Jet skis and Texas Hospitality go hand in hand. TXH2O Racing’s first event of 2018 April 21-22 proved this race series exists for the whole family to get together with friends, battle on the buoy course, and maybe even win a little cash!
With unseasonably cold, rainy weather kicked off at Gene’s Polaris in Baytown, Texas. Fortunately the wind and the rain did not dampen attendee’s spirits and the pits were alive with the sound of good-natured banter and angry engines. Even Chris Hagest and the Pro Watercraft Racing crew drove in from Arizona to join local Texas racers on the buoy course, and offer riders stellar products for those wanting to take their handling to the next level.
Above: Chris Hagest drove all the way from Lake Havasu City, Arizona to join the Texas racers on his “nuclear fast” Kawasaki JS550.
Above left: Junior racers are the future of our sport! Seasoned junior rider Autum Humason was no stranger to the buoy course on her Kawasaki SXR in the ski class, and Yamaha WaveBlaster in Junior Sport class. Above right: Ski GP Open was one of the most exciting classes to watch all weekend with the blazing fast Kawasaki SXR 1500s and built aftermarket hulls. Ty Kotara piloted his ProForce to a 3rd overall finish for the weekend.
New management and sanctioning under Pro Watercross brought about fresh changes to TXH2O Racing that were well received by racers and spectators alike. Right out of the gate at the first rider meeting of the year, the Joker Buoy was introduced as a new strategy to get around the competition. Similar to the “make-up” buoy far off the main race course that a racer has to catch the following lap after a missed buoy – the Joker Buoy has to be used once by each racer during any part of the race.
So for example, if both the inside and outside lanes of the split buoys had multiple riders churning up the water, a racer could avoid that traffic by taking the Joker Buoy early in the race. That would save energy to get around the competition later in the race when the other riders would have to take their longer Joker Buoy lap. That is just one of many scenarios where the Joker Buoy added exciting strategy to the race.
Above left: Seasoned ski riders like Quentin Nguyen on his Kawasaki SXR, experienced a whole new set of challenges racing for the first time. One of the great dynamics about riding jet skis is the fact that you can enjoy rec riding, then come out and race to learn a whole new set of skills. Above right: Even endurance runabout riders like Joey Burkhalter expressed admiration at the long length of races. With sanctioning under Pro Watercross – race length has gone from 5-6 laps in previous years to 8 minutes plus two laps. Far better training for those hoping to compete in the Finals later in the year.
Each day was run on a two moto format, each race being eight minutes long plus two laps for adult classes, and six minutes plus two laps for juniors. Classes ranged from stock stand up ski, sport, and runabout to heavily modified GP classes with built engines and radical aftermarket hulls. Vintage ski ended up being one of the most popular races to ride in as well as watch. There’s something about 30 year old skis with screaming little two stroke engines slowly fighting for rank through the buoy course.
Saturday held a special treat for everyone after both motos ended – the head-to-head slalom! In this event two racers were timed through a tight, identical, side-by-side buoy course. Winner for ski, sport, and runabout received a cash purse, and more importantly – bragging rights. By the end of the day racers worked up quite an appetite after two motos and the slalom, good thing TXH2O provided a hearty Texas meal from championship winning Monster Meat BBQ!
Above left: Victory Lake located behind Gene’s Polaris in Baytown, Texas has supported jet ski racing for decades. The clean shores and cement starting line made it an obvious choice for TXH2O Racing’s first event of the year. Above right: Unseasonably cold weather for Texas in April descended on the race site most of the weekend. Clouds, threat of rain, and wind didn’t help temperatures rise until halfway through Sunday. Riders like Clayton Lobue adorned wetsuits and tour coats to comfortably battle the cold and fellow racers on track.
Sunday morning welcomed the racers with brief sunshine and sore muscles, but spirits remained high as everyone prepped for two more long motos. Spectators and family members cheered on their racers as riders jockeyed for place around the course. By the end of Sunday afternoon and motos concluded, warmer temperatures graced the awards ceremony where first through third place riders basked in the glory of podium!
There was a feeling of contentedness after the first event of the year came to a close. Racers left with tired and sore bodies, but energized minds from the camaraderie of competition and immersion in everything watercraft for a weekend. If you are interested in joining TXH2O Racing for a future event, please visit www.txh2oracing.com for more information.