On the 7th February 2015 over 30 of South Africa’s finest riders descended on the small town of Oranjeville in the Free State, to battle it out for Round 1 of the SAJSBA Nationals. With a fantastic line-up of 10 classes and three grueling motos, the racing was expected to be thrilling.
The day started off with all the riders practicing on the challenging race track designed by 2013 Pro Runabout Open World Champion Jared Moore. The racing began with the Novice Ski Limited Class which featured some promising novice riders. Moto 1 had a surprising start with a newcomer, Estiaan Steenkamp, taking the holeshot on his #48 Yamaha SuperJet. Steenkamp has been racing in the South African off-road Motorcross Nationals for the past 13 years and has since decided to try watercraft racing.
Marcel De Ponte slotted in to second position on his #777 Kawasaki SX-R with our youngest Novice rider Dwane Hayes, who is 16 years old, hot on his heels on his #259 Kawasaki SX-R. On Lap 2, Hayes managed to move up in to second position, and on Lap 4 he took first position away from Steenkamp. Hayes held on to first all the way to the checkered flag, with Steenkamp and De Ponte taking second and third respectively.
In Moto 2 of the Novice Ski Limited class, Dwane Hayes took the holeshot but couldn’t hold off Estiaan Steenkamp as he took the lead on Lap 2. Hayes did not give up and managed to take the lead back on Lap 4 causing the Moto 2 results to mimic Moto 1. It was late in the afternoon when Moto 3 of the Novice Ski Limited class was ready to line up, a storm was rolling in and the wind had picked up causing rough water conditions.
Steenkamp took the holeshot and led the race from start to finish, Hayes crossed the finish line in a close second, and rounding out the Top 3 was Jake Fenenga. The Novice Ski Limited podium finishers were Marcel De Ponte in third, Estiaan Steenkamp in second and Dwane Hayes took the win.
Next up was the Veterans Runabout class with some exhilarating racing. The podium was as follows: first Peter Britz on his #153 Sea-Doo Centre Sea-Doo RXP-X, second was Christo Malan on his #5 Sea-Doo RXP-X and in third place was Johann Bukes on his #72 Sea-Doo RXT-X.
The Novice Runabout Stock class has put some promising riders in the spotlight including Darius Bukes who is the younger brother of 2013 Women’s Runabout World Champion, Shante Bukes. After three challenging motos, the podium was rounded out by Yamaha rider Welcome Radebe in third, Darius Bukes took second place and Dylan Moolman in first position.
This is the first year that SAJSBA has re-introduced the Pro-Am Sport Lites and Pro-Am Sport Open classes and they were extremely successful with 9 riders on the line. Tyron Sterne managed to take first position in the Pro-Am Sport Lites class, with Wade Peterson in second and Nick Behr in third. Sean Valsecchi took first overall in the Pro-Am Sport Open class, and Peter Britz took second.
The Pro Runabout Stock and Open classes were the most eventful of the day, with Yamaha-sponsored riders Jared Moore and Shante Bukes racing their 2015 Yamaha FZRs for the first time. In Moto 1, Jared Moore got the holeshot on his #8 Yamaha FZR; close on his heels was Shante Bukes on her #72 Yamaha FZR. Moore managed to maintain a decent lead on Bukes and took the win in Moto 1, Bukes in second and Kobus Malan took third on his #5 Sea-Doo RXP-X.
Moto 2 had the same result as Moto 1 with Moore getting the holeshot and taking the checkered flag. Shante Bukes was involved in a collision in Moto 2 with Kobus Malan, but she managed to finish the moto albeit with an injured knee and ankle. She was unable to compete in Moto 3 of the Pro Runabout Stock and Open classes.
In Moto 3, Moore got the holeshot once again and led from start to finish, Kobus Malan took second and Peter Britz rounded up the Top 3. Moore took the overall win for the day in the Pro Runabout Stock class, with Kobus Malan in second and Peter Britz taking the third position.
