Pro Watercross sure knows how to pick nice locations for its national tour! Round 1 started off in paradise, also known as Panama City, FL, as the PWC’s took to the water for some high-speed action! This year, the tour is known as the 2018 Blue Dog Chemical Company Pro Watercross Tour presented by Broward Motorsports. There were many familiar faces, but also a few new ones as well, such as Scott Hyke, the new race director, who is no stranger to watercraft racing. During the riders meeting, he told us that he has done more than 200 races throughout his career.
Sport GP was a great race to watch. Johnny Smith hole shotted Moto 1 after Sam Nehme had to start with a dead engine. In Moto 2, Sam Nehme killed it and won wire to wire. During Moto 3, Sam Nehme won again in the rough conditions with a great battle behind him. Overall, Sam Nehme won, Keith Dill got second and Jordan Carroll got on his first podium in third.
We had a chance to interview some familiar faces to the standup ski racing scene, Jimmy Wilson and Callaway Turner, after Panama City was wrapped up. Here’s what they had to say:
The Watercraft Journal: What did you think of the conditions?
Jimmy Wilson: The water conditions were pretty cool. The water was changing by the minute all weekend. Moto 1 on Saturday was basically just a little wind chop. Moto 2 the winds died down and the water was glass which made for a high HP race. After Moto 2 the wind picked up and the waves got big. We had 4-5 foot holes down the back stretch. Moto 3 was definitely the roughest water conditions of the weekend.
WCJ: So, you’re on a Yamaha SuperJet now! What’s up with that?!
JW: We are racing for Broward Motorsports which is a Factory Yamaha Race team in 2018. We were fortunate enough to get on the team thanks to Sam Nehme.
WCJ: How many classes are you racing in?
JW: I will be racing Pro-am Ski Stock and Pro-am Ski GP for the year.
WCJ: Do you plan to do the whole Pro Watercross tour?
JW: Yes we will be racing the entire tour in hopes to defend our National Championships from 2017.
WCJ: Anyone you’d like to thank?
JW: Judge Motorsports, Broward Motorsports, Yamaha, IPD Graphics, JAM Racing, Frowerx, Fly Racing, ADA Racing, Hot Products, Prowatercraftracing.com, JC Racing, Amsoil, Ryno Power, Jet Pilot, Jettrim, Ben Swanson, big shout out to my family.
The Watercraft Journal: Callaway, this was a big weekend for you! You managed to pull off a podium finish in one of the toughest classes of racing (Pro-Am Ski Stock)! How’d you do it?
Callaway Turner: This was a great weekend for me. It’s always great to be on the podium. Performing well at this level takes a lot of testing and tuning on the ski as well as ample training both on and off the water because there are a lot of great riders in the class. While the race itself is mostly an individual effort, it wouldn’t be possible without having a great team with me.
WCJ: What were the conditions like? It’s a surf race, but can you explain the difference between racing in the ocean versus racing on a lake?
CT: Conditions were challenging. We had a large amount of wind chop in Motos 1 and 3 which makes it difficult to maintain speed and is a lot more tiring to ride in. This weekend, we didn’t have any big swells unfortunately, but racing in surf is still different from fresh water racing. The water moves significantly more which can require you to adjust your line when racing. Also, salt water is a little denser than fresh water which means you float higher. While this difference is small, it can be the difference between carving a turn and going swimming when riding at the limit.
WCJ: How long have you been racing? And how many times have you been able to earn a podium position in the Pro class?
CT: This is my 7th year of racing overall and my 4th racing at the Pro level. I’ve only made it on the podium a handful of times racing at this level and it’s always an exciting accomplishment. My first time on the podium was actually here at Panama City Beach when I finished 2nd in 2016.
WCJ: Anyone you’d like to thank for helping you get to this level?
CT: I’d like to thank Hurricane Racing and Amsoil for making this possible for me. We have a great team that always makes riding, practicing, and racing a blast. Specifically I want to thank Bill Haig for his support, encouragement, expertise, and training throughout my racing career. I also want to thank my family for supporting me and even participating in this sport – my girlfriend, Carrie Oliver, and sister, Niki Turner, who both race regularly as well as my mom who takes it upon herself to feed the whole team when at the races and even tried her hand at racing once in Charleston, WV.
For a full list of race results, you can check out www.ProWatercross.com/results