Greetings from Half Moon Bay, California. It is near the end of January and we are kick starting off the 2014 PWC Racing season. Each year, the growth of duties in IJSBA has pushed back the recovery from World Finals. We had some additional obstacles this past couple of months, but, we are now on track to bring you an exciting new year that will offer the very best in personal watercraft competitions. Not that it will be easy to beat the 2013 World Finals, it had some definite highlights for the sport. There is a whole lot to talk about, as usual, so let’s not waste valuable reading time with introductory paragraphs. Please share the following news and information with your colleagues in the PWC Racing Family.

1. Happy Lunar New Year

horse

Our friends at Jettribe have sent us a greeting that reminds us that January 31st is the Lunar New Year.  Known as Tet in Jettribe’s Vietnam office, and more commonly celebrated as Chinese New Year near the IJSBA headquarters, the lunar calendar starts the new year on the 31st of January.  Frequently, the start of the year update is issued while making mention to the Winter Solstice as this turns from the shortest day of the year towards our longest day- which means more hours that we can ride and race personal watercraft. The Nations of Southeast Asia have been entering the sport in high droves.  For this reason, we will are likely to be acknowledging more events in these areas( 2014 Asia Beach Games) and joining in the celebrations of tour competitor family as the International part of IJSBA further grows. Whether the New Year begins on January 1, or January 31, we have an entire new year of series racing from Europe, USA, Thailand, Australia, South America, and other places throughout the globe.  With new faces, new products, and new ideas we all look forward to what 2014 will bring.

2. IJSBA Is Open Full Time For Business

The IJSBA phone has started ringing more frequently- another sign of the season starting- and we have been filling out more paperwork. This year, a lot of the staff caught a pretty nasty flu bug, at the 2013 Hot Products World Finals, that set a lot of us back quite a bit.  The recovery from World Finals gets longer and longer each year as the event grows.  The brutal windstorms exacerbated this situation and took some people out of solid commission before the event even ended,  Blake Corning was one of those victims.  I care deeply about all of the IJSBA staff, and their wellbeing, and have been trying to talk Blake into quitting smoking (some of you may remember my 2013 venting about him burning a hole in the seat of my Jeep).  During a pre-event phone call, Blake got to laughing about something and sounded like the cartoon character, Mutley, which made me get on his case even more about his nasty habit.  As it turned out, Blake had picked up walking pneumonia and needed as hospital visit during the later portion of the competition and came back and finished the event before he had healed completely.

The point of telling you this is to remind all of you that people are working hard on your behalf and the stresses of the sport hit the staff.  We want you to know that we are on your side and, after periods of recuperation we are ready to give you 110% for another year.  So, after a couple of furlough periods (which also helps the checking account while we are still licking our wounds from the World Finals expenses), we are here 9-5 Tuedsdays, Wedsnesdays, and Thursdays. We are usually open Monday even though we are don’t advertise it. There aren’t too many Saturdays or Sundays where we don’t return emails. Already, we have been processing permits, schedules, memberships, and other logistic supports for the 2014 season.

3.      REMINDER THAT BACK PROTECTION IS NOW MANDATORY IN ALL SKI CLASSES

SKI division competitors, please take note that additional back protection is mandatory for all IJSBA Sanctioned Racing throughout the world as of January 1, 2014. So, if you didn’t have a back protection device on your Christmas list, you need to go out and get one before you get to the line.  Please see the IJSBA Competition Rule Book to ensure your new back protection device is compliant with the requirements for body coverage.  See IJSBA Rule 17.3.4.

4. 2014 Rule Book Change Period Has Closed New Rule Drafts To Be Posted February 5.

