More than sixty of the world’s leading personal watercraft riders are heading to the southernmost point in the United States right now to compete in this weekend’s inaugural Ford P1 AquaX World Championship in Key West.
Part of the Florida Keys archipelago lying at the end of the Overseas Highway just 90 miles north of Cuba, the island city of Key West is famous for lively nightlife, diving, snorkelling and watersports.
A truly international field of competitors from North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia will assemble for a weekend of fast, furious and free-to-watch marine motorsport action. We’ve been talking to some of the key parties involved – the host venue, sponsors, riders, ski manufacturers and, of course, the promoter P1 AquaX – to hear their thoughts, hopes and expectations. Here’s what they had to say:
As Mayor of the City of Key West and a boat racing world champion, I am definitely look forward to hosting the jet ski World Championship. Key West has a long history of hosting such events. Some of the most beautiful waters in the world surround our island paradise and, with so many maritime records attempted and broken here, it is the perfect venue to stage this exciting event.
Craig Cates, Mayor of Key West (since 2009)
We are excited about hosting this first P1 AquaX world event here in Key West. Our tropical landscape and serene waters are the perfect backdrop for racing. There is no betther combination than sport and water – it brings such such excitement and exhilaration to the crowds. Hurricane Irma really impacted on the number of tourists Key West and its sister islands have welcomed this Fall, and the P1 racing will be a most refreshing event for locals and visitors alike.
Monica Munoz, Executive Director of Key West Attractions Association
South Florida Ford is proud to partner with partner with P1 AquaX and help bring greater awareness of jet ski racing to this region. With most watersports enthusiasts needing a vehicle capable of pulling their skis and boats, no other vehicle is beats Ford’s number one selling F-Series Pick-Up truck.
Gregg Snowden, South Florida Ford
I’m very excited to be ending the season in Key West with the first ever P1 AquaX World Championship, sponsored by Ford. Key West is so beautiful but it can serve up very rough conditions. I believe I have a very good chance of winning as I’ve been training hard and, having won the last two rounds in the series, I’m carrying a lot of momentum into this weekend and in good shape to take on the other top riders.
Eric Francis, one of the favourites to become world champion
My comeback this year had its trials. As a racer I experienced injury, suffered mechanical problems and attended to business affairs while working to keep my season afloat. Nevertheless, I dominated when on the water and was a tough contender as I have always been. My focus is clear as I prepare for Key West. I race for one reason and that is to win.
Nicolas Rius, Pro Racer and a leading contender
Erminio Iantosca has proven to be Sea-Doo’s top AquaX rider this year and he has a new 2018 Sea-Doo RXT-X-300 that he’s been testing. But I can’t say if he will ride it in Key West over his RXP-X that he’s been riding for more than five years. Whatever he decides there is no question that, with several more months of testing, the new RXT-X will be the model to beat in 2018.
Tim McKercher of Sea-Doo
I’ve lived in Florida for four years and it is the perfect location to enjoy our sport and to host our inaugural world championship. Key West has a long and proud history of staging marine motorsport events and it’s great to bring a new marine racing sport to the Keys with Ford as the title sponsor this weekend. P1 AquaX has grown significantly since its launch six years ago and now attracts world class riders to its Pro Series whilst leading amateur racers compete in three different classes.
Azam Rangoonwala, P1 Chief Executive
This weekend’s event will be enjoyed by a sizeable audience both in Key West and through television coverage on major sports networks in more than 150 countries and live streaming on Facebook. As Key West comes back to life after the hurricane in September, we hope that our event will help to attract visitors and provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Lisa Barsby, Global Head of P1 AquaX and a former world champion jet skier
The race course will take the riders along Smathers Beach, with White Street Pier providing great viewing. Racing starts at 1.00pm on Saturday and 10.00am on Sunday. In addition to the P1 AquaX racing there will be surf jet and flyboard shows.