For those into standup ski racing, the introduction of the new Kawasaki JetSki SX-R 1500 was a windfall. The long, contoured hull borrowed heavily from Kawasaki’s storied history of both standup ski handling and rough water runabout balance. Heavier than any other ski before it, the new SX-R could aptly split through chop, absorbing impacts that would best lesser riders. Of course, toting a 160-horsepower 1.5L 4-stroke beneath the hood added greatly to the SX-R’s immediate appeal. No longer plagued by the rattle and smoke of a 2-stroke, the clean-running electronically fuel injected Kawasaki fired up smoothly and ripped with brutal grunt.
With that, aftermarket tuners have quickly adopted the new ski as the tool to use; quickly testing and developing performance products to unearth and magnify the ski’s cornering capability, balance and ability to track true without any unforeseen bucking, searching or wobble. One such company is JC Racing. Helmed by Jason Carlton, JC Racing has taken Carlton’s experience as a developer of high tech components for satellites and the Mars rover (literally) and applied it to producing top tier jet ski components. The latest (and arguably one of the most successful) products in JC Racing’s catalog is the Rear/Mid Sponsons.
Literally the first of its kind, JC Racing incorporated the rear sponson that “includes a backing plate base sponson for added stability at high speeds with a mid sponson for unbeatable grip throughout the corner.” The result is a sponson that offers the best of both worlds; a stable ride, yet allows for hairpin cornering when prompted. And accordingly, the JC Racing Rear/Mid Sponson can be configured to be race legal per the IJSBA rulebook. According to Carlton, “These sponsons will provide both the average recreational rider and the world class professional the confidence they are seeking to push this new 1500 to its limits while creating the desired comfortable and predictable ride.”
We spoke to three SX-R riders who are currently using the JC Racing Mid/Rear Sponson; Jeremy Poper, a veteran racer with over 30 years experience; Kole Cramer, a Junior Ski class racer; and Frank Gurnari, a standup ski enthusiast who has never set foot on a race course in his life:
The Watercraft Journal: Kole, tell us a little about yourself.
Kole Cramer: I live in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I started riding when I was 4 on Lake Powell on a 750 SX, and have been racing since 2014.
WCJ: So what classes do you race currently?
KC: I race Pro-Am Ski Lites in IJSBA (GP4 JetJam), and Pro Ski GP/Open in IJSBA (GP1 JetJam).
WCJ: How do you like the JC Racing sponsons on your SX-R?
KC: I like the JC Racing 1500 sponsons the best because it is the best one out there. I think that it is very nice how well it fits up there in the bond flange to let no water up there so it does not lay over and stay over in any type of water condition. It also includes the mid sponson, which is nice for the wide open sweepers and you can go and snap a corner any time you want.
The Watercraft Journal: Frank, you’re a little different than these two guys. Tell us about yourself.
Frank Gurnari: I’m Frank Gurnari. I’m 39 years old and from Harvey’s Lake, PA. I’ve been riding stand-up jet skis for 27 years but I’ve never raced. I’m a “recreational warrior.”
WCJ: Ha! Great! And what did you like about the JC Racing sponsons?
FG: What first piqued my interested with the JC Racing sponsons was the rear-mid combo, and once I found out about the multi-mounting points of the rear blades and the billet aluminum construction, I was sold.
WCJ: What was your impression when you put them on?
FG: Upon receiving the sponsons, I was instantly impressed with the design, build, packaging of the hardware and detailed instruction provided. With the design of these sponsons, they are a tight fit, but with some light persuasion they will click into place.
The first ride with the JC Racing sponsons I knew I had made the right choice. The combination of the stock ride plate and sponsons made my ski handle as I had hoped. Stable high speed straights and high speed cornering that makes me feel like I’m pulling G-forces straight out of the space program.
The chine walk that plagued the new SX-R for me has been totally eliminated, along with the feeling of being held down in the corners. With the multiple mounting locations for the rear blades, these sponsons will fit all riding styles.
The stock SX-R, although buoyant, was never as stable as it was billed to be. I tried a few other set-ups from the other company’s offering handling parts, which helped, but I still wasn’t satisfied. I recommend anyone looking to improve the handling of their Kawasaki SX-R 1500, look no further than JC Racing’s mid/rear sponson combo. Give that SX-R the GP handling it deserves!
The Watercraft Journal: Jeremy, you’ve got quite a bit more time under your belt as a racer. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jeremy Poper: I’m from Albuquerque, NM, and I have been riding skis for 30 years, [pretty much] spending weekends at the lake since my childhood. I have been racing competitively for 17 years. I race in Expert Vet Ski, Pro-Am Ski Stock, Pro-Am Ski Open. Rick Kantola at Peak Power Sports has worked on my skis and sponsored me through my racing career. With his help I learned that testing is key to making your setup the best it can be for your personal riding style. Everyone is different and every setup will be different from rider to rider.
WCJ: Right! And what have you found works best for you and your particular riding style?
JP: I have tested 4 different sets of sponsons on the new SX-R 1500. I was somewhat happy with the sponsons I was first running but really thought they could be better. After meeting Jason with JC Racing at World Finals, I had a chance to check out their new design and I was very interested in trying them out. Jason met me in Lake Havasu the day before the Mark Hahn Memorial to test his latest version of the JC Racing sponsons. Typically it takes a bit when you switch handling components on your ski to get a feel for them.
Surprisingly, the first lap I did with the new sponsons on I felt right at home and they had the extra holding edge I was looking for. The other major benefit was it stabilized the ski more, and it took out the “Kawasaki lean” as I call it where the ski goes from chine to chine in a straight away. I would recommend anyone to try the JC Racing sponsons. With the adjustability of the backing plates, you can customize them to your riding style.