So, lets start this section off by saying thank you to those of you who voted and commented on the suggestions.  Also, a big thank you goes out to those of you who sent in suggestions during the period where we accepted them.  With that said, it was kind of a bummer to go through the same experience, again, of having to go through some of the hassles of debating rule suggestions after the voting period had ended and the results were posted.  The time for these suggestions, and for debates about the rules, is during the period when it is open, not afterwards.  We want to provide the new rules to you quickly, and the delays of having some of the post voting discussions prevents us from making that delivery. Once again, we ask that those of you who have a particular agenda for change be prepared in November when this process will begin, again. While we are shaking our finger at some of you, we also want cast a frown on some of you who didn’t return your votes.  We received a sufficient quantity of votes where the outstanding ballots would not have changed the results of any items, but it is nice to have the opinion of everyone on the voting panel.

This year, we received a pretty small list of suggestions.  We saw this as a good thing as it provides for a more stable and predictable environment for the near future of competition. Radical rule changes from year-to-year is not ideal for retaining competitors. Equipment will continue to change and evolve over the course of time and trying to reengineer the equipment that exists now may cause the rule book to become a complicated set of “if-then” modifications which have people making too many changes between seasons. The 2014 rule changes made good progress on good sense upgrades to prevent engine destruction without opening the floodgates of requiring a set of new parts to stay competitive to the first buoy.  We set a cap on vintage racing displacement but kept handling assistance. This was a good move because it keeps vintage ski costs down without sacrificing the riding enjoyment of the watercraft.  Also, we opened up more opportunities for four stroke engines in Ski GP classes without increasing the horsepower yield. Nice work to everyone involved.

Also, we would like to bring to your attention that a transcription error was made in the original posting of the rule change results.  Item 15, increasing the normally aspirated four stroke displacement in Ski GP to 1640 CC, passed.  When put in a spreadsheet form, item 15 had skipped a line to where the spreadsheet numbering no longer matched the item number. I copied the line numbers into the original posting.  I apologize for any inconveniences caused by the information being incorrect for a couple of days.

5. IJSBA Apologizes To Vintage Ski and Vintage X2 Competitors For Mistakes During The 2013 World Finals Awards Ceremony

While I am apologizing for some mistakes, I want to make sure the community knows that we regret the errors that occurred in the Vintage Ski and Vintage X2 classes at the 2013 Hot Products World Finals awards ceremony. Up to now, the Vintage Classes have been run as a low cost class which was made possible by providing number plates only for the top ten participants. Because there were no trophies in front of the number plates, and administrative error resulted where some of the number plates were given out as surplus plates to persons who claimed one. When Vintage awards were announced some number plates were missing and could not be provided to the participants.

IJSBA apologizes deeply for this mistake.  We have ordered replacement plates for the participants who did not receive their numbered award. Additionally, we will be offering a cash credit towards these classes, to the top ten finishers who did not get their plates, for the 2014 World Finals. Finally, we will engage in a publicity campaign for these riders so they get the exposure that they were entitled to at the awards ceremony. If anyone in these classes has not received their replacement number plate by now, please contact us because our records show this has now been resolved.

Vintage Ski and Vintage X2 will return as World Finals Classes for the 2014 World Finals. In 2014, the classes will be priced at the Novice/Junior level and will come with the corresponding trophy package.  We will prevent this mistake from happening again.  Again, we are very sorry to those who had their World Finals experience impacted because of our error.

6. IJSBA Has Released Two New Runabout Classes For 2014

As you have probably already read, IJSBA has created two new Runabout Classes for 2014: Rec Lites and 1000cc Superstock.

Rec Lites shall be a class that follows Stock Class rules. Normally aspirated, four stroke powered, PWC up to 1000cc shall be allowed. Normally aspirated, two stroke powered, PWC up to 735cc (possibly 745cc) will be allowed.  This class is planned to be offered at the 2014 World Finals in both Amateur and Pro Am formats.

