Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah from the IJSBA headquarters in cold, but sunny Half Moon Bay.  In this season many of us celebrate both spiritual and secular versions of the winter holidays.  Both the faithful and the conscious agree on the focus on togetherness and community.  IJSBA is a community institution of more than 40 years.  In this past year, the PWC Racing family has celebrated victories, welcomed innovations, and gathered to create the absolute best racing on the face of the earth.  In doing so we have shared each other’s triumph both on the course and navigating through the obstacles of life.  IJSBA has been proud to guide many of you, in the watercraft community, through championships, finishing school research projects, applying for visas, receiving grants, welcoming new families, saying goodbye to loved ones, and developing new racing careers.

2016 saw us hit the 35 year mark, at World Finals, and another increase in racer participation.  We take the responsibility of preserving the sport and forging the future seriously.  This holiday update will let you know everything we have cooking for 2017.  The post World Finals workload has been the heaviest in this current administration.  We have spent several hours, literally, every single day, in discussing the future of powerful runabouts, Freestyle, and, especially how the Ski classes will evolve after the announcement of the 2017 Kawasaki SX-R.  Hell, this could be the last update of the year because the calls and emails are still coming in heavily.  The only thing we know for sure right now is that we shouldn’t reference hell when we are writing an update on Christmas day.  So, sorry about that.  Anyway, we always end the opening section of an update asking you to share the following news and information with your friends and colleagues in the PWC Racing Community.  Please do this.  Please also take a moment to reflect on this season of togetherness and to be grateful that we all get to look forward to another year of excitement and camaraderie.


  1. Christmas presents.

This holiday season we are pleased to receive two wonderful gifts that we would like to acknowledge.  First, we are proud to receive the news that the 2017 IJSBA European Finals will be held July 5-9 in Pochiam, Austria.  This is made possible by support from the Belassi company.  Belassi is a maker of PWC that are not currently homologated through IJSBA.  This ought to make the next couple of weeks interesting with rumors and discussions.  No matter what the outcome, we greatly thank them for their support of our sport and look forward to next formal meetings (we had a nice chat during King’s Cup).  Second, we are very happy to welcome back an official representation of IJSBA in France. France has more than 400 pilots some of whom routinely dominate races all around the world.  We are lucky to have their advice and participation in the evolution of the sport.  For the last several years, the French IJSBA dues and communication was handled through private clubs or sponsors.  We thank them for their part in keeping the system in place and we very much look forward to the future.  These are, of course, just two of the many wonderful things that have happened over the past month but, we wanted to focus on these for this update.


  1. Ronny Mac is heading to IJSBA new website to follow.

IJSBA is very very pleased to let you know that we have twisted Ronny McHenry’s arm suffienctly that he has agreed to come to IJSBA and work, in house, for a couple of weeks to redesign the IJSBA webpage.  Ronny’s photographic and artistic abilities are only matched by his passion and love for the sport.  We will bring you more updates as soon as we have them official or you can just keep checking ijsba.com until the website finally looks like it was designed after the arrival of four stroke engines.  Ronny already has his own private office, in the building, waiting for him.  Although cloves make lovely seasonings in many of the holiday desserts, they may not be smoked indoors- even in private offices, in the State of California.  Just thought we would mention that.


  1. What’s going on.

You know we have got to find a way to bring some understanding here today.  You guys have ideas for change- lots of them…and good ones at that!  We have had a hell of a time (sorry, again) trying to synthesize all of them into a fluid plan that encompasses all of them but we think we have done a good job.  Marvin Gaye wrote the here mentioned song one year before the first Jet-Ski was released otherwise we would expect he would mention riding as a way to bring people closer together (it is no surprise, however, what Sexual Healing was released just after the very first IJSBA World Finals- clearly inspired by the euphoria felt by the new sensation of racing PWC in Lake Havasu City).  None-the-less, we titled this section of the update after the song to let you know what we have been working on.



If you are a Freestlye competitor, you probably have written us letting us know some changes you would like to see in the future.  There is no doubt the Freestyle portion of the sport needs some reviewing.  The old method of scoring and presenting the skills of a Freestyle competitor does not take into account the wide array of tricks and maneuvers and hull technology available today.  As a result, there are questions whether so many varying routines of combinations can be judged, uniformly, at the same time.  We are hearing consistent messages on subject like mandatory tricks, point deductions for repeat tricks, shorter routines, and updated scoring criteria.  It is pertinent that we hear from everyone on this subject because IJSBA would like the Freestlye community to drive the direction we head in.  If you have not sent in your comments on this subject then we urge you to do so immediately.


