It was a weekend of upsets for those following the 19th annual Karujet Offshore Championships held once again off of the island nation of Guadalupe in the southern Caribbean Sea. A grueling marathon of six races over brutal open seas and battering ocean chop stretched over a week’s time, the Karujet is the ultimate (and longest continual) offshore event that presses racers and their equipment to the utmost. The championship has remained almost exclusively the property of local racers who cut their teeth in unforgiving conditions, with the occasional outsider snatching the title now and again.
Likewise, so has the tradition remained for the choice of craft. Since its introduction in 2007 and throughout its continual iterations until today’s Ultra 310X, Kawasaki’s Ultra has remained the watercraft of choice to sluice through the seafoam and breaking surf. Yet, all traditions were thrown out during this year’s Karujet; not only were the winning racers, Teddy Pons in GP1 Pro Runabout, and Cyril Lemoine in GP3 Runabout both from France, but their choice of craft – both riding Yamaha WaveRunner FX models – effectively overthrew years of conventional wisdom.
For Pons, this marks his second Karujet championship. He bested a full field of both international and local seasoned offshore racers starting the final day with a solid six minute lead over the field. Although Pons came in 4th place in both of the final day’s stages, his consistency pushed Pons into the top spot over Yann Ponama and Pascal Gounouman. Lemoine’s ascent to the top of GP3 class was seamless, as he extended his already sizeable lead made no mistakes in his quest for the GP3 Karujet title extending his overall lead to an incredible 44 minutes Vincent Thomas and Didier Merles Des Iles coming in second and third, respectively.
Americans Chris MacClugage and Eric Francis came to battle as well, with Macc winning the first day’s racing in GP3 class but fell short of the podium the rest of the week. The news came as an upset to many who banked on the rough sea state to hand the advantage over to Kawasaki, but the multi-faceted hull design and reliability of the FX models raced (Pons’ a supercharged SVHO and a naturally-aspirated FX HO for Lemoine) proved the craft’s potency as a versatile and sturdy machine even in the roughest test of man and machine in this sport.