1000cc Superstock shall be a Superstock Class (see the Superstock Addendum under the Open Class section of the IJSBA Rule Book. Essentially this means OEM hulls and OEM Cylinders).  Normally aspirated, two stroke powered PWC up to 800cc shall be allowed. Four Stroke powered PWC up to 1000cc shall be allowed.  Four stroke powered PWC may add a supercharger or turbocharger. This class is planned to be offered at the 2014 World Finals in both Amateur and Pro Am formats. This class will replace the 800 Superstock classes.  Amateur Runabout 800 Limited will remain as a World Finals class in 2014.

The 800 Superstock classes have been barely hanging on the last couple of years and now we have a new (and highly affordable product) that is compatible with the traditional 800 class watercraft. We hope that those enthusiasts that want to modify their watercraft without spending the funds required for the large displacement four stroke watercraft will enjoy the 1000cc Superstock Class and that the existing 800 class competitors enjoy a more full competition field. We also look forward to the future of the Rec Lites classes where competitors will be able to run within the Stock Class parameters at the lowest price since the Runabout Stock classes have been offered.

7. IJSBA Thanks Hot Products For Their Generous Contributions In 2012 and 2013

As the 2013 has ended and we look forward to 2014, we want to make sure that we acknowledge the special support and extreme generosity of Hot Products. IJSBA world Finals has always been lucky to have great title sponsors but the additional support we received from Hot Products in the form of rallying vendors, and increasing the awareness of the importance of World Finals to recreational performance markets throughout the world, has brought a lot of new networking benefits to the event.

You have heard it announced before, and will hear it announced again: Hot Products is the world’s largest distributor of Personal Watercraft performance parts. Their participation in sanctioned events is not to claim more market share- they already have it.  Hot Products supports racing in order to give back to the sport and they are very generous in doing so. When you see Mr. Saito at the races, be sure to express your appreciation for what they do to keep racing going.  More importantly, help those who help you; when you are purchasing performance watercraft parts please make sure you are buying them from an authorized Hot Products dealer.

8. Brief Recap Of The 2013 Hot Products World Finals

By now, the dust has settled on the 2013 Hot Products World Finals. Chris MacClugage’s epic triple victory was one of the most talked about feats in the sport’s history. James Bushell and Kevin Reiterer reminded all of us that they plan to go on winning races no matter what challenges are brought to the table.  Probably not enough has been said about South Africa’s Jared Moore and his very awesome performance winning his first World Championship.  Mike Klippenstein showed everyone that age is not a barrier to being one of the most dominant Ski riders on the race course.  The racing was some of the best ever.  Freestyle didn’t disappoint, either, Anthony Burgess gave a performance that had the crowds cheering wildly.

There are many ways to measure whether or not the event was a success and any method you use points in the right direction for the 2013 Hot Products World Finals.  “Numbers” is usually the word that our sponsors and partners are usually concerned about.  To this end the event boasted a stable pilot count while showing a solid increase in the average number of classes entered by a racer. More than 38 Nations entered World Finals. The event enjoyed significant increases in spectator turnout, vehicles parked, food and beer sales, and official event merchandise. This points to an still increasing level of marketability for World Finals.

The IJSBA’s live feed broadcast of the 2013 Hot Products World Finals was seen by more than 100,000 new and unique viewers. Last year, more than 70,000 unique viewers watched the 2012 live feed and we didn’t reset the counter so we do not know how many of them watched again (we will assume all of them did, of course). The fact that we had sharp increases in both physical and internet spectator counts is a true testament to the quality of the event and the professionalism of our athletes.

The most important success we have is when there are no serious accidents. There were no serious injuries that occurred on the track at the 2013 World Finals. Those racers that received more than simple evaluations were from incidents where the pilot was ejected from the watercraft without collision with another PWC.  We attribute this to both a modernization of the track and increased focus from the competitors on safe riding. Good work everyone. For the record, the bulk of the course redesign was the idea of Blake Corning (who still needs to give up smoking) and it was well conceived and well executed- good job Blake.

