The Watercraft Journal: How did you first got into jet skiing and then into racing?
Callaway Turner: I always enjoyed being on the water growing up and I first had the opportunity to ride a standup jet ski on my 18th birthday thanks to John McAlpine of MacsBoost. I was hooked on riding standups from that point as I bought a Kawasaki 650SX that summer for my first ski. I enjoy the freedom of being on the water and being able to have fun both on your own and with others when riding jet skis. My first race was in 2009 on Lake Norman thanks to the help of Brian Baldwin of Champion Performance. Later, my real racing career started in 2012 when I met Bill Haig and the Hurricane Racing team at Jordan Lake while I was in graduate school at NC State University. I have been riding/racing with Hurricane Racing ever since.
WCJ: You had a pretty whirlwind year of racing. How did 2014 go for you?
CT: The 2014 racing season was a blast. After finishing second nationally in Novice Ski Stock in 2013, I moved up to Amateur Ski Lites in 2014. The season started down in Pensacola, Florida, with the largest surf conditions I’d ever ridden in. At that point, I had only ridden in the ocean once or twice and just for fun, not for racing. I was intimidated at first, especially because I was borrowing Bill Haig’s stock SX-R for that race. However, after some reassuring that the conditions would play to my advantage as long as I rode smart, I had a blast and swept all three motos for a first place finish.
I kept that momentum going through the season, winning every moto in Panama City, Colonial Beach, and Lake Hartwell. The one race of the National Tour I wasn’t able to make in 2014 was the one in Sparks, NV. At the Nationals in Charleston, WV, I finished first in the first moto, but had some less than optimal starts in the second two motos and had to fight through the pack which made for some exciting racing. I managed to fight back just enough to take the first overall and win both the National title as well as the tour championship for Amateur Ski Lites which was the perfect end to an exciting season.
WCJ: Tell us about your experience racing at your first IJSBA World Finals. How did it go?
CT: This was  was my first year racing at the IJSBA World Finals. I only raced one class, Amateur Ski Lites, and was on the fence about adding a second class, Pro-Am Ski Lites. Looking back, I wish I would’ve added the second class. In the Amateur Ski Lites class, I qualified for the main event, which was exciting, but had a rough race in the first moto, finishing near the back of the pack. I redeemed myself somewhat in the second moto, finishing within the Top 10, but still wasn’t racing as well as I know I could. Personally, I was disappointed with my performance, knowing I could’ve done better. But that just means I’ll just have to prove it at the World Finals in 2015.
WCJ: Tell us more about your relationship with your racing team. How are they helping you out?
CT: The Hurricane Racing Team has been pivotal in everything I’ve accomplished so far in my racing career. Without them, I’d probably still just be riding recreationally. Bill Haig’s expertise and experience has taught me a lot and has helped make racing a possibility. Having the backing of the Hurricane Racing Team helps in all aspects – prrparing the ski, transportation to/from the race sites, and especially practicing for the races. Having the group we have to practice with (great riders such as Bill Haig, Jimmy Wilson, Brian Kemp, Ralph McGregor, Zack Spring, and Nick Spring) is a great help for both building the endurance needed for racing and having the head-to-head racing experience necessary to perform well in the races.
As far as skis goes, I have one SX-R currently that will probably remain stock for the 2015 season. There are some minor tweaks I would like to make and would also like to do some dyno tuning to make sure I am getting everything I can out of it. While every little bit counts for attempting to gain a competitive advantage, I’ve learned that practice and training are just as important if not more important for doing well in the races.
WCJ: What are your plans for 2015? What races do you plan on attending? What class(es) are you entering?
CT: For 2015, I definitely plan on all the East Coast races of the Pro Watercross National Tour, but I’m unsure about whether I can make it to the races out in Nevada and Utah (as far as both getting equipment across the country and having the work schedule work out to allow me to travel to those races).
I’m currently thinking about moving up to the Pro-Am Ski Stock class on the National Tour. Also, if I can find a ski to practice and race, I’d like to be able to race the Amateur Ski GP class. Adding a second class would allow me to race more during the weekends and riding a GP Ski would be good practice and help prepare me for hopefully eventually moving up to the Pro-Am Ski GP class.
WCJ: What long-term goals do you have for your jet ski racing career?
CT: In the short term, I’ll be racing in the Pro-Am Ski Stock class and hopefully be able to be competitive this coming year. In the next five years, the ideal situation would be to have the opportunity to race professionally with full sponsorship while working as an engineer for one of the manufacturers as I completed my masters degree in mechanical engineering two years ago.
WCJ: Who would you like to thank for helping you get this far?
CT: First, I have to thank Hurricane Racing, especially Bill Haig for making my racing career a reality. The rest of the Hurricane Racing team is also a great group of people to have to practice with and provide great support at the races. I also have had great support from my girlfriend, Carrie Oliver, and sister, Niki Turner, who have raced in the Womens class as they finished 5th and 3rd Nationally on the tour in the Women’s class in 2014. I’d also like to thank Amsoil for their high performance synthetic lubricants.