Speed Control

The 2017 SX-R will mark the first mass production unit that IJSBA intends to require that competitors reduce the speed in stock based classes rather than allow for speed increasing performance enhancements.  The new Ski, however, will not be the only PWC where IJSBA targets speed control.  IJSBA intends to begin a series of steps where we start limiting the speeds which can achieved on a Closed Course (Endurance Racing you may be on target as well).  Restrictor plates and reduced exit nozzles are being tested now and we plan to have speed control be a major part of the racing program by 2018.


It is the belief of IJSBA that contemporary watercraft may already be achieving speeds greater than is compatible in a closed course without dramatically increasing the size of the course or altering the turns and patterns that make the category of racing identifiable as the current standards.  Nobody ever anticipated 80 mile per hour runabout stock classes or 65 mile per hour Ski stock classes.  We are not saying that current speeds need to be cut in half.  We are saying that we have reached what we feel is the limit.  We do not intend on removing any current provisions (I.e. reprogramming OEM ECU) the idea is to add speed control measures to existing rules systems.


To make sure this notice is not confused: IJSBA expects to add speed control measure to many classes such as restrictor plates, boost regulators, and restrictive nozzles.  IJSBA expects that Stock and Limited classes will otherwise remain the same for watercraft that are currently homologated.  IJSBA predicts few changes for 2017 and the bulk of these changes to take place in 2018.




IJSBA intends to take continue the division of naturally aspirated and forced induction runabouts as two separate categories for competition.  In addition, IJSBA plans to introduce policies that further separate runabouts in two divisions: horsepower below 200 and horsepower above 200.  This will create an important distinction where we assure that like powered PWC are on the line together and that stricter consideration can be given to higher horsepower watercraft.  Concepts include:


-No speed controls for Runabouts IJSBA concludes cannot exceed 200 horsepower (in Stock of Limited forms).  This will help avoid entry level competitors from having to purchase and affix devices which restrict output.

-Increased mandatory riding gear for Runabouts above 200 horsepower (leg guards, etc.)

-Minimum track sizes for Runabouts over 200 horsepower or, in the alternative, creating a system where closed course tracks are designed for Ski and Runabouts under 200 horsepower while Runabouts above 200 horsepower compete using a path around the perimeter of the track utilizing a few of the inner track’s chicanes.  (The Australian Jet Sports Boating Association has made an excellent contemporary digital dossier, on this subject, which is very similar to some standard IJSBA texts that we still have in three ring binders.  We find that the theories on standards remain reasonably constant but need updating for the unexpected speeds we have today.).

-Recreational/Sportsman classes, where competitors are likely to stay in the same category for most of their careers, to be based off of 200 horsepower and below designations.  These classes would include provisions where constant winners would be rotated out.


IJSBA wants to continue with all of the Stock and Limited classes that we currently offer.  However, with speeds and costs in these classes increasing to levels never before anticipated, we find an immediate need to focus on speed and cost controls to create classes attractive to customers with no motorsports experience.  With watercraft such as the Sea-Doo Spark, and Yamaha EX, now offering low speed and low priced alternatives to 300 horsepower Runabouts, we have an opportunity to open a door for the pricing and power similar to when PWC Racing enjoyed peak levels of participation.  We may, ultimately, discover that the people who migrate to racing are generally those who migrate to high powered watercraft and there is little market otherwise.  However, we cannot pass up this unique opportunity to provide more affordable racing with more comfortable speed controls.


IJSBA is very happy with the amount of people who are coming to now accept restrictor plates, and other speed controls as necessary for a sustainable Runabout program.  Please send in your comments if you have not done so already.




IJSBA has logged in more than 400 hours, since World Finals, on discussing the subject of Ski Racing alone.  Several hundred emails and phone calls have kept a dialogue going where we think we have synthesized the bulk of your requests as best as can be done without turning the current system upside down.  Here is an overview of how this looks like it is going to play out.


Pro Weekend At Word Finals

                  This is the number one question on the table.  What is going to happen at World Finals?  On Pro Saturday, we will run Ski GP which is the following make up: naturally aspirated two stroke Mod Skis will line up with forced induction four stroke powered Ski with displacements of 900cc or below.  Naturally aspirated four stroke of 1500 cc and below may compete so long as the Ski complies with 2016 aftermarket hull dimensions.  This is the same program as last year including the requirement to run slalom for overall points.  Pro and ranking Expert licensed competitors may join in this category.  The entire competition will run on Saturday.