IJSBA would also like to put a special spotlight on the Technical Inspection team at World Finals. Robert Sands, Rich Boelle, an Peter DeSmet are a fantastic group who have been the backbone of tech for the last couple of years.  This year, IJSBA brought in a new Tech Director, Mike Rodgers. Mike fit in well at the event and the synergy of his addition to the group made for one of the best tech experiences at World Finals ever.

Saturday Night, October 12, Blowsion hosted the return of Freestyle Competitions under Lake Havasu City’s London Bridge. To use UK vernacular: It was a smashing success. The shoreline at the London Bridge Resort was lined with spectators and the show was well received.  Additionally, Franky Zapata gave a great Flyboard demonstration and the Sea-Doo Bounty closed out the show.  Literally thousands of people sang happy birthday to Clayton Jacobsen, the inventor of the Jet-Ski on the occasion of his 80th!!  If you missed this part of World Finals, you really did miss out on something special. Coverage of this part of the event will be available on the DVD which should be available for sale shortly. Extra thanks to Blowsion, DASA, and Bun Freestyle for their support in making the Bridge Show happened.

The 2013 Nation’s Cup kept all of us in suspense throughout the entire event.  For those USA fans who like the idea that we have kept the cup every year except once, you might want to send Chris MacClugage a thank you card. 33 Nations earned points towards the 2013 Nations Cup. The results were as followed (300 points are the maximum that can be earned).

  1.  USA                300 Points  (8 wins)
  2. Thailand         300 Points (7 wins)
  3. Norway*          300 Points (6 wins)
  4. Kuwait             300 Points (5 wins)
  5. Canada           286 Points
  6. South Africa    265 Points
  7. Hungary          264 Points
  8. France             262 Points
  9. Italy                  255 Points
  10. New Zealand 248 Points

*Biorn Tangeland, the IJSBA IT and International Director, is a native Norwegian and about did a dance when Norway entered the range of possibility to win the cup.

However, not everything at World Finals deserved praise.  We had a couple of things go down at the event that weren’t so good and we want to point them out here in the hopes of getting all of you to help reduce the chance of repeating behavior that is not good for the health and welfare of the event. As the Managing Director, it is my responsibility to ensure the integrity and safety of the event. This means protecting you from dangerous behavior at the event, protecting the grounds from damage and vandalism, ensuring the staff is not put in a needlessly hazardous position, protecting the ability for the sport to get an affordable insurance policy, and ensuring that we have the quality of event that will make it through the permitting review process. Sometimes, adhering to these duties causes me to have a Darth Vader like personality. However, there are times when some of you deserve the Captain Needa treatment.  Here are some of those instances:

-Trying to rope off additional pit spaces for people who have not yet checked in is seriously uncool. You shouldn’t do it at all but wherever there may be occasional exceptions some of you went way over the line this time. This is not good sportsmanship nor is it fair to some of your fellow competitors who may not have the advantage to get there as early.  “First come, first served” is fair game for getting a space is not.  “First come then reserve” is not.  We hope that this will not happen again

-Earlier this year, we announced there were going to be some restrictions on under aged riding in the pits along with some requirements for helmets. These things were announced so we could start setting the stage for some mandatory safeguards that will be strictly enforced in the future.  Most people followed along with the rules but some of you did not.  Worse than ignoring the helmet rule were those who failed to observe safe speeds in the pits and exhibited some reckless behavior on your vehicle (yes pit bike guy who got fined, you are one of the examples). We would like to remind you that all of the venue, both land and lake, is borrowed property. An incident in the pits can affect our ability to secure a race location just as much as an incident on the water. We do not like to heavily police the pits and we know the environment would be much happier if you guys could remind each other to keep it safe while on the race site.

-The idiot of the year award goes to [we will leave him/her unnamed], who wrapped his/her lanyard around his/her handlebars. This caused an out of control Ski situation that could have been a total disaster had it not been for the well prepared staff and perimeter patrol.  Words cannot explain how stupid and thoughtless this was. This type of misconduct will not be tolerated and this matter, as well as any future repeats of this irresponsible sportsmanship, will be dealt with in a way that we hope will send a strong reminder to not repeat it. However, good sense should be enough to prevent this from happening.

