Beautiful weather and big surf met the participants of the traveling road show called Pro Watercross Tour in Atlantic City, NJ on the weekend of July 22-23. And, as usual, the large summer beach crowds came to enjoy the big air and competitive racing. Thanks to the City, the event site was moved down the boardwalk to a much more accommodating pit parking lot that was closer to the actual beach than in previous years. It was apparent too that the entire Pro Watercross Tour staff had worked hard to put on a great event for both the fans and the racers.
Pro-Am Ski Stock was the largest Pro class and it was filled with crafty veterans! Jimmy Wilson had them covered on borrowed property! Sammy Nehme lent Wilson his ski for the weekend and the Broward Motorsports ride seemed to suit Wilson as he went 1-1-1 for a clean sweep for the weekend overall. Matthew Richuk looked fast as well but his performance may have been overshadowed by controversy as the Pro Watercross staff mis-scored Rick Sherker in the class giving the second overall spot to Richuk.
Sherker who legitimately went 2-2-2 on the weekend was unfortunately scored incorrectly but the time restraint rules prevented the error to be corrected by Pro Watercross. (According to their rule book competitors have 30 minutes after results are posted on the pit board at the event to dispute scoring issues). The aftermath was a bit ugly as most of the competitors agreed that Sherker deserved the second place overall finish and purse money as he had earned it.
Pro Watercross’ own Nicholas Handler told The Watercraft Journal, “Yes, our scorer did make a mistake and we have reached out to Mr. Richuk and Rick Sherker last week to resolve the matter at hand. Right now, we are waiting to hear back from the Richuks’ to finalize and correct the incident, and we will be making an official statement ASAP.” As the time of this writing, the Richuks had not stepped up to correct the situation.
Pro-Am Ski GP was dominated by Jimmy Wilson who went 1-1-2 for the overall. But some great rides by Kawasaki’s Craig Warner yielded a Moto 3 win and a second overall. Mr. Consistent Rick Sherker took the last spot on the podium going 3-2-3 for the weekend.
Big waves equaled big air for the guys in Pro-Am Runabout Box Stock and the races were exciting.Troy Snider continued his winning ways as the overall winner despite not winning an actual Moto this weekend. The Moto wins were split between 3 competitors with Dylan Osborn winning Moto 1, Daniel Wagner winning Moto 2, and Jeff Dyckowski taking Moto 3. Dyckowski finished second overall with a 3-3-1 and Osborne took third overall going 1-4-3.
Dylan Osborn had a great weekend in Pro-Am Runabout GP covering the field by taking all three Moto wins for the overall. Jeff Dyckowski went 2-2-3 for second overall. And Chris Caputo went 3-3-2 for third overall.
The Sport classes continue to be the largest classes and a fan favorite as the racing is typically close and exciting! In Sport GP it was Keith Dill on his Wade Chapin tuned blaster that was able to survive the big surf going 1-2-3 for the overall. Christian Daly had a fast HX but was only able to muster a 2-3-2 for second overall. Defending Champ Sam Nehme had a rare mechanical issue in Moto 1 that squashed his chances at the overall, but Moto 2 and 3 wins enabled him to at least round out the podium on the last spot for the weekend.
In Sport Stock it was Christian Daly pulling out all the stops on his stock HX to go 1-1-1 for the overall while Eric Gabriel muscled his HX to a 2-2-2 for second overall. The rest of field had to deal with the big surf conditions and attrition took its toll. Keith Dill was able to be most consistent for the third place on the overall podium going 5-3-5.
In Amateur Runabout SS it looked like Justin Taylor had the field covered bagging wins in Moto 1 and Moto 2 with Joe Johnson going 2-2 and wining Moto 3 for second overall. Michael Borges rounded out the last spot on the podium with a steady 3-3-3 finish for the weekend.
Columbian-Canadian and adopted US friend and racer Juan Rada had his hands full with Jason Lester and Michael Borges in the Amateur Runabout Box Stock class but again, consistency over the 3 Moto format was his saving grace. Rada put together a 2-1-3 weekend for the overall while Lester was able to pilot his Yamaha to 2 Moto wins and a 1-7-1 to take third overall. Michael Borges quietly snuck into the second place overall position with a 3-2-2 finish. It was all Eric Gabriel in IROC GP, which has become a regular occurrence in the class.
The Amateur Ski Stock class welcomed back Team Faith’s Kelly Smith who was returning from a serious back injury he sustained while racing Arenacross in the winter. Brett Underhill wasn’t giving anything to anyone and grabbed the holeshot and lead and win in Moto 1. While the 2 Team Faith riders Kelly Smith and Dawson Newby finished second and third respectively. But it was all Kelly Smith in Moto 2 as Underhill had to settle for second. Newby took another third in Moto 2.
The last Moto on Sunday would be an exciting one in this class as Kelly Smith jumped out to an early lead and Dawson Newby close in tow in second. Underhill was in third but made several valiant attempts to get by both Newby and Smith only to find himself swimming each time and coming from behind. He’s eventually finish third in the Moto, but up front on the last lap Dawson Newby made a late race charge at his teammate Smith to take the lead and eventual win. Smith took the overall with a 2-1-2, Underhill took second overall with a 1-2-3 and Newby took third with a 3-3-1.
Hayden Skellett continued to rack up the wins in the Jr Ski 10-12 class. His sister Taylor seemed to have the starts wired, but came up a little short going 3-3-3 for third overall. Sammy Nehme went 2-2-2 for second overall. Devon Farthing raced his way to the overall in the Jr. Ski Stock 13-15 class.
The IROC Stock class continues to grow as well and despite some regular competitors not making this round the field was healthy with new competitors to take their place. Current points leader and Champ Eric Gabriel stretched his Championship points lead by winning the overall going 1-3-1. Jason Lester put his RIVA sponsored Yamaha EX on the box with a consistent 2-2-2 run. And Team Faith’s Kelly Smith made his debut on a Spark in the class taking a Moto 2 win and putting together enough of weekend result to bring home third overall. In the only on-track collision of the weekend, Brian O’Rourke and Eric Degler got together in Moto 1 as they battled for second early on and it was reported that both guys sustained damage to their hulls that compromised the rest of their efforts for the weekend.
Other honorable mentions for the weekend include Tony Savage winning the overall in Veterans Runabout Box Stock and Sean Miles trading in his Sea-Doo Spark for the new Kawasaki 4-stroke where he won the overall in that class.
The weekend was filled with great racing, great spectator-ship, and great weather! And despite the rough seas, most of the racing community came together to help each other with holding and pulling each other out of the water. The camaraderie of the sport is unlike many and Watercross remains to be the obvious passion of many of the competitors and their families who continue to come support the sport. Next stop is Lake Hartwell, GA on August 12-13.