On Sunday, all of the above mentioned Ski may compete in Pro Ski Modified so long as competitors have a Pro License or conditional pending Pro license approval.  The new 2017 Kawasaki SX-R shall be restricted to an OEM hull.  Forced induction four strokes, up to 1100cc may compete with the installation of an IJSBA approved boost regulator and other speed control measures IJSBA may implement.  We do not have the boost levels yet and if we do not have additional speed control Slalom is not used for scoring in this category of competition.  The entire competition will run on Sunday.  There will be additional practice Sunday morning to allow for any course changes or change in the log jumps.

So, here you have it: Ski GP= same as 2016.  Ski Mod= runs on Sunday only and is an updated set of rules to allow for the new SX-R and the newer Yamaha 1050 engine to run with a turbo if sufficient boost controls are in place.  Turbocharged Spark engines and Hydrospace may also be subject to boost control.

Ski Stock

                Ski Stock shall now use rules similar to Runabout Stock.  There is an additional requirement that Skis must have been produced with the last three years.  This effectively excludes the Hydrospace from Ski Stock.  Speed control measures shall be in place in all classes except Pro Am Ski Stock.

Ski Lites

                Ski Lites shall remain unchanged.  Novice Women’s Ski will become a Lites Class for 2017.


Ski Limited

                Ski Limited shall be expected to remain the same as 2016.  The boost level may be lowered on Hydrospace units.  The 2017 Kawasaki SX-R, shall be allowed to participate so long as it is built to Ski Stock specifications and speed control measures are in place.  This is also the formula for Pro Am Ladies Ski.

Expert Ski Mod, Masters Ski Mod, Veterans Ski Mod, Etc.

                All classes with Mod/Open designation shall use the same formula used in Pro Ski Mod.  Speed controls are being considered for the new SX-R.


IJSBA believes the above referenced changes take into account the bulk of the public’s concerns


  1. What are speed controls?

IJSBA wants to be very specific in what we are talking about when we mention “speed controls.”  We have three things in mind: restrictor plates, boost control, and exit nozzle restrictions.  Many motorsports use restrictor plates to ensure a cap on top speeds.  Your current IJSBA administration began advocating for this requirement back in 2006 and the community did not quite seem interested in controlling top speeds.  As time went on, we started getting some support as people saw aftermarket technology achieving speeds at an increasingly upward pace.  The difficulty, in relation to PWC, is that using a restrictor plate requires ECU reprograming to account for reduced airflow.  As IJSBA was also preparing to remove aftermarket ECU from some classes, this would have placed a barrier to introducing restrictor plates into many of the classes where speed control is needed.  Now, technology exists to easily remap all OEM ECU.  We will be aggressively exploring these options in 2017 with a goal of implementation in 2018.


Boost control is something IJSBA has already implemented on turbocharged Ski Units.  Manual boost regulators are more easily implemented on turbocharged units.  Nearly all forced induction Runabouts, in Stock and Limited configurations, are supercharged.  This makes using a boost regulator a little more complicated.  Specific sized supercharger pulley systems can be used to limit boost but this is also not without complications- particularly with ensuring compliance at the regional level.


Controlling the size of the exit nozzle/venture is the final method of speed control IJSBA is prepared to implement.  By itself, the effects here will be nominal.  However, it is currently the method we are prepared to introduce.  In addition to having this technology readily available, it is the easiest to police and the easiest to install.  This type of speed control will be used, in 2017, on the new Kawasaki SX-R in Stock Classes as well as Limited Classes where the SX-R is allowed.  Restricting the nozzle too much will not be effective and will result in potential negative results.


Ultimately, if we are to achieve our eventual goal of proper speed controls, we are going to be using some combination of the above three methods.  The plan is to have a table of corresponding columns indicating: whether the unit is supercharged or turbocharged, the displacement of the engine, and the weight of the unit.  Matching the proper columns will result in an instruction for boost control, restrictor plate opening size, and maximum exit nozzle size. Research is under way on restrictor plates now.  Skat-Trak has developed a control nozzle for the new SX-R that we will be testing in January.  The SX-R is the only watercraft that will see a control nozzle in 2017.  Boost control will be in place in Ski classes as well.


