The 2017 East Coast Watercross Tour by Jet Renu came to an end this past weekend in Niantic, Connecticut and it was one for the record books! Rounds 9 and 10 were a mid-season add-on to the tour but what a beautiful race site it turned out to be with a mile long beach and perfect weather all weekend – sunny and in the mid-80s. The town came out in full support of the tour with local restaurant/night club Sunset Rib House not only coming on as a sponsor but also hosting an after party for the racers, creating a new drink called the “jet ski” and even sending out a party bus to transport racers from the camping area to Sunset Rib’s and back. You literally couldn’t ask for more!
With a total of 10 rounds for the season, it is amazing to see how much this series has grown in only its second year. With the Tour Championships taking place September 23rd and 24th (just a week before the IJSBA World Finals in Lake Havasu, Arizona) there was some worry regarding what the turnout would be but it didn’t seem to stop the racers from coming out in full force. Several classes including Expert Runabout 4-Stroke, Expert Ski Lites, Expert Spark Lites, and even Super Chicken had fuller lines than the previous rounds in Watkins Glen which is typically the series most attended rounds.
Going into the final rounds of racing for the season many racers were only separated by a few points in several classes. The Top 3 racers in Expert Ski Lites were only separated by a total of 15 points, the top 2 in Super Chicken were only separated by 5 points and X2 Open Top 2 were separated by 4 little points. This creates the kind of excitement championship weekends are all about.
In Expert Ski Lites two pros joined the line for Round 9 and once again decided to shake things up. Mike Kelberer had an idea from something he saw in the mid-’90s where one racer would start on the line with his ski facing the beach. At Kevin Kennedy’s request the guys decided to try it. With Rick Sherker and Kelberer facing the beach for Moto 1, the rest of the pack was unleashed onto to the course and after several seconds the pros turned their skis around and joined the race. It was Sherker who made it through the pack and finished in first place but due to several of the points championship leaders missing a certain buoy second and third place ultimately went to Charlie McCarthy and Cole Moriarty.
In Moto 2, Kelberer was the one to catch and as Sherker was catching up to him mid-race he suffered a ski malfunction allowing Kelberer to easily take the win. By the end of round 9 the top 3 contenders for the tour championship were involved in a nearly 3-way tie. It came down to the last moto of Round 10 for the championship to be decided between the three competitors but in the end it was Glenn Foster with the win closely followed by Billy Beers Jr. in second and Matthew Vitrano in third.
One of the most entertaining classes of the series affectionately named Super Chicken saw its biggest line of the season in Niantic, CT. There were a total of 8 Kawasaki Sport Cruisers on the line in Round 9 and the points chase for the championship was undeniably close. Due to a new ruling earlier in the season by the IJSBA, racers were now allowed to apply sponsons to their skis to improve their handling which some racers took advantage of in earlier rounds but championship contender Gwen Bitting just added days before round 9. Bitting and Steve Hotchkiss were separated by 5 points going into championship weekend and it was Bitting who was able to come out the regional champion for the Super Chicken class followed by her friendly rival Steve Hotchkiss in second and Kayla Pilszka in third.
The weekend was not all about the racing. September is “Childhood Cancer Awareness Month,” so Christopher Hyslop, whose two sons race in the series, decided to #gogold for the weekend in an effort to raise money for the cause. For every moto Chase or Logan won Chris donated $100 and for every overall win he donated $200. After the weekend and several donations from the Region 8 family a total of $1,725 was raised and went toward Pediatric Cancer Research.
The East Coast Watercross Tour is more than just a few people getting together to run around buoys on skis. Yes, that may be how we all have fun but the friends that become family are what make this Region great. Don’t believe me? Join us for a round or 2 next season and see for yourself. Let’s continue to make Region 8 great again! Be sure to check out www.eastcoastwatercross.com for the complete list of classes and series results.