Kevin Shaw: 39,000 Feet, Somewhere Above Houston, Texas


That’s right, I’m in an airplane, flying to Ontario, California before hitching a ride in the unofficial Watercraft Journal motorhome to the quakysense IJSBA World Finals in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I have about another hour before switching planes in Phoenix, Arizona, and slinking into a Sbarro or finding something equally terrible to eat in the terminal.

1479252_619763161394032_608590450_nI’m also wedged up against the plexiglass window, the tray jammed into my knees because the passenger in front of me has opted to recline their high-backed chair back to its fullest extent, directly into my lap. Tight quarters, indeed. It’s enough to make a claustrophobic agoraphobe lose their mind. To stave off the tedium, I’ve been perusing the oddities squirreled away on my MacBook’s “Random Junk” folder, settling on a screen capture from an old copy of Splash Magazine – specifically Clark Emery’s pre-1990 IJSBA World Finals editorial (see attached image).

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a history geek, and am wont to scour old copies of Splash, Jet Sports, and appropriately Personal Watercraft Illustrated (for which, I was the Editor during its last 3 years) when occasion permits, and Emery’s words are enough inspiration for me today to pen this lampooning homage. Sure, I’m getting a few funny looks for pecking away at my laptop with zero elbow room, looking like a caged tyrannosaur, but, hey, I’m on a mission: It’s one day before I set foot in Havasu and I’ve yet to hammer out this month’s “Watermarks.”

Since I’m still not convinced that a booth is necessary to promote an online daily magazine (we don’t have subscriptions, so what would we do, have a bunch of iPhones on display like the Apple Store?), I’ve admittedly been a little lax in preparing for this weekend’s Lake Havasu World Finals, so I thought I’d follow Emery’s example and do an awards thing. For lack of being able to use Clark’s impromptu award categories, I’ll just parallel his sharing of personal thoughts and reflections – that too, are just my personal opinions, which, by the way, mean very little.

5. Best Surprise of The 2015 Season: The inaugural Broward Motorsports Pro Watercross World Championships. AJ and Linda Handler (with a great deal of help from their son Nicholas and 2015 crew) put on what many believed to be a home run of an event. Attendees and racers alike praised the venue, making a “must go” event for 2016. The big cash payout was of course, a big plus.

4. Most Impressive Racer: Bibi Carmouche. Seriously, this girl walked away with what, four Pro Class national championships? Not only that, but she also entered into the Pro Am Open Ski fray with some of the sharpest standup racers in North America. Bibi has got to be the most talented female standup rider on the water today. She’s also a dirt bike rider, snow skiing instructor and EMT.


3. Most Powerful Person in The Sport: Jerry Gaddis. The owner of, Gaddis has been called “jet ski Jesus” by more that a lot of people. Although he’s been a little out of the limelight on the largest PWC forum lately, we’re convinced that if he suggested pink Sparks were faster, Sea-Doo would have to bring the color back due to the demand.

2. Worst Kept Secret: Sea-Doo’s new 300-horsepower engine. After a couple of days’ worth of investigating, we published a tell-all on a new stroked ACE motor to replace the old Rotax plant (it was our most popular story for 2015). Back in March, we guessed Sea-Doo would go with 315HP rating to best Kawasaki, but online blog “Steven in Sales” called it at 300. Rats. But, Yamaha’s 3-cylinder TR-1 motor caught us pleasantly by surprise.

1. Best Representative of The Sport: Mark Gomez. A Frankenstein of Ross Champion’s surf skill, Pierre Maixent’s aerial ability, Jason Stoyer’s freestyle, and Chris MacClugage’s leg-dragging closed course mastery, all in a tiny package. This year’s IFWA World Champion spent this year globetrotting from Australia to France and seemingly everywhere in-between. The RRP team rider not only can execute insane aerials, but slash waves better than most and whether riding a $30,000 Rickter or a clapped out JS550 can out ride most racers on the closed course. He’s affable, courteous, and genuine, and gives of his time to every and anyone who greets him.

Go Get Wet,

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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