias Reinaas Kohia of Estonia and Techin Lertphalaphong rounding out the Top 5 in 4th and 5th places, respectively.
Expert Runabout Limited was a battle between the Kuwait team and Thailand team for the world title with Kuwait’s Khaled Burbayea winning it on a Kawasaki. The Thailand team took both the second and third places on Yamahas, with Supak Settura finishing second and Thaweephol Sukkasame finishing third.
Tommy “Bomber” Bonacci took his 5th Sport Spec class championship with Tony Martinez of Chino, CA winning second on a Sea-Doo HX. Third place went to Yousef Alabdulrazzaq of Kuwait.
In Pro Am ski 2-Stroke Lites, Stian Schjetlein raced the new ProForce hull, finishing in third place working his way up from the back of the pack. Second place was Nycolas Olivin and the title went to Quinten Bossche of Belgium.
Pro-Am Ski Limited was won by Mike “Klipper” Klippenstein, winning what we believe is his 25th World Championship. Daniel Svae Anderson and Jeremy Vohcgemuth rounded out the Top Three. Junior rider Manussanum Mankun of Thailand raced an impressive race finishing fifth.
Both Pro-Am classes struggled with the log jump section of the track with 20-knot winds blowing in and super rough water. Many strong riders lost ground on the log jump. Slalom also opened on Thursday but due to the rough conditions of the water, most riders, if not all of them, chose to wait until Friday to participate.
Friday welcomed much calmer water conditions but scorching heat. Vendor Alley and the grandstands were packed with spectators from all over the world. Junior Ski 13-15 Lites was a very popular class with over 20 entries requiring two qualifying heats. Nycolas Olivin took the title with Kole Cramer and Sulaiman Alamadi Aljarf finishing second and third.
The Klipper was going for his 26th World Title in Pro-Am Ski Stock when he wrecked and fell back from the lead to the 9th position. Urik Berntsen won the class, with a junior racer, Marten Manni of Estonia, finishing second and Daniel Martinelli of Argentina finishing third. All three were riding Hydrospaces.
Yoann Tollener of France nearly had the world title in Amateur Ski Open after a first place finish in Moto 1; he was in the lead and wrecked on the last two buoys of Moto 2 dropping back to the 8th spot and finishing 6th overall. Kyle Araiza was able to clinch the title thanks to a win in the second moto and a third place finish in the first moto. Tayne Lemon of New Zealand finished second and Blake Wicklund of Arizona finished third.
Again the Kuwait and Thailand teams battled it out in the Expert Runabout Open with Khaled Burbayea winning the title and teammate Mohammed Albaz finishing second. Thailand took a third place on the podium with Katunya Chom-In finishing third. Altogether, eight classes raced Friday with Amateur freestyle also competing and the slalom course was open.
The Amateur freestyle competition included two women this year; Jessi Wijdeven of the Netherlands finished in 9th place and Kelli Hieke of Reno, Nevada finished 18th. The well-known free rider Tanner “Tanman” Thomas took this year to change focus from freeriding in the ocean to flatwater freestyle and it paid off with an Amateur Freestyle world title. The win earned him a chance to compete in Pro Freestyle finishing 12th.
Hassan Abudawood riding for Powerhouse Performance caused the crowd to collectively gasp as he did a backflip with no hood on his ski (yes, it was on purpose and yes, he landed it, thankfully not sinking his ski). Jason Widdes finished second overall and third place was Evan Krefski.
Saturday and Sunday featured two Junior races: 10-12 Stock and 13-15 Limited as well as five runabout classes: GP Sport, GP Runabout, Women’s Runabout, Pro-Am Runabout stock and Pro Runabout open. The day also included Pro-Am Women’s Limited Ski, Pro Ski Open, Vintage Ski and Vintage X2.
In Pro Ski Open, both Chris MacClugage and Mike Klippenstein had delayed starts and somehow ended up in the LCQ. They took first and second in the LCQ and both advanced to the heat races. Jeremy Poret took home the world title this year, improving from his 8th place finish in 2014. Klippenstein finished in second also improving from last year’s 6th place finish and Brock Austin took the third place podium.
Shotaro Kokubun moved up from the back of the pack to the front a couple times in the last two days. At one point, Ian Roberts was in second place but wrecked and Chris MacClugage and Shotaro collided in the split, losing ground for both of them. Each Pro jumped the log jumps a total of 27 times per moto and nearly 100 times in the three motos they raced.
Emi Kanamori took the Women’s Pro-Am Ski title, moving up the podium from last year’s third place finish and unseating Yukiko Kume who was the 2014 world champion. Yukiko finished a very admirable second place this year with Emma-Nellie Ortendahl finishing third and Tera Laho in 4th. Jonna and Sandra Bergstrom of Sweden battled it out for 5th and 6th respectively. Sandra was last year’s Novice Women’s World Champion, passing the torch to her sister Sophie this year.
The top 5 finishers in Pro-Am Runabout Stock were all riding Yamaha manufactured skis: Brian Baldwin took first with Abdullah Al-Fadhel in second and last year’s champion, Aero Aswar finishing in third. Once again, Saif Al-Falasi had mechanical issues and ended up onshore.
Women’s Runabout was a close race for second and third as Tammy Rarick and Shante Bukes battled it out with Paloma Noceda of Peru taking home her first World Title leaving no doubts as to her riding ability with a huge 11-second lead.
Pro Freestyle was amazing. The competitors got 1 minute on Saturday to show their stuff, 90 sec under the London Bridge Saturday evening and a full 2 minutes on Sunday. Again they are scored on variety, degree of difficulty and number of tricks executed correctly. Lee Stone won the World Title with amazing amplitude on all of his tricks, 360s going in opposite directions, a heel clicker flip as his final trick on Sunday and of course, many backflips and barrel rolls. Naoya Hamanak of Japan finished second and Rashid Almulla of Dubai finished third.
Rashid added LED lights to his ski for the night show under the London Bridge and in his final routine on Sunday completed over 50 tricks in 2 minutes. Mark Gomez debuted the new Rickter XFR Freeride hull in all of his routines.
Huge standouts included France’s Jeremy Poret grabbing championships in both Pro Ski GP and Pro Ski Open, particularly after maintaining a measurable lead ahead of the pack, and Hungary’s György Kasza who piloted a near all-carbon fiber Sea-Doo RXP-X to a dominating lead over the Pro Runabout Open class, even as previous World Champion James Bushell furiously piloted a similar RXP-X Sea-Doo close behind.
All in all, this year’s quakysense IJSBA World Finals showed how this event is truly a global event and how much Lake Havasu City, Arizona, is the ideal venue. We look forward to many more years of jet ski racing in this desert oasis and look forward to seeing you all there next year!
For all final results from the 2015 quakysense IJSBA World Finals, please click HERE.