The P1 AquaX Tour was having their last stop for the year with the world finals in Key West, Florida. This was going to be their first time in Key West and what a great location it was set to be with the crystal clear water of the southern most point of the United States.
With racers arriving into town on Friday they were excited for the final race of the season with beautiful sunny weather. The forecast for the weekend was slated to be chilly with temperatures dropping with some rain arriving on Saturday however. Missing from this round of racing was National Champion Chris MacClugage and fellow racer Mike Klippenstein. They along with Troy Snyder, were racing half way around the world in Thailand for the King’s Cup.
As Saturday morning arrived so did the rain. With racing slated to start at 1PM in the afternoon everyone was praying to the weather gods to have the sun come out. Visibility was reduced because of the weather and it was questionable if racing could be done. Once the decision to race was made it was time to get the course set up and have the helicopter check the course to see if there was any marine life on the course that might interfere with racing.
The crowds were starting to arrive for some fast paced racing at the Edward B. Knight Pier where race control was set up despite the cold blustery weather. As the helicopter was checking the course sea turtles were seen from up above and racing was put on a marine hold. This hold lasted for almost three hours and racing was once again put in jeopardy for the day as time was running out before daylight was lost for the day. While racing was put on hold fans were given a show by Kristen Smoyer on her flyboard. As fans were anxiously waiting it was finally determined by the P1 Staff that racing should go on. They decided that the Pro Class and Amateur Class would race together in their first heat instead of separately as originally planned.
Race one for the weekend saw Erminio Iantosca take his brand new 2018 Sea-Doo RXT-X 300 and get the holeshot. It was the first time anyone saw the brand new ski in action and boy was it fast out the gate. This must have come as happy news as Sea-Doo rep Tim Mckercher was on site to see it happen. Could the Yamaha reign of wins be finally over for the year? Unfortunately for Iantosca, he had to fend off Eric Francis, Brian Baldwin and Nicolas Rius on their Yamaha GP1800s.
Francis, after gaining an overall second place in the national championship, took the lead and never let it go for the remainder of the race. Rius got as close to two seconds behind Francis during the race trying to chase him down but Eric Francis was just too fast for him. Francis took a first place finish followed by Rius and Brian Baldwin in third to finish out the top three. In the Amateur Classes it was David Gorie in the 300 Class, Kevin Sullivan in the 250 Class and Eric Diaz in the 200 Class. And all while racing on Yamahas. This ended the first day of racing and everyone was hoping for a better day the next day.
Sunday came and the weather gods were definitely cooperating is far as the clear skies. There was definitely not going to be any rain in site and racing got going. The temperatures did however decrease overnight and it felt rather cold but it was definitely better than rain from the previous day. The racers would be racing two races each and not be combined as in the previous day. The Pros started the day off and it was Eric Lagopoulos who got the holeshot with Eric Francis right behind him.
Baldwin took the lead and looked like he was ready to battle for the championship. Eric Francis followed him this time and Rius was coming hard after both of them. As racing continued it brought some hard charging and the fans that arrived to the second day of racing looked on and cheered for their favorite racers. Baldwin finished first followed by Francis in second and Rius finished in third. Rius however got injured and dislocated his shoulder and headed straight to the pits after the race to get tended to.
The Amateurs started their race and it was Carlito Del Valle that raced hard and take the first place finish in the Amateur 300 Class. This was Del Valle ‘s last race ever as an Amateur as he was moving up to the Pro Class next season and a first place finish would be a bonus for him making the move. In the 250 Class it was Christian Daly who got the win and dethrone Kevin Sullivan’s flawless season. Jose Gonzalez took the win over Eric Diaz in the 200 Class.
It was time for a break in the action and Kristen Smoyer again entertained the crowd with her highflying Flyboard demonstration. Jetsurf got into the action as well and demonstrated their motorized surfboards in the crystal clear waters off the pier for the crowd to see. Finally it was time for the last race of the year for the Pros to take place. It looked liked a lock for Eric Francis to win the first ever AquaX World Championship. His ski was running great and all he had to do was get a top two finish to claim the championship. As the race started it was Brian Baldwin who got the holeshot.
Eric Francis was right behind him, however he had problems with his ski and his weekend be over. This opened the door for Baldwin to set his sights on a World Championship crown. Nicolas Rius – even though dislocating his shoulder – raced and charged hard, but the pounding of racing eventually was too much for him to handle. As Rius started to fade back in the pack it was Sea-Doo rider Erminio Iantosca who was the hard charger on his brand new Sea-Doo. Baldwin had too much of a lead for Iantosca to catch up to him but it was definitely a bright day for Sea-Doo to take a podium spot for the weekend and ended the Yamaha dominance. Brian Baldwin took the win and the crown, becoming the first ever AquaX World Champion.
In the Amateurs last race of the season Carlito Del Valle ran a flawless race and became the overall winner of the 300 Class. He put on a dominating performance for his last amateur race of his career. Christian Daly again won in the 250 Class and Jose Gonzalez won in the 200 Class. The 2017 AquaX race series finally came to an end. With new tour locations, more sponsors and mass participation it once again put on a great series and can only look forward to the future. Let’s see what next season brings next year.