AquaX is the fastest growing personal watercraft championship in the world. Its rapid growth is owed to a simple, yet challenging race format that appeals to todays personal watercraft users.
This year the program will include the unveiling of a professional level race series and expansion of two further championships in the Great Lakes region of the USA and in Southeast Asia.
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Photography credit @david_lando
After 18months of being side-lined due to the coronavirus pandemic, P1 AquaX racing returned to the ocean with its Race to the Bahamas season opener at the Hard Rock Hotel, Daytona Beach, Florida this past weekend.
The sixty riders that made the trip to compete in what is considered to be the toughest race on the P1 calendar were not disappointed to be greeted by the usual challenging conditions expected from the Atlantic Ocean.
Going into the weekend, reigning champion Brian Baldwin and the World Ranked No.1 rider and AquaX World Champion Eric Francis were the favourites to take the win, along with two-time veteran AquaX champion Chris MacClugage who is known for his surf-riding prowess.
However, a surge of new talent upgrading from the amateur ranks in the form of Chris Landis, Greg Radulski and Tory Snyder would be joining previous Pro Rookies Christian Daly and Sophie Francis in a bid to break the ‘big 3’ stranglehold.
Day 1 finished with business as usual, with Brian Baldwin taking top honours. But earlier in the race a fiery Christian Daly passed Chris MacClugage for the lead and led comfortably for several laps before taking an untimely spill which gifted Baldwin the victory. More notably, Tory Snyder, a Pro Rookie, broke the top 3 in his first Pro outing, laying the foundations for what was to come.
Read Day 1 report here
Come Sunday, the conditions had calmed but remained challenging enough to provide plenty of thrills and spills to bring the spectators out in droves. “We love this event - we missed it so much last year and the racing was amazing yesterday so we came back to day,” commented an enthusiastic spectator.
After suffering a mechanical breakdown the day before, Chris MacClugage was back out and charging, grabbing the RideNow holeshot award and running away with the lead. Pro Rookie Tory Synder once again was at the pointed end, dropping into second ahead of Brian Baldwin and Chris Landis. As the race continued, 17-year-old Snyder reeled in the veteran of almost 30 years his senior to close the gap enough to make the pass for the lead and the eventual win. “I’m speechless”, said an overwhelmed Synder. “It was hard work but I had a great start, came out in second and then quickly made a move on Chris. I got a good rhythm and I finished it.”
MacClugage remained in second until the end of the race but the surprise third position was taken by new mum Sophie Francis. Sophie is the first woman to finish in the top 3 in any race since the Pro series was launched in 2016. An incredible feat considering she only gave birth to her daughter Willow – who she shares with AquaX world champion Eric Francis - 12 weeks previously. Francis finished behind her in fourth place. The top finishers from the opening day, Brian Baldwin and Christian Daly, both suffered mechanical issues and dropped back in the field.
The final Pro Enduro of the day eventually got underway after stormy weather delayed the action. Former Sea-Doo turned Yamaha FX SVHO racer Eminio Iantosca, who returned to racing after a couple of years away from the sport, led the field into the first turn claiming the final RideNow holeshot award and a Yeti cooler courtesy of the local RideNow Daytona Beach dealership. More trouble befell Brian Baldwin after a failed clutch scuppered any chance of a repeat of the day before.
MacClugage fell in behind Iantosca and within a lap he made a move to take the lead. RIVA Racing rider Chris Landis settled into third but as the race progressed Broward-backed racers Christian Daly and Eric Francis passed Landis for third and fourth respectively. Sea-Doo’s Tim Ducat held off Tory Synder for fifth and that’s the order in which the race finished.
It was obvious that Maclugage was delighted to take home the final win of the weekend and secure a third place on the podium despite suffering a DNF in the first race. Erminio Iantosca held on to second which gave him second place on the podium. “Really pleased with taking 2nd overall; still learning my new Yamaha FX and need to improve on a few things but can’t thank Yamaha Dean’s team enough for all their hard to get me on the box,” enthused Iantosca.
But the big story of the weekend was that Tory Snyder, the youngest rider in the field competing in the most challenging race of the season, stood on top of the P1 AquaX Pro Enduro podium. “I was pretty confident going into this round” explained a surprisely relaxed Synder. “I have a good team around me. Great boats and great mechanics in Dean’s Team and Synder Built.”
Favourites for the win Brian Baldwin (8th) and Eric Francis (6th) both finished outside the top 5 behind another Pro Rookie Chris Landis and youngster Christian Daley.
Graham Hunt continued his winning ways from day 1 throughout the weekend to make it a hat-trick of wins to secure top step on the Am300 podium. Despite briefly leading Race 2, Yaniel Fiallo had to settle for second ahead of another AquaX regular Eric Diaz. Frankie Mojica took the overall win in AM200 ahead of Rookies, Jamal Reyes and Andre Edmiston.
The Pro Sprint class was won by Jimmy Wilson, who took wins in the opening two races, but Deven Farthing took top honours in Race 3 ahead of Isaiah Washington. Overall, it was Wilson, Washington with Farthing in third.
Eric Lagopoulos added the overall Sprint SE win to his tenth place finish in the Pro Enduro class. Arnold Martinez and Clinton Pace ???
Deven Farthing inched out Johnny Smith for the win in Pro Sport GP with Glen Yung in third.
Racing returns in two weeks time for Round 2 of the Florida Sprint and Amateur Enduro series in St Cloud on the May 1st. For more details follow the link For more details follow the link