  1. Lump of coal: cost of membership to rise in 2017.

This announcement is sure to be disappointing.  IJSBA competition membership will increase to $60.00 per year for new members.  Did you catch that?  For new members.  If you are a current IJSBA competition member, your renewal price will be $50.00 in 2017 and then rise $5.00 in 2018 and each remaining year until it gets on par with the annual membership cost.  Please keep in mind that the $5.00 early discount renewal option still applies.  So, you can still renew, for $45.00, in 2017 which is the current price of membership.  Just follow the early renewal instructions sent to you with your membership card.  Also, please note that memberships are still $45.00 now and are good for 12 months. IJSBA memberships have been $45 for like 20 years please try to be forgiving in your letters to us.


  1. What is IJSBA doing with the extra money for the memberships?

Good question.  We often ask PG&E, the water company, the gas station, and our health insurers the same question.  However, in this case, we actually have some answers.  IJSBA is planning on investing in some new starting gate equipment, some fencing for World Finals, new signage and banners for our affiliates and promoters, a redesigned website and new scoring/operation software, and to increase staffing.


  1. IJSBA to increase staffing.

What a perfect lead in, right?  We are increasing staffing here.  IJSBA does quite a bit of services that people do not realize.  In addition to sanctioning and governing PWC racing IJSBA provides external research for the OEMs, assists in the drafting of government regulations, consults on insurance matters for underwriters, provides commentary for non competition PWC uses such as tow-in surfing, provides resources and testimony for members in matters such as immigration, confirms resumes for perspective sponsors, assists organizers with grant writing, and numerous other activities.  We are bringing in a full time office assistant as we had about ten months ago as well as out sourcing some of the office tasks to staff experienced in the PWC business.  Most importantly, we are very happy to announce that we will be bringing in house an US Competition Club manager.  We have just about worked out the final details of the roles and responsibilities of this position.


  1. Competition clubs.

Continuing on with the trend of building off of the last paragraph we have been working on trying to start competition clubs in the United States.  We used to have a somewhat similar program in the USA but clubs were seen of less of a necessity when the internet came around and help people organize and exchange information without the need for formal gatherings.  This time around, IJSBA is seeking to organize these clubs for the purposes of having smaller scale racing that will not interfere with the promoter system or create situations where smaller infrastructure is overtaxed by large turnouts.  The economy of putting on normal IJSBA events requires higher level of frontloading of monies and efforts.  IJSBA is planning to facilitate both mediums with a two tiered cost approach as well as two tiered benefits for participating.  This is something we have announced efforts for previously.  This time, we are going to have a guy in charge of making it happen.  More information will be announced shortly once the deal with that guy is completed.


  1. IJSBA to arrange guaranteed purchases of 2017 SX-R with participating dealers in the USA.

About ten years ago, the last time a new game changing Ski was released, IJSBA placed into the homologation requirement that IJSBA could ensure the availability of the unit, to competitors, if the unit were in short supply.  As we anticipate the 2017 SX-R to be in short supply along with heavy demand from the recreational community.  If you are planning to compete on an SX-R, in 2017, and are having difficulty reserving a unit, please send an email to info@ijsba.com and we will attempt to pair you with a participating dealer for a delivery once available.


  1. 2017 SX-R are expected to be homologated by the 2017 Mark Hahn on February 12.

The official announcement for the 2017 Mark Hahn 300  was made here:  https://ijsba.com/2016/12/14/hot-products-upd…300-announcement. Hot Products and RPM Racing have arranged for a Four Stroke Modified Class and we plan for the 2017 SX-R to be both homologated and available for this category.  IJSBA will arrange pairing with local dealers for persons who want to participate in this event on this unit.


  1. Yamaha EX homologation and categories.

IJSBA expects the Yamaha EX watercraft to be homologated reasonably soon.  As a reminder, IJSBA shall have 1100 Stock, Limited, and Superstock classes.  These are intended to replace the 800 two stroke classes by having the 800s merge with the new four stroke categories.  Also note that while Sparks may enter in the 1100 Stock Class, Rec Lites will remain unchanged for 2017 (which effectively excludes the EX).


Well, as a late Christmas Present to all you, this update is ending early.   No sooner did Christmas day turn into evening that calls and emails started to roll in.  In fairness, most of these anxious persons were a day ahead on the calendar.  This caused a slowdown in progress on an update that just seems impossible to finish over the last 4 weeks.  This update was put back on the backburner again, and I guess we will pick it up again in a few days.  But the above information should give you the direction of what is happening and give you some refined concepts to digest and return to us after you have considered these proposed directions.

Happy holidays to all and we wish you a wonderful upcoming New Year’s Eve.