The Blue Dog Chemical Company Pro Watercross Tour, presented by Broward Motorsports returned to the white sand beaches of Pensacola, FL again this year. During the drive down, we checked the surf report, which showed “flat” or 0-to-1 foot waves. This was slightly disappointing because one of the nicer things about racing and freestyle on the ocean is the potential for decent sized surf waves. Luckily, this surf report was wrong!
Ocean waves can really help or hinder a rider, based on their specialty, but as a spectator. Oh boy, it’s fun to watch! We remember watching Jeb Zarzour putting on one of his best ocean races in Amateur Ski Stock, but on the final lap, and final buoy, he went ‘over the falls’ on a wave and did a front flip off his Yamaha Super Jet, catapulting him 20 feet away from his ski. By the time he could be reunited with his ski, the race was over and he went from 3rd to last just like that.
Freestyle was a blast on the waves, especially Sunday when the surf picked up, giving some waist to chest-high surf waves. Jeff Lutker and Ryan Doberstein put on a show for the crowd aboard their freestyle skis with plenty of opportunities for aerial maneuvers.
Last week when we interviewed Jimmy Wilson, he brought up how great it was for Pro Watercross to let the Juniors race with the adults, which is a brand new things for Pro Watercross to do. They were given a shot to prove they could ride fast and safe enough to earn the opportunity to race the entire tour with the older (potentially faster) riders. Something a lot of people don’t understand is that these kids had to race Junior classes plus their adult classes, so they put in a ton of laps through the course of a weekend.
“This was a really cool thing of Pro Watercross to try out to help build the sport and help the kids prepare for the world finals,” Wilson told us. We had a chance to interview Chris Skellett and his son, Haden Skellett about their thought of juniors hopping onto the racecourse with the adults. Here’s what they had to say:
Watercraft Journal: How many kids do you have and what do they race?
Chris Skellett: Three kids; Taylor, age 12; Haden, age 13; and Thomas, age 27. They race Junior Stock 10-12, Junior Stock 13-15, Spec, Novice Spec, and Amateur Ski Stock
WCJ: Last weekend, on the first round of the Pro Watercross tour in Panama City Beach, FL, there was something completely new that happened for the juniors. They got to race with the adults in Amateur Ski Stock. Tell us about this:
CS: We’ve been asking for about a year for the kids to move up to get a little more competition, since the kids race together all the time. There’s only 3 or 4 of them that travel and we all live near each other, so they finally gave them a chance. I think all the juniors performed really well, held their lines, and put on a great show! My son [Haden] ended up winning all three motos and my daughter [Taylor] had a couple holeshots and did really well.
WCJ: What kind of ski are you riding this year, Haden?
Haden Skellett: Two skis; a Yamaha ‘Blaster, and a Yamaha SuperJet
WCJ: What classes are you racing?
HS: Amateur Ski Stock and Novice Sport Spec, and all Junior classes.
WCJ: What did you enjoy most out of the weekend?
HS: I really enjoyed racing in Amateur. We had great battles; it was fun!
WCJ: What do you think about getting to race with the “older kids,” since you’re only 13 years old?
HS: I love the opportunity to race with full lines, no matter what age. I just hope that every class I race in, I could race with a lot of people on the gate to get a chance to show off my skill level.
WCJ: Are they on the same skis as the rest of the Amateur Ski Stock class, or do they have a few more modifications?
CS: They are on stock boats; the same ones they run in Junior Stock. Haden runs his Yamaha SuperJet, and we switched Taylor over to a Yamaha SuperJet this year, so she runs one of Haden’s back up boats. She’s been doing great on it over the SX-R’s of last year.
WCJ: Anything else you’d like to say?
CS: We’re looking forward to moving up into some even higher classes. For regular sport stock, we’d like to get into the actual Spec instead of the Novice Spec for Haden and keep Taylor in Novice Spec. Our oldest son runs in the Sport Spec class, so my younger son and my older son would like to do some battle and see what they can do. And of course, we’d like to move Haden up to Pro-Am Ski Stock. We’d like to have a shot at Jimmy Wilson and the older guys.
WCJ: Will we see you on the rest of the Pro Watercross tour? What about Lake Havasu for the IJSBA World Finals?
CS: Yes, we run the whole Pro Watercross tour usually every year and we will definitely be at Havasu this year.
Round 3 on the Pro Watercross National Tour is in Racine, Wisconsin on July 28-29th. There will also be a special event in Sparks, Nevada on July 1st. For a full list of race results, you can check out www.ProWatercross.com/results