18 Times Over: Chris MacClugage Brings His Total To 18 World Championships


Excellence is equated not by a one-time stellar performance, but the continued exhibition of talent and skill time and time again. This level of reliability is what etches names of persons into the annals of history. And it is this repeated dominance in the realm of jet ski racing that has elevated Chris MacClugage to a new level of competitor.

On his triumphant weekend at this year’s World Finals, Chris MacClugage became the highest winning PWC racer in history.
Image: Gerónimo García Burés

On the cusp of his 40th birthday, MacClugag’s performance at this year’s Hot Products IJSBA World Finals in Lake Havasu City, Arizona earned him World Championships in Pro Sport, Pro Ski Open and Pro Ski GP classes, bringing his total to 18 career championships. This of course, only compounds with his near-limitless list of wins, including 15 National championships, three Thailand Kings Cup championships, two Japanese championships, and two European Indoor championships.

In light of this past month’s performance, MacClugage has earned himself permanent entry into legend, equal – if not superior – to the likes of Jeff Jacobs, Victor Sheldon, Scott Watkins, David Gordon and others.

Dubbed the GOAT, or the Greatest Of All Time by friends, colleagues and fellow competitors, Chris MacClugage, who was once known as merely “The Kid” has grown into his own as the sport of jet ski racing’s most decorated and highest winning World Champion athlete.

In an interview with havasunews.com, MacClugage stated, “There has definitely been ups and downs. To win this one (Pro Ski Open), when you win this one, it is like you are at the peak of your sport. I have not won this one since ’95. I have not raced the class every year. I think I have raced the class since ’95 eight times…but those eight times I failed miserably.”

Riding a highly modified Kawasaki SX-R ski and Bullett Racing’s variant on Kawasaki’s X2 platform, MacClugage showed that age, prior defeats and stiff competition aren’t insurmountable. Image: Tim Gewecke

This year, MacClugage came prepared to win. “I was so confident, not cocky, but just confident, like I could do anything on a Jet Ski,” he explained. “I felt like the water was my canvas and I had a brush that just never missed a stroke.”

Considered still the most lauded class in PWC racing, the Pro Open Ski class had escaped MacClugage’s grasp since 1995. Not since 2001’s win by Jeff Jacobs has the Pro Ski Open class been won by an American. MacClugage was more than happy to change that.
Image: Frederic Schnaebele

MacClugage, who was also the first to win both Pro Ski Open and Pro Ski GP in the same year, started 2013 with a stellar win at February’s 9th annual Mark Hahn Memorial 300 together with teammate Jean-Bruno Pastorello.

After the Hahn, Macc shared concerns that runabout racing was becoming more about the speed than the rider’s skill and felt safer competing aboard a ski in the closed course.

MacClugage then partnered with Bullett Racing, which provided him not only the support necessary to hone three championship-worthy craft, but a unique level of interaction that would allow MacClugage’s 26-years worth of experience to influence the execution of each craft.

When asked concerning his weekend sweep and his status as the winningest racer in IJSBA history, MacClugage beamed, “I am so grateful to have my wife Rachel, my son Macc and so many friends and family supporting me. I want to thank my sponsors Macc Racing, Bullett Racing, Monster Energy, JetPilot and Hydro-Turf for supporting me all these years.”

With another child on the way, MacClugage will be hanging up his helmet for the remainder of 2013, choosing rather to focus on his teaching and training. “What I really enjoy is helping kids race. I trained Aaron Gewecke,” Chris said. “He basically started racing at the beginning of this year, and he’s only been racing for eight months.”

Gewecke clenched the win for Amateur Ski class at the World Finals. “It was another thing that helped me out through the week; the success of someone that I invested time in.” MacClugage shared. In fact, sharing has become a major portion of MacClugage. As a husband, a father, a mentor and coach, MacClugage’s career success has brought him into a new light, that of a teacher.

Lead image: Woramun Boonrawd

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Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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