The signs along state road A1A all say “Welcome to Cocoa Beach,” and the town surely was in for some high speed action this weekend as the P1 AquaX Series came into town for the third consecutive year. Cocoa Beach is typically known as the surfing capital of the Eastern United States but it was transformed into a jet ski racer’s haven as the Grand Prix of the Seas event was going to showcase some of the most incredible jet ski riders from around the globe.
This weekend was going to be a huge event as not only was there going to be AquaX racing but also winner-take-all closed course racing. Why was this important, you might ask yourself? It was slated as the winners of the races in their respective classes were going to qualify to attend World Finals this year at Lake Havasu City, AZ.
Many of the locals were concerned if the recent Florida weather was going to play a factor in the weekend events, as it was rainy and gloomy the entire week leading up to this weekend. As Friday arrived, the weather gods decided that they wanted to shine on the beach and keep the sun shinning throughout the weekend’s events, as it was nothing but gorgeous sunny skies. The racers arrived throughout the day and got a chance to practice in Cocoa Beach’s unpredictable waters.
Saturday started off with Moto One of the AquaX Series with all three classes running at the same time. In the 300 Class, it was a battle with Mike Klippenstein taking the lead, with local rider Chris Leo at the start of the race and the other 300 riders were chasing him down. As the race continued, positions changed back and forth but Klippenstein maintained his lead and it was more a question of who was going to come in second and third. At the end it was world points leader Eric “The Eagle” Francis and Jason Russo who finished out the top three respectively.
In the 250 Class it was Factory Yamaha/Dean’s Team Brian Baldwin who came across with the win in the first race followed by teammate Paloma Noceda. Rounding off the top three in the 250 Class was Rookie David Gorie. The 200 Class had its usual top rider Travis Zielasko on top for the first race as he has been accomplishing the top spot almost all season long. Tommy Olswang, who rode his GPR1300 to a second place finish followed Travis, and Rob Greenwald rounded out the class for the third spot.
Following the first race of the weekend for AquaX, Cocoa Beach welcomed riders who were participating in the IJSBA races. The Junior skiers started the day of with their race, where Haden Skellet took the win over his sister Taylor Skellet and Sammy Nehme. The kids did an outstanding job and loved racing in the surf. It just shows that these kids are the future of racing.
Following the Junior races, the riders competed in the Novice/NA Runabout where AquaX racers Anthony Radetic, Travis Zielasko, and Jeffrey Thorton were hoping to show off their riding capabilities in the closed course arena. The Sport GP Class, Pro-Am Runabout Open and Stock, and the Pro-Am Ski GP class races followed with familiar racers to the conditions of riding in the surf conditions.
The final event for the first day of racing concluded with the second AquaX race. The 300 Class was won by Mike Klippentsein, and followed by Domenico Barilla and Enrique Chia rounding the top three spots. In the 250 Class Sea-Doo team rider Eric Lagopoulos came away with the top spot followed by David Gorie and Brian Baldwin. In the 200 Class it was Travis Zielasko, Chad Saxon and Rob Greenwald. All had a great first day of racing and everyone was already looking forward to getting back out there on Sunday.
Sunday morning arrived with sun shining bright just over the horizon and the riders getting their morning briefing before the racing began. The Juniors started the day of with their races and followed by the other races in the order that occurred the day before. The final race of the weekend for the AquaX riders then took place. The 300 Class was won by Klippenstein for a sweep of the weekend as Enrique Chia received an overall second for his first podium of the season. Jason Russo came in strong for a third place win to round out the top three.
In the 250 Class the overall winner was Dean’s Team Brian Baldwin followed by Paloma Noceda and Eric Lagopoulos . The 200 Class ended with Travis Zielasko taking the overall win and extending his overall lead for the series. The Class was rounded off with Chad Saxon and Rob Greenwald.
The final set of races for the weekend showed Mike Klippenstein that he was the ironman for placing on top in his races in AquaX and numerous classes in the closed course arena. The closest race of the weekend was the Pro-Am GP as Sea-Doo rider Erminio Iantosca leading the entire race followed by Factory Yamaha/Dean’s Team Abdullah Al-Fadhel and Team Kawasaki’s Eric Francis. The race finished with all three riders finishing within five seconds of each other respectively.
The weekend was a huge success. A lot of the riders focused their eyes on racing on the Gulf Coast of Florida in the city of Naples and the AquaX racers focused their eyes on the next and final round of the year. The final round will be on October 24th and 25th held in the City of Tavares.
IJSBA National Closed Course Championships Junior Ski: Haden Skellett; Women’s Ski: Bibi Carmouche; Amateur Ski Limited: Bibi Carmouche; Pro Ski GP: Tyron Motzouris; Novice Runabout Stock: Travis Zielasko; N/A Runabout: Chad Saxon; Pro/Am Open Runabout: Erminio Iantosca; Pro/Am Stock Runabout: Abdulla Al-Fadhel; Sport GP: Johnny Smith; Sport Spec: Glen Jung; Rec Lite: Paul Green; Freestyle: Chris Anyzeski