-Normally, the Junior Classes are the darlings of the event.  Junior conduct is never anything less than the prime example of excellent behavior and sportsmanship… that is, until this year. A group of Juniors, undoubtedly inspired by other crossover sport athletes, decided to investigate if the skills of Ski Racing translated into downhill sled racing.  Since there are not a lot of downhill sleds available in Lake Havasu City, the curious Juniors improvised by raiding the stacks of cardboard boxes that previously held the trophies and number plates.This resulted in a horrific mess behind the Convention Center building and also resulted in the Managing Director having to bribe a few groundskeepers to clean it up (they weren’t going to take checks so it came out of my own pocket to make matters worse).  We expect that this is an isolated incident and we will never ever have to address the Juniors as a group in this way again.

One the redeeming parts of being Managing Director is that, while I am running around trying to put out fires, I get to see more of the event in a single day than most people. This year, I got to snap some pretty cool shots with my camera phone, and I hope you will enjoy these candid shots from unusual points of view.

IMAG0421

IMAG0427

IMAG0445

IMAG0449

IMAG0454

IMAG0460

IMAG0461

IMAG0462

IMAG0464

IMAG0465

IMAG0471

9. A New Title Sponsor Has Been Signed For 2014

We have received numerous compliments about the quality of the 2013 Hot Products World Finals and we thank you for them. We hope to further raise the bar in future years. We are always looking to improve and welcome your suggestions on how we can do so. This year, we will be bringing you our very best with the aid of a new title sponsor. We had three different offers for titling the 2014 World Finals and, ultimately, we think we went with what was the best fit for the sport and the future of the event. The 2014 title sponsor will be announced Monday, February 3.

10. Jet Ski Sport Returns To 2014 Asia Beach Games

The 2014 Asia Beach Games in Phuket, Thailand will again feature IJSBA Personal Watercraft Racing as one of the featured sports. Just as they did in Bali 2008, and Oman in 2010, racers will compete for Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals. Categories will be Runabout Open, Runabout 1000 Superstock, Sport GP, Ski Open, Runabout Stock, and Runabout Endurance. IJSBA has already had our first meeting with the Olympic Council of Asia and have secured an excellent venue at Patong Beach, just inside the main tourist district, for maximum exposure. The 2014 Asia Beach Games, dubbed the event to “Celebrate Charming Sunshine,” will take place November 14-23 in Phuket. IJSBA will bring you more information and news as we get closer.

11. IJSBA Promoters Meeting Yielded Action Items

IJSBA held a regional promoters meeting at the 2013 World Finals. Among the items that will be implemented are:

  1.  Working to establish a Sportsman level license which would be for classes that are best suited for the recreational racer. Sportsman classes would have a National Division system separated by four quarters of the United States and would be handled by the regional promoters.  Some of the needs of a Sportsman division were met with the rule changes for 2014. However, these changes did not cover some classes like Masters Ski  and Classic Runabout.. We will continue to work on ways to find a balance for ensuring that recreational competitors have access to classes with like skilled competitors.
  2. IJSBA intends to abandon a numbering system for the Regional Racing program and switch to a program where the regions are identified geographically (i.e. Northwest, South, Central US, etc.)
  3. IJSBA will be enforcing territorial boundaries for promoters.
  4. IJSBA will be updating promoter agreements.
  5. Any new classes must be approved by IJSBA prior to being offered to competitors. No classes will be sanctioned or insured that cannot comply with the IJSBA Rule Book and the IJSBA policies for technical rulings and appeals

IJSBA will bring you regular updates as action is taken  on the five items mentioned above.

Well that is it for this first update of 2014. IJSBA looks forward to serving you in this next year.  If you have any questions, or comments, about this update or the any other matter relating to the sport, please email info@www.ijsba.com or call +1-714-751-8695 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (and yes, Mondays too) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM PST.