Most people look forward to the weekend as their opportunity to spend some much needed time at home with friends and family, running errands, or just relaxing away from the daily grind of work.
Last week, I found myself looking forward to the coming weekend, not only to get away after a long work week, but excited to jump the border to Mexico and celebrate a long weekend with friends Ross Champion and Carl Gramberg for the release of their new Champion Timepiece watches.
Ross and Carl had been planning this trip for months and their goal was simple; head to Mexico with the Champion Timepiece Freeride Team, consisting of some of the best freeride jet skiers in the world. Yes, you heard me right, the world.
Team riders include Zack and Jake Bright, Jake Montadon, Marc Sickerling, Pete McAfee, Randy Laine, Mark Gomez, Mike Serlin, Darin Anderson and of course, Champion Timepiece co-founders, Ross Champion and Carl Gramberg.
From Southern California to South Africa, these riders traveled from far and wide to join in the celebration, good weather, and great freeriding. Although a few of the Team Riders were unable to make the trip, the rest of team packed up and headed south of the border to ride in some of the most remote locations in Baja.
South of Ensenada, down a 25-mile dirt road, the team set up camp for two full days of freeriding. This exclusive team photo shoot was only the start of what was to be a great weekend in Mexico. The undisclosed location provided the team with great waves and even better photos.
Saturday afternoon, the Champion Timepiece team arrived at Estero Beach Resort, where a group of their Southern Californian friends were riding the waves while awaiting their arrival. Riders such as Eddie Bettencourt, Chris Rosner, Curtis Udall, Josh Bernard, John Howe, Matt Smith, Derek Fischer, Fred the Frenchmen, and George the Greek, were occupying the beach until the Champion team arrived.
It was amazing to see the amplitude of aerial tricks as the shifting tide created ever changing wave faces.
Everyone took advantage of the last few minutes of daylight, trading and trying every different jet ski in the vast array of machines in the group. This was a great opportunity for everyone to ride the different hulls and motor setups on the flat water of the lagoon to get a feel for the differences in each machine. It was so inviting that even The Watercraft Journal‘s photographer, Brittany Behringer, got out there for a spin around the lagoon for her second ride ever on a standup jet ski.
As the sun was setting, Mark Gomez put on a flat water freestyle show for everyone on the beach, riding his new Rickter hull, setup by TC Freeride. Although most of the group had never seen Mark ride on the flat water, he proved that his new Rickter/DASA setup launches him to a whole new amplitude, all while looking fresh with his beautiful white and blue paint job and matching JetPilot gear. But Mark showed everyone that his freestyle skills were much more than just looking good.
After all of the jet skis were loaded up or pulled up on the beach, everyone decided to storm the resort hot tub for a little relaxation.
At one point, there were about 25 people all crammed into one hot tub (and yes, it wasn’t all just guys; there were four girls who braved the waters).
It was great catching up with everyone and getting all the details about the team shoot portion of the trip. Chris Rosner and Mark Gomez even made a poor attempt at flirting in Spanish with some of the local girls.
Following the hot tub session, everyone went back to their rooms to freshen up for a group dinner at the resort restaurant to celebrate and get their first look at the new Champion Timepiece watch.
All 30 people joined in to share dinner, drinks and some pretty good laughs.
The next morning arrived with 2-to-3 foot, glassy surf conditions. The Burn/Krash Industries rig unloaded Jake and Zack Bright’s new Predator skis, as well as a JB1. Riders took advantage of the glassy conditions, only returning to refill for fuel. The shallow waters were crystal clear giving the ultimate views to the sandy ocean floor below.
Although the ride from the lagoon to the surf had some lingering sand bars, the shallow waters didn’t stop the riders from displaying their full bag of tricks. Huge backflip variations, underflips, barrel roll re-entries, and many great surf turns were a common sight that morning.
The Watercraft Journal‘s photographer, Josh Bernard, got some amazing photos from the sandbar with his Cannon 1DX inside a water housing. The waves and riders were far from the beach and could only be seen from a distance, but it didn’t stop our photographers from jumping in the water to get the shot.
After a few hours of riding the glassy conditions, most of the group started packing up, as Sunday headed into the afternoon and the line back at the border can make for a really long wait.
Everyone had a great time seeing old friends and making new ones. There is something about the roar of a jet ski engine, the smell of gasoline and some great waves that really brings a group together.
As the group packed their skis and loaded up the cars, Ross Champion added, “I’m very appreciative of everyone that came down to the Fusion release party in Estero Beach. It was a great way to end an amazing trip.”