The Pro Runabout Open Moto 1 saw Elardus Larney take the holeshot on his #7 Sea-Doo RXP-X, with Shante Bukes in a close second on her #72 Yamaha FZR, and Cecil Larney in third on his #13 Sea-Doo RXP-X. Moto 2 saw Elardus Larney take the holeshot and win again, with Cecil Larney in second and Jared Moore in third.
Moore managed to get an impressive start in Moto 3 and lead the race from start to finish, Elardus Larney came in close behind and Cecil Larney rounded out the Top 3 in third position. Final results in the Pro Runabout Open class were Cecil Larney in third, Jared Moore in second, and Elardus Larney in first.
The Pro Ski Lites class was introduced to the SAJSBA Nationals three years ago. Basically, it is a stock class with some minor modifications allowed to improve the handling; these include ride plate, scoop grate, sponsons, aftermarket pole and handlebars. Certain engine compartment modifications which are permitted are an aftermarket head, aftermarket exhaust and aftermarket flame arrestors. This class has proven to be popular with nine riders on the line at the first National of 2015.
Moto 1 of the Pro Ski Lites class got off to an interesting start with former runabout World Champion Nick Thompson taking the holeshot on his #0 Kawasaki SXR. Thompson lead the race until the second last lap when Sean Valsecchi managed to get past and take the checkered flag on his Kawasaki SX-R. Tyron Motzouris came in second on his #2 Yamaha SuperJet, and John De Ponte in third on his #201 Yamaha SuperJet.
Moto 2 of the Pro Ski Lites class went a little differently with Tyron Motzouris taking the holeshot and leading the race all the way to the checkered flag. Nick Thompson was involved in a collision with fellow rider Sean Valsecchi but he managed to hang on to finish Moto 2 in forth place but could not go on to race in Moto 3. Devin Beatie took second position and John De Ponte in a close third.
Once again, Tyron Motzouris took the holeshot in Moto 3 and went on to win; Devin Beatie took second again and John De Ponte took third. Tyron Motzouris took first overall in the Pro Ski Lites class, Devin Beatie took second and John De Ponte took third.
The Pro Ski Open was also full of exciting competition. In Moto 1, Sean Valsecchi took the lead from Nick Thompson on the second last lap to take the win, John De Ponte took second from Nick Thompson on the last lap, and Nick took the checkered flag in third position. John De Ponte managed to win both Moto 2 and 3 to claim first overall in the Pro Ski Open class, Sean Valsecchi got 2nd overall and Nick Thompson got third.
A fairly recent addition to the SAJSBA Nationals is the Booster Cup. The Booster Cup is a series in South Africa which has been running for 3 years. A very generous sponsor, LPS, purchased six brand new Kawasaki STX-15F’s to be offered as a “hire and ride” concept. This series is for riders who are interested in racing but would like to try their hand at it before committing to purchasing a watercraft of their own.
It has been very successful with SAJSBA, offering five classes for the Booster Cup which include Juniors, Novice, Veterans, Ladies and the ever popular Pro class. The Pro Class allows experienced riders to level the playing field by racing watercraft which have identical top speeds and handling capabilities. Thus the best riders shine in this class. The Booster Cup is offered at all inland SAJSBA Nationals, and prizes are given at the end of each season.
The next SAJSBA National will be held on 28th February, 2015 in Vrede, Freestate. This event will be a combined effort between SAJSBA and the Jet Fighters series. The Jet Fighters series is also an extra series on offer by SAJSBA and is run and organized by one of our most experience riders, Sean Valsecchi. The concept of the Jet Fighters series is short quick moto’s of all ski and sport classes, no runabouts.
The SAJSBA National Round 1 was a fantastically well-organized event filled with thrilling racing, entertaining company and foresight of a promising season.
For full-sized versions of all of the original images from Channe Moore, visit CM Photography & Design HERE.