The 2017 Broward Motorsports Pro Watercross World Championship events took place last weekend in Naples, Florida and it was a beautiful weekend for watercraft racing. The event, now in its third year, featured thirty-two classes of racing and freestyle competition, and shared the weekend with the MotoSurf World Cup which hosted its event in Naples for the first time this year.
Racing began on Thursday, November 2nd, with the Novice, Vintage, IROC GP and Women’s Runabout Box Stock classes being a few of the races taking place Thursday and Friday. There was no shortage of excitement on these first two days of racing as the Novice classes – most notably the Novice Sport Stock class – featured many new and talented racers. The Novice Sport Stock class, which raced on Friday, saw nine riders at the line, and it was Christopher Landis who reigned supreme in all three motos, taking home his first world title. Another Friday afternoon feature was the IROC GP class. This premier class saw national and world champion racers such as Eric Lagopolous and Eric Gabryel at the line for what would end up being a well-fought battle between the pair of Erics, but it would be Eric Lagopolous who would take the world title in the class.
Saturday’s schedule made for a day of back-to-back excellent racing and welcomed the largest class of the event, Sport Stock. Eighteen riders took the line for this event, and it was no surprise when it took several attempts to start the race in each of the afternoon’s two motos. Elbow-to-elbow, these riders took off on their Yamaha WaveBlasters and Sea-Doo HXs, and the crowd roared as it watched a rider come off just feet from the gate after his and another boat collided at the start. Fortunately no injuries occurred, and he was back on his boat and back in the race in seconds. In the second moto, a series of red flagged starts resulted in all the racers being called to the beach and given a talking-to by the race director. The pep-talk seemed to work, as the riders finally got it together and put on a great show of excellent racing for the lingering fans.
Another notable and hair-raising race of the weekend was Pro-Am Runabout GP, which also raced on Saturday. Although a small class with only five riders, the fierce competition between Erminio Iantosca and Brian Baldwin had the spectators on their feet. Forced to start with his lanyard out in the second moto, Iantosca made a brilliant comeback, catching up to Baldwin in what was a true fight for the world title. Both racers exhibited tremendous speed and determination, but it was Iantosca aboard his RIVA Racing Sea-Doo who would take home the championship trophy.
On Sunday, CBS Sports was there filming coverage of the event. The final day of racing had a lighter schedule than the previous three days, however, it was no day to forget. Two of the weekend’s premier classes – Pro-Am Runabout Box Stock and Sport GP – would compete on this last day of the Pro Watercross 2017 season finale. In Pro-Am Runabout Box Stock, Erminio Iantosca and Brian Baldwin faced off for a second time. This time, though, it would be Brian Baldwin who would take win and the title, with Iantosca in second and Dylan Osborne taking the third podium spot.
The Sport GP lineup was almost as stacked as Saturday’s Sport Stock event, with fifteen strong riders at the gate. One of the most fun classes to watch (and to race in, according to the riders), this event saw riders of all ages aboard their small but powerful sport boats. Broward Motorsports’ Sam Nehme ultimately earned the title, after three hard fought motos in which he finished in the top three spots in each. Races were going on all throughout the field, and each moto saw a mix up in the finishing positions. Richard Taylor and Christian Daly would end up taking the second and third place spots.
Sunday’s roster also included the Pro Freestyle competition. Always crowd favorites, champion riders Luke Stocks and Chris Anyzeski were among those to flip and roll their way to the podium, with Stocks taking home the world title.
Overall, it was another fantastic weekend of racing at Sugden Park. It was a nice treat to have the MotoSurf World Cup on site, and the new sport looks like a whole lot of fun – and a great core workout. Spectators were slim, although those present were noticeably engaged and enthusiastic about the racing going on. It’s hard to believe that another season of racing has come to an end, but with spectacular performances by all and many new faces, the season closer was a nice reminder that there will be much more excitement to come in the 2018 season as watercraft racing continues to steal the hearts of a new generation of racers.