You’ve been riding and enjoying your personal watercraft at the local lake, maybe even taking a few scenic trips to other lakes seeing the sights and meeting with friends for group rides. Even though PWC have ‘personal’ in the name, they beget a high level of camaraderie between riders. There is no better way to develop a strong relationship between other enthusiasts and your ski than a competition. In the last few years, the PWC industry has gained popularity not seen since the early 90s.
Engineering marvels like the supercharged sitdowns available from Yamaha, Kawasaki and Sea-Doo to Kawasaki’s four-stroke and Yamaha’s two-stroke stand ups give today’s enthusiast near race ready skis out of the box! Also can’t forget the aftermarket hull design companies like ProWatercraft Racing, Bullett Racing, Krash Industries, California Freestyle, Xscream and many others who are helping grow the sport of PWC racing and freestyle one layer of fiberglass at a time.
You have a ski and want to start racing. The next logical step is to find an event, but how? Like hull manufacturers, there has been a resurgence in event promoters around the nation and all over the world. One of the largest sanctioning bodies is the International Jet Sports Boating Association, also known as the IJSBA for short. You can visit their website to find IJSBA sanctioned events in your region or country. Events don’t stop there though – the Pro Watercross Tour is a nationwide event series that has stops all over the USA. The Jet Jam Racing series has events in the Western USA, East Coast Watercross supports many East Coast USA events. P1 AquaX has stops in the USA and all over the world! If you are overseas UIM Aqua Bike and others support events in Europe and Asia.
Ski? Check. Event near you? Check. Now comes the fun part – getting ready for the event. Each event promoter follows basic guidelines for registration, class placement, and safety rules. Be sure to confirm the rules with your chosen event promoter, but here is a basic guide how to prepare for your first race.
– Functioning kill switch lanyard. Modern skis come equipped with lanyard kill switches, but older models will need to be fitted with one before allowed on the race course.
– Nuts and bolts all tight. Seems obvious, but small things like handlebars, grips, and steering nozzles come loose over time with vibration and use.
– Fuel lines secured and venting outside the hull, no leaks.
– Battery secure, strapped and poles tight.
– Steering moves without binding for the entire sweep, chin pad present.
– Flexible tow loop on the front of the ski in case it needs to be towed off course.
– Ski (stand ups) class – spine protector either under life vest or attached to the back of the vest.
– Life vest with no rips or tears, must be fully functional.
– DOT rated helmet. Motocross helmets are the most common and work well with MX goggles.
– Gloves, shoes and a wetsuit are recommended, but not required. MX gloves give better grip than wet hands and the wetsuit helps with rash from the tray or seat. Wrestling style shoes or jet ski specific footwear help keep you planted on the ski and protect your feet.
– If racing at an IJSBA sanctioned event you must be an IJSBA member. To register, visit this website.
– Yellow buoys are right-handed turns, red buoys are left-handed turns.
– Bring a friend to hold your ski on the line, two if you are on a runabout (sit down). If you don’t have someone, usually another racer or spectator will help out in a bind.
– A scissor stand or sand anchor is recommended if you do not want to beach your ski.
– Arrive early to sort out any registration or tech issues.
– Multiple gas cans to refuel at the event. The VP style cans work well for runabouts and stand ups.
– If you have a GoPro or other waterproof action camera – bring it! Be sure to attach a floatie in case the camera or you get knocked off your ski.
Your first race doesn’t have to be about placing well, just go to have fun, meet like-minded people and figure out the process. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your local promoter for specific rules and processes. Most of all, enjoy another facet of what the PWC community has to offer.