This past weekend has been one that many racers and fans have been waiting for to get here: the AquaX race series’ final round. Originally slated for St. Petersburg, FL. in front of the pier, the AquaX team had to try and find a new venue due to the pier being demolished. Their location choice came down to Lake Dora in the City of Tavares.
After last month’s Grand Prix of the Seas in beautiful Cocoa Beach, everyone wanted to see who the top winners of the year were going to be. Saturday’s event had to share time with sister event, the P1 SuperStock boat races as they too had their final race of the year to crown their champions, and the City of Tavares’ planned seaplane event where airplanes were taking off and landing on the water.
After the mandatory rider’s briefing, the racers had some down time to make sure their skis were tuned in and ready to go. While this was happening, the seaplanes had a pumpkin drop from the air in celebration of the upcoming Halloween holiday. Sea-Doo had their brand new 2016 RXP-X 300 and RXT-X on hand for demo rides and the racers, fans and yours truly took our turn test riding the new machinery. All came back raving about the great product that Sea-Doo had come up with.
Finally, the racers fired up their skis and took to the water for the first moto of the weekend. All classes ran together for this final round. For this final round there was a noticeable absence from the Aswar brothers, Aero and Aqsa. This left things wide open for their teammate Mike Klippenstein to try to cement his lead in the 300 Class over Eric “The Eagle” Francis and Blaine Spooner. Both Francis and Spooner had different ideas on this though.
The 300 Class started their run to the first buoy with Spooner and Francis fighting for the hole shot. Francis took the lead and not relinquish it. Klippenstein seemed to be running slower than normal and it showed in the final standings, finishing seventh in the first moto behind other racers, Spooner and Francis.
In the 250 Class, it was the usual top three of Brian Baldwin, Eric Lagopoulos and Paloma Noceda that everyone kept their eyes on. They finished first, second and third respectively for the first moto. In the 200 Class, Travis Zielasko was determined that the championship and racing was a mere formality to complete the season on a high note. For his teammate and fellow 200 Class rider, Rob Greenwald, this weekend’s races were going to be bittersweet as it was his last in his long and illustrious career. They finished like they had for almost the whole year in the number one and two spots with the third spot taken by Chad Saxon for the first moto of the weekend.
As with other venues this year, racers from the Ski Class and Sport Class joined the runabouts. In the Ski Class, Johnny Smith took the first race of the weekend over his rival Broc Harris and David Cabrera. Smith then hopped off his Ski and jumped on his ‘Blaster in the Sport Class and pulled a win over riders Glen Jung and Lusito Yumang.
Day Two had everyone excited to see what was going to happen. The 300 Class had Klippenstein taking the win followed by Spooner and Saxon. In the 250 Class, it was Baldwin followed by Paloma Noceda and Sea-Doo rider Eric Lagopoulos rounding out the top three. The 200 Class was won by you guessed it, Travis Zielasko, Rob Greenwald and Chad Saxon. David Cabrera took the win in Ski Class followed by Broc Harris and Johnny Smith. The Sport Class was up next and Glen Jung checkered with the win followed by Smith and Yumang.
During the down time Fly Boarder Kristen Smoyer put on a show for the fans as she is one of the best fly boarders in the United States. This was going to be a pre-show for the flyboard World Finals that are taking place later this year in Dubai and she did not disappoint.
Finally, it was time for the third and final moto of the year: The race started as normal then things took a turn for the worse: Chris Leo spun out, which tossed him. Then Saxon, close behind ran over his ski, totaling it (Thankfully, Saxon and his ski were OK). Unfortunately, by the time Leo popped back up in the water, he was run over by Jeff Thorton. It all happened so quickly there was nothing anyone could have done differently. Leo sustained a broken jaw, and was airlifted from the scene.
The racing was suspended due to the severity of the accident, which changed the schedule a little bit and pushed up the Ski and sport Class racing for their final race of the year. In the Ski Class, Broc Harris took the win followed by Johnny Smith and David Cabrera. In the Sport Class Glen Jung took the win followed by Smith and Benjie Binford.
The runabouts were sent back out on the water and the final race of the year went off without incident. Eric Francis grabbed the final checkered of the year in the 300 Class followed by Mike Klippenstein and Frank Silva. In the 250 Class, it was a tight race between Noceda and Lagopoulos, who narrowly sealed the deal before an untimely getoff opened the door for Lagopoulos to pull ahead. Brian Baldwin, Eric Lagopoulos, and Anya Colley rounding out the top three. The 200 Class ended with the same three that had been winning so many times this season Travis Zielasko, Rob Greenwald and Chad Saxon.
For the season’s championships, the 300 Class went to Yamaha rider Mike Klippenstein who took home the gold by a 56-point margin. For the 250 Class, Sea-Doo’s Eric Lagopoulos came in ahead of Yamaha riders Paloma Noceda and Brian Baldwin respectfully. In AquaX 200 action, Travis Zeilasko and his Yamaha remained undefeated this season, earning the championship. Broc Harris came home with the Ski Class championship with Glen Jung taking home the hardware for the Sport Class.
The 2015 AquaX season finally came to an end with racers saying their goodbyes. It was a fun season with some new venues, and a lot more racers. It was a season full of fun, heartbreak and excitement. It just proves that AquaX will be around for quite some time and proves that it is one of the best professionally run events of the water world. See you next year!
For all of the results from this past weekend’s AquaX Series in Tavares, click the hyperlinks for the 300 class, 250 class and 200 classes. The Ski class and Sport Spec class are also available by clicking the respective hyperlinks.