The P1 Aqua X race season kicked off their final round for the year in the city of Fort Lauderdale, Fl. This was a going to be a huge event, as many racers from across the world were planned to attend. Phil Pope made the trek from the United Kingdom, Mike Klippenstein arrived from Canada and Michele Colasanto came in from Italy. There were also be racers that attended from across the Pacific Ocean. Ronghua Wu and Dezhi Yue made the trip all the way from China. It was a total of twenty-one racers who would be on the staring line in the Pro Class.
A few months ago Fort Lauderdale was the scene of red tide and a fish kill that moved into the area from the Gulf side of the state. Fortunately things cleared up and racing was set to go. The racers received their mandatory safety briefing and were given instructions. The new marine observer team canvased the course from the helicopter above. Would this new team be more forgiving or would they put racing on extreme holds would be the question. They cleared the course for racing and the event started with Amateur Class athletes. The racers were pumped, as they wanted to prove themselves in front of the spectators on hand. The temperature was a little chilly with winds coming in from the east due to a slight cold front that had moved into the area earlier in the week.
The thirty-four racers lined up on the starting line, the green flag dropped and racing had started. The points leader with 135 for the Amateurs coming into the weekend was Dave Davidson after a great showing in St. Cloud last month. Yaniel Fiallo was close behind by a mere 11 points and George Holmquist with 100. Fiallo got the holeshot for the start of the race. The water conditions were starting to pick up and it was definitely going to be a challenge for all racers on the water. Holmquist took the lead over from Fiallo. As he approached the final turn buoy close to the shore, Holmquist hit the buoy and was docked points if he didn’t take the penalty buoy. Luckily for him he did take the penalty buoy and was able to hold onto the lead and gained 25 points for Round One. Fiallo came in second and garnered 20 points.
Next up was the first moto for the Pro racers. The overall points leader coming into the event was Eric ‘The Eagle” Francis. Francis was feeling pretty confident in his boat and would only have to place in the top three in two of his races for the weekend to solidify winning the championship for the year. His Broward Motorsports teammate, Chris MacClugage was aiming to catch up to Francis as he was currently in second place, followed by Brian Baldwin. As the first moto started, it would be the United Kingdom’s Phil Pope who took the holeshot and looked strong. It looked like he wanted to show the United States why Pope is the European series champion.
Unfortunately, starting fast and strong isn’t always the best course in an endurance race when it is more about pacing yourself. On the back straight, Pope came off his ski allowing MacClugage to take the lead. Half way through the moto, Macc also came off his ski close to the shore. Right behind him was Eric Francis. Francis, even with the possibility of giving points up to Macc, witnessed the dismount and stopped to pick MacClugage up prior to the safety marshals getting there, transporting him to his ski to continue on. It was a true act of sportsmanship for the two teammates. They finished the moto with MacClugage taking the win and Francis placing second. Brian Baldwin experienced some issues while out on the track and finish in the rear.
The rest of the day continued with the Sport/Spark race. The series welcomed Tory Snyder to the race scene and his parents Troy Snyder and Jennifer Senna Snyder looked on with pride. Winning the moto was Jason Lester followed by Jason Bellinzoni and Tory Snyder. Then the Pro Sprint Class followed. Things appeared to be going on without a hitch. Finally there was slight break in the action and Kristen Smoyer took to the air on her Flyboard for the crowd. The BMX team that performed jumps and tricks on the beach also entertained them. The fans were also supplied with refreshments from the series sponsor Rip It energy drinks. After the break was over, it was the Pros who again hit the water. This time though, the winds had picked up and there were some rollers out on the water. Again, it was Chris MacClugage who would take the win. Eric Francis finished in second place and sealed up the championship for the year.
The final moto of the day was the Amateur class. They definitely had to read the water conditions as they had seen what had happened with the Pros. The Amateurs hadn’t seen these types of conditions all year and it was definitely a challenge. Justin Taylor came away with the win just like he did in St. Cloud despite the conditions over Yaniel Fiallo. Scott Reeves took the win in the 200 Class. Everyone had a great time racing and was looking forward to the next day to wrap up the season.
The next day arrived with an early start. As is customary, the riders had their rider’s meeting where instructions and a review of the previous day were given. Afterwards, the Amateur racers launched their machines and prepared to race. The temperature had risen from the previous day and it definitely felt like typical Florida weather. Once the racers were lined up, the green flag was dropped but the moto was immediately red flagged due to a collision. The marshals quickly got the racers back to the start and again a start was made. The green flag was dropped and again, the race was red flagged due to numerous riders coming off their skis. The racers were marshaled to the start line once more. This time the green flag was dropped and racing was in full effect. Yaniel Fiallo took the win in his class.
After the Sport/Spark and Sprint races, it was time for the Pros to get on the water for their third race of the weekend. Brian Baldwin took the holeshot and he battled Chris MacClugage throughout the race. They went back and forth with the leader changing throughout, but it was Baldwin who got the win. Eric Francis didn’t finish the race because of a seat issue. This would not affect his championship as he had already won it from the day before. Mike Klippenstein came in third followed by Sophie Francis and Dennis Mack rounding out the top five for the moto.
Due to the complications of previous locations throughout the year, P1 Aqua X added a fourth moto to both the Amateur class and Pro class. Justin Taylor took the win in the final moto of the year for the Amateurs but it was Yaniel Fiallo who would get the overall top podium spot. In the Pro class, it was Eric Francis who would take the win in the final moto. Christian Daly and Brian Baldwin followed. Eric Francis was able to regain his crown after relinquishing it to Chris MacClugage the past two years and is now the number one racer for P1 Aqua X.
There were many ups and down for both the racers and series this year. Now with season over many are looking forward to next year and many are not. We shall see where the future takes them.