The Watercraft Journal: What was your first exposure to the JetPilot brand? How did you know of the brand?
Mark Gomez: I actually knew JetPilot before I knew what a jet ski was because in the opening scenes of the vintage jet ski movie “JetDreams” JetPilot was the presenting sponsor at the time which was the first logo to appear in the movie. From then on moving forward to seeing the brand still alive as I grew up to today I think it was the meant to be brand for watersports and especially jet skiing.
WCJ: I remember that movie. Back when you were just a grom were there any JetPilot riders that impressed/inspired you?
MG: From the roots as I explained previously, Larry Rippenkroeger, Scott Watkins and Chris Fischetti inspired me for years before I ever thought I’d be a part of the scene. When I began to ride out of Oceanside in 2004, riders like Ross Champion, Pierre Maxient, Taylor Curtis, and Joe Kenny really shined a light on the present day heroes of the brand.
WCJ: How did you become sponsored by JetPilot? Can you tell us about that experience?
MG: Long time commitment paying it forward is what I believe lead to my direct involvement with JetPilot. For the longest time I purchased all of my JetPilot gear through the shop I worked for and or any other online retail avenues to get the certain vest or color combinations I wanted to get. I invested in the brand for years and never thought anything else. As I progressed I began to reach out and get to know the marketing reps within the company who began to seek interest providing some gear from the USA side of things in 2013.
Realistically though, it was Darren Attard from JetPilot Australia who really invested in me and saw interest from my passion and dedication to the sport. I’ll never forget my first time stopping by the JetPilot HQ in Queensland (where I believe the brand really shines the way it should be here in the USA). He let me go on a spree of getting anything I needed from gear to apparel. This was treatment I had only heard of by guys like Joe, Taylor, Rick, and Ross. JetPilot Japan has also supported me unconditionally every time I visit as well. The worldwide support and recognition is extremely cool and rewarding. I am really thankful for their continued support.
WCJ: What does it mean to be only one of two officially sponsored JetPilot riders (the other being Chris MacClugage)?
MG: It’s a great feeling to be one of those recognized riders for them over time. I know JetPilot USA is making big strides to catch up in a market where they definitely are under their potential. I am excited to be apart of it’s recovery into the modern era of social media marketing and brand awareness among the industry. It’s been a dream of mine to be apart of the the brand. I just saw the newest JetPilot USA catalog which has a lot of my content I have provided for them. It’s a great feeling especially coming from my roots, it means a lot.
WCJ: What design elements/materials/etc. do you find in JetPilot riding gear that you don’t find anywhere else?
MG: The quality of the products that have been innovative for the lifestyle of jet skiing and also now many other watersports is what has always gravitated me towards JetPilot. The race john, tour coat, ride shoes, back braces, stickers, and all of the bad ass apparel that goes with it. They were the ones who pushed the designs that really grabbed colors and options for all different OEM and aftermarket concepts. I also run a custom tailored 3/2 from time to time made for me by JetPilot Japan.
WCJ: What JP gear are you currently using?
MG: I am currently running the JetPilot Green Matrix John set up. I also have the Red & Yellow John set up as well for my Jetsurf thanks to JetPilot AUS. I am a huge fan of the Phantom glove series they have as well. They are lightweight, grippy and flexible. I always wear about the smallest size I can because they conform and flex so well. The side entry vest are a great USGC-approved vest that I feel safe wearing. As I push the limits, it’s nice to have peace of mind I’ll be floating face up if it ever gets too crazy.
WCJ: What advice would you give to any aspiring free rider/free style/racer looking to become sponsored by JetPilot?
MG: My best advice is to invest in the brand. There is a lot of entitlement these days in the riding field. I see many people going for only what the best deal is. As a company, it’s warmer recognition if you invest in the product and promote it because you do sincerely want to be apart of it. If you get a sweet shot and the gear and or JetPilot logo is exposed, throw them a tag on social media toward the image. The more they see, the more you are in their spotlight. Give them a call and get to know someone in marketing. It helps being relevant, letting them know you are active and invested into the brand without immediate conditional expectations. Resumes are great, but investment, action, and a personal connection to the staff in the office goes much further.
It means the most to me to be representing the brand after years of investment as I worked my way up with my riding career. I look forward to seeing more legit riders wearing the same awesome riding gear I chose to wear and building up the brand and the whole damn sport worldwide again like in the 90’s if not better.
All images provided by Reggie Torrefranca, courtesy of JetPilot