After the busy weekend at the sunny coast battling it out in the IFWA first round, I made my way back to the Gold Coast of Australia to spend time with my local friends and catch up with my family at WORX Racing Components. Gary and Emma Watson have recently purchased the brand and have been doing a fantastic job of building the brand up by improving production quality, and coming out with new innovative components for several different watercraft outside of the known sponsons, intake grates, and ride plates.
They had recently finished building a 2015 Sea-Doo Spark and bolted on all of their accessories and handling components onto it including their ECU reflash. I had a chance to ride a stock Spark a few days before and was impressed by its handling but was a bit let down overall by its lack of performance for such small fun craft. I then took out the WORX Spark and absolutely loved it with a night and day noticeable difference.
The WORX Billet Steering System feels much smoother and stable. Combined with the easy ergonomic billet finger throttle and start/stop button housing is a must-have for anyone who owns a Spark. The ECU reflash/tune made a considerable difference in throttle response with the fly-by-wire system set in sport mode. With their rideplate, sponsons, and intake grate, the ski felt like it was on rails, completely hooked up in every corner making it a fun, aggressive, and smooth tracking ski to ride.
Feeling out all of these new changes, I got their blessing and took it out to where I feel most comfortable and the hardest R&D test conditions for the ski and parts – in the surf! Not knowing what to expect, I eased into a few waves and really started to enjoy how flickable the ski was especially with the durability of the added WORX steering system and power from the ECU tune. I had so much fun that toward the end of the trip I mentioned to Gary Watson (the owner of WORX), that I believed flipping it would be possible.
He again gave me his blessing to get it done, so I extended my trip an extra week to have the best shot at making this Spark flip happen. We removed the top deck and we installed Hydro-Turf 9mm underpadding into the foot trays along with some modeled diamond turf for traction and shock absorption. Along with that, we installed DaKine footstraps to keep me locked in and in control when going inverted off the waves.
I took the Spark out a few times, quickly learning its strengths and weaknesses in the surf when pushed into things like barrel rolls and nose stabs. I quickly got the hang of nose stabs, which lead to getting barrel rolls down in a sequence Skippy got during a rainy day at Kingscliff. The next time I rode at stride, I attempted the backflip but miscalculated my approach to the wave and didn’t get the pop off the lip that I needed to completely bring the rotation around.
Landing upside down, I learned that the removable maintenance panels need to be secured so that they don’t pop off like they did and immediately sink the capsized ski. With plenty of on-board floatation we got it to the beach, drained it and then got it back to the shop where I spent the rest of the day getting the water out of the engine and running again.
The day before I left, we took off to Straddle early in the morning to attempt another flip with all the repairs and modifications in place. Unfortunately, the surf was not at my side so I decided to go for a barrel roll to warm things up and with an awkward rotation ended up landing completely flat and sideways tweaking my ankle and ending my ride. The PolyTec hull is light and is extremely buoyant making the landing awfully hard because it didn’t want to penetrate the water as much as fiberglass skis do with the extra weight.
Working on this Spark flip production with WORX has been one heck of an adventure and learning experience putting me hands on with all of their quality built performance products and this new ski overall. I had a blast trying some barrel rolls, catching some waves, attempting to flip the thing, and getting some cool photo sequences out of it. I gave it my best and realized that the Spark backflip is absolutely possible with the right things in place. That being said, I strongly advise against anyone to attempt it without the right safety equipment, and overall surf riding experience.
Thank you to Andrew Donovan for all of the photos and being apart of the rescue and production team as well as Gary and Emma Watson, Matty Elliot, and Justin Belczowski at WORX for making this experience all possible.
All images courtesy of Photos by Skip and unaltered, full-resolution versions can be purchased HERE.