The Watercraft Journal: For those of our readers who might not be acquainted with you, can you please tell us a little bit about you and your 20-year career racing jet skis? What ski did you first start on? And what brought you to race in Pro-Am Ski?
Dave Davidson: Thanks Kevin for the opportunity to tell people a little bit about myself. I first rode a jet ski back in 1988 while on vacation in Ft. Meyers Beach, FL. I think it was a 440 Kawasaki and I did not do great at all. But for some reason, I was determined that I was going to look into buying something when I got back home to Burlington, Ontario. After a little research (remember we didn’t have any internet back then [laughs]), I found that Kawasaki made an X2. This looked like it would be a little easier to ride than the traditional “stand-up” ski, being that it had fixed handlebars instead of a moving pole.
So after driving to some different dealers, I bought a brand new, 1989 Kawasaki X2. The owner’s son, Mike Burr, informed me that they actually race jet skis, something that I was not aware of living in Canada, and that he was going to a race in Wasaga Beach in a few weeks. I tagged along, but only watched. By the second event, I was ready to give it a try. We didn’t have a lot of riders in the X2 class, and I don’t even remember where I finished, but it seemed that I was hooked. Kawasaki Canada was the sole promoter of racing in Canada for the first few years and set-up a cross country, National Tour series in 1990, as well as regional (Provincial) series across the country. This sport seemed to explode in popularity overnight as the 1990 season saw full lines and often qualifiers at all the events. With the help of Mike Burr, who was the major driving force behind my early racing career, I made it to all of the National and Provincial races.
That year I won the National X2 Limited & X2 Modified Championships, as well as the Provincial Series Championship. I followed that up with 1991 National and Provincial Championships. I was invited both years to go to Havasu to compete at the World Finials, but financially that was not an option for me. In 1994, I was looking for a change and switched to a 1994 Yamaha SuperJet, now that racing had opened up to all manufactures. I started in Novice Ski but after two races, I was moved to the Expert Class. I continued racing SuperJets until 2002, after winning several regional and national titles, I took a few years off of racing. Then, I came back to it in 2008 riding a stock Kawasaki SX-R. I started getting into the GP Ski Class in 2010 and had good success in Canada with both of these classes.
WCJ: You enjoyed a very successful time at the IJSBA World Finals last year. Can you tell us about your two World Championships that you took home? How did those races go?
DD: In 2014, I came really close to a title in the Masters Ski GP Class but I made a mistake on the first lap of Moto 1, and even though I thought I corrected it, scoring didn’t see it that way… In 2015, things reversed. In Masters Ski I didn’t have a great Moto 1 and thought that I had lost any hope of a podium finish. In Moto 2 I was third. This time, the scoring went in my favor and the leader was docked a lap for missing the merge lane buoys. As it played out, later that night I found out that I had won my first World Title. Not the most glamorous way of winning, or how I would have liked to win, but it was a win.
In Veteran Ski GP, which was the following day, I was second in Moto 1. The wind picked up huge for Moto 2 in the afternoon and I was a little worried. Moto 2 went great for me and I lead from start to finish, winning my second World Title. This was so much more rewarding as I got to cross the finish line knowing that I had won. That was a great feeling for sure… I know they weren’t exactly premier classes, but it was a great accomplishment for me personally all the same.
WCJ: We also know you dedicate a lot of your time to teaching/mentoring young kids looking to enter into the sport as well – even helping out with the Jr. Stars program last year. How was that?
DD: At 49 years old, I am well past my prime in this sport. When I started, we didn’t have anyone to teach us or learn from. There were no Junior classes available. I was 22 years old when I started racing. Today, many of the young riders have already quit racing by that age. I really enjoy working with the younger riders to pass on what I have learned and been through over the past 27 years.
Locally, I work with the riders during practice to push them a little as I know how much work it takes before you get to the starting line if you want to have success. When I was asked to mentor in the Jr. Stars program in Havasu, I was truly honored for the opportunity. These kids are great to work with at that level, and very skilled and talented. I hope that I can continue to work with the Jr. Stars program in Havasu for the remaining years that I still attend. Chris Haggest works very hard on this program and I am happy to help out where I can.
WCJ: You also assist Amy Green with the Ski Clinic. Can you tell us about how you got involved with that?
DD: I always wanted to offer this to Amy, but Josh Block asked if he could do it and I thought that was great as he has been through the Junior program himself, and is much closer in age to these kids than me. I look around and realize I’m older than most of their parents. I didn’t want the kids to think “who is this creepy old guy taking to us.” Josh asked me if I could lend a hand as it is tough when you have 10 or so juniors to keep track of. Again, passing on what I have learned over the years is so rewarding. I am just happy that there are kids there that want to listen and learn.
WCJ: Can you tell us about how you came to be a team rider for Jet X Powersports? How’s it being on the team?
DD: Ryan and Adrienne Dalli are some of the nicest, most dedicated people that I have met. I don’t think that there is a harder working guy than Ryan, as the amount of hours he puts in in a day are unbelievable. Ryan primarily worked with the runabout machines, as that is where most of his expertise lies. When he approached me and asked if I would like to be part of the team, I immediately said yes. I do most of my own stuff on my skis, and Ryan knew that, but he has helped out with parts and fuel costs over the past couple of years. All of the people associated with the Jet X Team are great. The support I get from them is invaluable as this is tough to do on you own, at this level.
WCJ: What are your plans for 2016? Will we see you again at Lake Havasu? What can we expect from Dave Davidson?
DD: It has been a tough start to the year for me. We had a really cold, crummy Spring and I got almost no riding in before heading to Florida to race first in the P1 AquaX and the Pro Watercross series. That was in May. Then the first round of our Canadian series is not until July 23rd. It makes it tough to train with such a big gap between races. I do plan on going to Havasu again, even though I was on the fence for a while. I put a lot pressure on myself to succeed in this sport.
After the success I had in Havasu last year, I know that I will not likely be able to duplicate that. That is something that I have been battling with. I come to realize that winning a World Title once is an amazing accomplishment for anyone. So many things have to go right for just two motos in order to win an overall title. I have seen many pros lose world titles on the last buoy. I tell the young riders that I work with not being discouraged if you don’t win. There can only be one winner of every race. Keep trying and give it your best every time. Never quit as long as you are having fun and enjoy what you are doing. I guess I have to live by my own words of advice.
WCJ: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
DD: The first person that I have to thank is my wife, Lori. She was with me the first time I rode a jet ski and has been with me and supported me ever since. I could have never accomplished what I have over the years without her hard work in keeping me going all these years. Other sponsors that I would like to thank are Dedicated Plastic Tanks that help me with a lot of financial backing. Steel Tech’s Mark and Andrew Bezan for the custom steel work in my trailer and beach carts, but mostly for being a great holder and crew at the races for the last four years. Jeff Caswell who also helps both during practice and at the World Finals. Optimum Racing for some great custom wetsuits. Jet Trim for keeping me on my skis. Bullett for building great hulls and helping me make them go fast. Of course all of the Jet X Powersports crew as they help out everywhere and continue to keep this sport fun for me.