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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Dave Davidson is a veteran of the jet ski racing circuit after first competing over 25 years ago. In that time he has seen the sport grow from strength-to-strength alongside his career as he moved away from closed-circuit racing this year.
"I started racing on a Kawasaki X2 that I purchased brand new in 1989 after renting a stand-up 440 Jet Ski while on vacation in Fort Meyers Beach, Florida."
"Being from Canada I really didn't know that there were any jet ski races. The dealer that sold the machine to me was actually participating in a race a couple hours from home in a few weeks, so I tagged along to see what it was all about."
"It seemed that I was hooked. We didn't have a large turnout the first year, but by 1990 Kawasaki Canada, the only real manufacturer back then, was funding and running a cross Canada National Tour, as well as Provincial Series in each province. We suddenly had large turn-outs and it seemed that this was a fast growing sport."
"All of the racing I have done over the years has been the closed course style racing, with the exception of a couple of years in the mid 90's when we would do 45 minute off-shore motos on the Saturday, and closed course on the Sunday. By then I was riding a Yamaha Superjet but I had never owned or raced a runabout machine until this year."
"After 27 years or so of closed course racing, I was looking for a change. I was, and am, really getting tired of all the different classes and variations in the rules that has gone on over the past number of years on the closed course side of things."
The frustration and opportunity for a new challenge has led the XX-year-old to compete in this year's 300 AM class in both the Florida and North East series.
"I had heard about AquaX running off-shore endurance races in Florida so I spoke with some of the riders competing in them, and was told that it is the best run series out there."
"I purchased a 2017 Yamaha GP1800 to give this form of racing a try. P1 put on a really professional series and treat the riders like they are welcome and important, and seem to really want to further growth of the sport. Something some promoters have been forgetting over the years."
"Their promotion and TV broadcasts of the events truly make this sport look very professional which, as a racer, makes you feel good about what you are doing."
What makes Davidson want to get up and race on a weekend? What is it that drives him to put his body through the wars in order to compete on the AquaX Tour?
"The endurance racing is a lot about the rider competing against the water more than how much money you have to put into a ski like closed course racing."
"It is like running a marathon, there is satisfaction in finishing an event, surviving what the water throws at you that day."
"Don't get me wrong, I still want to win races but the atmosphere at the event and the attitude between the riders is different than closed course racing, in my opinion. It is a form of racing that different levels of riders can complete in, side-by-side, on the same course, at the same time."
"The newer riders have a drive to get better each race, to catch and surpass the more experience racers. With the now countless classes and levels of racing in closed course events, you don't get that same opportunity."
Davidson heads to Chicago this weekend in search of a piece of silverware with the second and final round of the North East series set to conclude on Lake Michigan.
After securing two second place finishes and a third at the opening round in Whiting behind pro racer Jay Edworthy, Davidson holds every chance of taking his place on the podium.
“Whiting went almost as good as I could have expected. Jay is a close friend and a great racer. He was also the only pro racer in the field. Going 2-2-3 could only have been improved by getting a second instead of a third in the final race. I came close, but Jason [Lester] rode great and held me off at the finish."
"Jay is a great and very experienced rider, and also races at a Pro level. He was definitely in a class of his own that weekend. But that is the great thing about AquaX, sometimes you are on the course with pro racers or even more experienced amateur racers, so it gives you a chance to see what level you are really at and the motivation to improve every round."
"Jason is a good rider as well. He did fairly well with a sixth in April's meeting in DaytonA, the only other round that he competed in. This is my first year on a runabout of any kind, so I was pumped to be able to compete with Jason, who has been on runabouts for a little longer than me.”
Davidson will face different conditions this time around, as well as some familiar faces who will have travelled up from the Florida Series to compete, but he is expecting to hold an advantage due to his experience in the northern waters.
"I expect Chicago to be a very choppy, rough water race. These are conditions that we 'northern' riders are more familiar with over the ocean conditions found in Florida.
"When it comes down to it, the best riders can ride in any conditions and do well. I have to have strong races all weekend and stay on the ski. These water conditions are very unpredictable and caused even some of the best riders in the world to come off their machines last year."
In order to take the title this weekend Davidson believes consistency is the key, although Edworthy will be hard to catch if arriving in the same form as Whiting.
"I must have good finishes in all of my races, and at least be better than Jason, who is only five points behind me, to even have a chance at the North East title.
"Jason is very familiar with the type of water that Lake Michigan can throw at you and will be ready to make up those few points.
"Meanwhile, Jay has 75 points going into this so if I do not have strong finishes I may not be able to catch him and he could once again win this series back-to-back.”
Watch live racing, catch up on highlights and read full race reports throughout the weekend on our Facebook page.