Many might not recognize the name James Xuereb, but if you were in attendance at the 2014 IJSBA World Finals, you will have noticed the Australian Amateur Veteran Ski racer not only sweep the motos, earning him the World Title at Lake Havasu, but do so with an impressive 30 second lead in both motos.
The Watercraft Journal: When did you first start jet skiing and how did you get into racing?
James Xuereb: Firstly, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer the Seven Deadly Questions. As a kid, I always wanted to race dirt bikes, my parents were totally against the idea. It was in 1994, my last year of school and a friend, Ben Pearce and his brothers of four all raced jet skis. I tagged along to a local race to help and watch and fell in love with the sport. It wasn’t until 1997 that I purchased a square-nosed SuperJet and started racing in 1998.
WCJ: As I mentioned you had a massive lead on second place, so much so that some rough chop in the second moto saw you take a brief swim, which still wasn’t enough for second place to catch up. What was going through your mind during these races?
JX: [Laughs] The morning of the races was qualifying. I had never been so nervous. Looking at 40 riders, most that looked like gym junkies, their skis loud and fast. [Laughs] This made me feel so intimidated – I felt like spewing. In the qualifying first start, I nearly hole shot, but got red flagged because someone jump started.
Immediately on my way back to the start line I got this 100% confidence boost. Waiting on the line, I said to Brian, my holder ‘We can do this mate, my ski is on the money.’ Overall, I qualified fourth but made heaps of mistakes, so coming into the main events I knew I could possibly make it work. I mainly focused on a good start, smooth riding and breathing.
WCJ: What support did you have and how did you prepare for your first international race?
JX: I made my decision to go well over 12 months prior to the event. I teamed up with Oz champ of 2014 and great friend Joel Barry and his family who pretty much organized the whole trip and jet ski transport. Preparation was a long-term thought. I built a replica ski I rode and punished for 18 months, meanwhile built my race ski which I did not ride much after development stopped three months prior to [Finals]. For the last three months, I just focused on fitness, which involved riding the spare ski about three days a week and core and cardio fitness at the gym.
WCJ: What racing have you been up to since the World Finals?
JX: After [Finals] it was kind of hard to get motivated and focused, due to the preparations of attending of attending the World Finals. Here in Oz, we had the Yamaha Cup on the AJSBA tour, which was a great idea. I chose to have a break from the Open class and built myself a budget Lites boat for the Cup. Ryan O’Keefe was focused and determined every round winning first, I came second.
WCJ: I think it would be fair to state that racing in Australia is on a smaller scale (in number of events, racers and spectators). How would you compare the racing here in Australia to the States and what would you like to see for Australia’s future in racing?
JX: Yes, it would be great to see more competitors at our Australian events especially with the hard work committee members put in to hosting these events. Obviously, the World Finals is one of the biggest jet ski events held annually, but I think Australia is on par with the way events are run and organized. I think focusing on our Juniors and affordable fees may attract more competitors at our State club rounds. Having a ‘one off’ weekend Australian Titles is a fantastic idea, which may also attract international riders.
WCJ: What are your plans for the future? Will we see you back at Havasu?
JX: At the present moment I am enjoying having a break from racing (kicking back sinking loads on green can, VB no1), catching up on jobs around the house. This year I will not be attending the World Finals, however I do have plans to go back 2016.
WCJ: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
JX: It sure is a big effort with months of prep to attend the World Finals and could not have pulled it off without the help from several people. Big thanks to all that have been apart of the adventure you have all contributed in making a dream come true.
Firstly, my girl Avalon for her patience and motivation. The Barry family for organizing the whole thing. My engine builder, Brad Dawson for one ‘cranky engine’. Andy Tisdall for his involvement in development. Michael from Anglomoil for his support. Garry Watson from WORX Racing, James Berger for some key secrets, and Michael Stevens for persisting with getting us out on the water, rain, hail or shine for training. Brian Colreavy for making a big trip to help me out in any way he could, from making breakfast in the morning to spannering on the ski. Legend!