world's best jet pilots + competition results

By Alex Petrovic - 2011 USA AM Freestyle Champion

 

This article may not be reproduced, copy/pasted etc. without permission from jetGP.com.

This article is intended to help new freestylers and those interested in eventually becoming competitive freestylers get all the information in one spot.

It also addresses an important question -- "how do I get myself on jetGP.com" ?

If you are a racer or freerider and would like to help by writing a similar article about racing/freeride, please contact jetGP.com.

CLASSES

In general, there are two distinct classes -- AM and PRO. The only difference between the two is the maximum size of the motor allowed. For AM it's 899cc (commonly referred to as 900) and for PRO it's 1199cc (commonly 1200). All other modifications are identical between classes.  So, in theory, if you get a 900 (or less) you can compete either as AM or PRO. There is no other difference between classes.

Since we are to assume you are a new competitor, then we will base this article on the idea that you want to compete in AM class.

Some countries, if there are not enough participants, combine the two classes into PRO-AM, in which everyone competes together, regardless of the size of a motor.

Other countries, on the other hand, add more classes (beginner, junior, novice, expert, etc.) which can have their own limitations (age, type of hull, etc.).  If you are not from US, contact your nation's jetski federation and they should give you exact class info. The goal of jetGP.com is to cover all classes from every country.

CHAMPIONSHIPS/TOURS

Championships (also called "tours" because they go from city to city) consist of several stops (rounds) around the country.  Check out the competition calendar on jetGP.com for your country's Nationals.  Freestylers compete at each event and get points based on their weekend's results.  Freestyler with most points at the end of the season is the Champion.

Points structure differs from country to country (yes, that's silly) and sometimes the last round may carry double the points in order to promote closer competition (ie. points leader can't skip it).  In general, first place gets 25 points, second 20 points, etc.

You don't have to commit to the whole championship -- you are allowed to compete at just one round.  So, for your first competition you may decide to wait until the round that is closest to your home.

JETSKI

Which hull/motor/pump/color etc. you choose is up to you and we will not get into that discussion now.  In general, for your first competition simply bring what you have, there is no need to spend money on a machine before you know that competing is what you want to do.  Bring what you have, have fun, and later if you feel your machine was not good enough, then figure out what you need to upgrade.  AM class generally has a wide variety of skis being used, from almost-stock old skis, to the latest full-carbon 900, and anything in-between.

In US you don't need a number on your jetski, nor on your vest, but if your country requires it, then you can use duct tape if you don't have a sticker handy.

GEAR

Regular jetski stuff -- gloves, shoes and vest. Helmet is not mandatory, but is certainly recommended if you don't feel comfortable riding without it. Some of the world's best riders wear helmet in competition, so don't think twice about it.

You should also bring a cart to haul the ski from the pits to the beach.

It's a good idea to bring a canopy for the beach, because at most events a shade is a precious commodity.

Fuel canister is a must -- you are in charge of fueling your ski.

WHEN

Check out the competition calendar on jetGP.com for the schedule.  Competitions are generally held on Saturday and Sunday (one competition each day).

TRANSPORTATION

You will need a way to bring your jetski to the competition.  Generally, AM competitors use their own trucks to drive to events, or get together with other riders to cut down on transportation cost.

PIT AREA

Drive up to the pit parking area where you will be able to park your truck for the duration of the event.

ACCOMMODATION

If the competition is in a small city, or a city has other events on the same day, it's a good idea to call local hotels in advance and make a reservation. Check out the details on jetGP.com for each event, where you can find out more info about city/venue, etc.

REGISTRATION

1. In general, you will need to get a licence to compete. This sounds serious, but it's very simple -- find out which organization is in charge of the competition (UIM, APBA, IJSBA...) and pay their annual membership (usually less than $50).  You should do this in advance online, but sometimes you can do it at the event.  This membership allows you to participate in any event that organization has on schedule during that year.  You will also receive a rule book, which mainly deals with racing, but has a small portion about freestyle.  Even though it's mostly basic and quite technical, it's not a bad idea to read it.

2. You also need to register at the event. For US National tour there is no entry fee for freestylers. But, you still need to go to the event, find the registration tent and fill out a form with your name, address, and sign a waiver that basically says you are in charge of your own life and decisions you make, so the organizer is not responsible if you decide to do something stupid and hurt yourself.  Freestylers can generally register later than racers, even on the day of the competition, but always check the event schedule ahead of time.  This is also a good time to ask any questions you may have.  Organizers will be more than happy to help you understand all the details -- they want you to have a good time, which in turn will result in a good show for the spectators.

COMPETITION TIME

This is what you came for!

Most of the time freestyle competitions are not standalone, they are a part of many jetski races being held that weekend.  Usually in the middle of the racing day it's time for freestylers to bring their machines to the tower area (where judges are) and have a brief riders meeting with the event coordinator.  You will draw balls for the order in which you will compete.  Once everyone is ready, all the freestylers will go out together on the water for a 5-min warmup.  The idea is to warm up yourself and your machine, so do whatever you normally do before riding hard.  If there are a lot of competitors, this can get crowded, so be careful.

After 5 minutes are up, you will be called back and the first competitor will have 2 minutes to wow the judges and the crowd.  Then, the next competitor, and so on.  Eventually it will be your turn to compete.  Relax and have fun.  When you are done judges will announce their scores and overall results for each competitor.  This also means that your name and result will show up on jetGP.com !  You are now officially a competitive freestyler.

Then it's time for "expression session", non-mandatory 5-10 minutes in which all freestylers go out on the water again, but this time it's purely for fun and for spectators' enjoyment.  Do whatever you want, try that new trick you worked on but were not sure you could execute in competition, and see how the crowd reacts.  At some venues the organizer may bring two boats which will create V-wake for freestylers to jump.

Official results will be posted on the pit wall some time later, and that's it for Saturday, you can rest and figure out what to do on Sunday, when you will compete again.

Sunday's schedule is the same as Saturday's, with one notable exception -- if you end up top 3 for the weekend, there is a podium ceremony after the competition and you will get a trophy for your result.  Now that you read this article so far, let me be honest with you -- everything else is irrelevant, podium and trophies are what it's all about!  They are the main difference between a competitor and a casual rider.  If you win a trophy, you bring it home and can show it to girls, and later your kids (whom you will have with one of the girls you will impress with the trophy).

Report from the event may also be shown on TV.

REGIONAL COMPETITIONS

Another, more relaxed, more friendly, less competitive type of freestyle competition may be going on in your region of the country. jetGP does not have the ability to cover all of these events around the world at the moment, so you will need to find your local promoter.  Regionals generally have less competitors and often combine AM and PRO.  The schedule is more flexible and may change often, so you need to stay informed.

ANNUAL EVENTS

Once-a-year events, such as King's Cup in Thailand, World Finals in Arizona, and others are generally geared toward more experienced riders and expect you to know your way around a competition. They may require qualifying in case of a large turnout.  These events are not recommended for your first competition.