April 2012 was the start of something special in Daytona Beach, FL. When the P1 AquaX first started their inaugural season in the United States with just a few riders who thought the concept of racing stock jet skis was a great idea. Fast forward ahead five years later and the P1 AquaX series has returned to where it all started.
Every April the jet skiing world makes the annual pilgrimage to the shores of Daytona Beach to race against each other and to kick off the racing season. With each year, the numbers have increased and the series has made tremendous gains making it one of the best racing series in the world. This year the competition was fierce with the likes of Chris MacClucage, Eric Francis, Aero Aswar, Eric Lagopoulos and Mike Klippenstein as well as numerous national and world champions who were set to race the professional enduros with the hopes of starting the series off with wins and the chase to be the 2017 AquaX champion.
The Amateur enduros saw Kevin Wassum who was one of the very first racers back in 2012 returning after a brief hiatus. Anthony Radetic, Kevin Sullivan, Sophie Francis, and Jennifer Nolan to name a few joined him in the Amateur series.
This year the P1 AquaX Series was joined by the Jetcross Series so there was going to be a lot of racing for the fans. The weather forecast had called for a lot of sunshine and 2-3 foot waves on Saturday and Sunday was forecast for partly sunny with a chance of rain. Day One kicked off with the mandatory riders’ meeting where the racers were briefed on the rules of the race course along with a review on the marine life that they might encounter while traversing through the course. Finally after getting everything set up it was time for the racing to begin. The day kicked off with the Amateur enduro. The racers were raring to get the season started and the action was pretty intense, as the winds had picked up along with the waves. Numerous racers were thrown from their skis and some sustained pretty bad injuries. Notable injuries were to Carlito del Valle who required stitches and Amanda LeCheminant.
Next up was the Junior Ski class which had Haden Skellett, Taylor Skellett and Sammie Nehme racing against each other as they have done so many times. Sammie had some issues with his ski and couldn’t make the start. After getting it worked out, he started but had some serious catching up to do. Haden Skellett took the win with the other two racers finishing out in their respective order. The Juniors were followed by the Spark class which had Eric Gabryel, Dave Goding, Jason Lester as well as a few others racing against each other. The Sport GP class was next and was a crowd favorite. It was the biggest lineup for the class, which had a total 15 riders.
The Pro Ski class was next on tap for the Jetcross series. As the riders were racing it was obvious that the seas were starting to really churn up. That and the combination of on shore winds and high tide starting caused the schedule to be changed slightly. The Pro Enduro was up next and the Amateur Enduro would be pushed to Sunday.
The Pros started their race and the great Chris MacClucage was ahead of Brian Baldwin coming around a buoy when Baldwin’s boat struck the rear of MacClugage’s causing the seat to come completely off. MacClucage finished the entire race without his seat in some really rough water, and obtained the win for Moto One. The first day of racing finally came to an end and the racers were glad to rest their bodies and work on their skis with Sunday in their sights.
Sunday kicked off with the Amateur Class, and the seas were slightly calmer than the day before. The Ski class and the Junior racers followed the Amateurs. After having issues with his ski Saturday, Sammie Nehme hoped that his ski would be able to start the race at the beginning. Needless to say it had no issues and Sammie took off from the line like a rocket and never relinquished the lead. The crowd was cheering him on as he was racing and jumping waves like a 20-year veteran.
The Sport GP class followed the Spark class. At the start, Sam Nehme took a huge wave and did some damage to his ski and he never was able to fix it knocking him out of the race. Another fan favorite Johnny Smith started in fifth place but rode super hard. He pulled out the win and the crowd went crazy with his win.
Next was the final race for the Amateurs and Carlito del Valle took the first place win in the 300 class. This was Carlito’s first win in the AquaX series showing that not only can he set world records in the HydroDrags but can also win in the rough surf and is more than a straight line rider. The Pros were up next for their final race of the season opener and Chris MacClucage made it a perfect three-for-three, sweeping all three Pro motos in first place. Chris looked extremely strong over the weekend and is now looking ahead to getting the world number one ranking.
The Pro ski class closed out the day of racing followed by the podium presentation. The weekend was a huge success and the racers along with the fans had fun. The weather held up and not a single drop of rain dampened the racing. The first race of the season was in the books and the next race is being looked forward to by the amateurs in St Cloud, Florida next month and by the pros in St. Petersburg, Florida in June.
Results for all classes from the 2017 P1 AquaX Round 1, Daytona Beach, Florida can be found HERE.