IJSBA is alerting the Personal Watercraft Racing Community as to rulings that took place at the 2023 Kings Cup event in Pattaya, Thailand.  Some sponsons were deemed illegal for competition based on language in the currently posted Competition Rulebook.   This update will discuss the status of this ruling.


To begin, different organizers employ different technical inspectors and different race directors.  These contract workers are specific to those events.  The only event that is normally produced, directly, by IJSBA, is the World Finals- the single round World Championship for our sport.  Even there, technical inspectors and race directors are contractors.  Any comment or decision by any contractor is always specific to that event.  Official interpretations, where necessary, only come from IJSBA and are, generally, codified in the Competition Rulebook and posted online.  Opinions by any contractor posted on social media are not rulings by IJSBA.  Emails that do not come from an addresses @ijsba.com are not rulings by IJSBA and should not be relied upon.


It is important to note that the Kings Cup, which is also the final round of the WGP-1 IJSBA World Series, had, this year, one of the finest teams that could be compiled.  Race Directors Ross More, Patrick Mell, and Peter DeSmet have been chief executive at some of the world’s most prestigious races including many National, World, and Continental Championships.  The technical inspectors are very experienced and are veterans of the event for many years.  IJSBA supports the skill and judgment of these advisors and any of them would be a first call to work at any event with IJSBA’s highest possible recommendation.  This bulliten is simply about a process and how technical rulings evolve.  Competitors should not take any information in this bulliten as a lack of agreement with any ruling.


According to reports sent to IJSBA, technical inspectors evaluated sponson blades from a specific competitor and determined that no part of the sponson blade was the required 6mm in thickness.  This brought the technical inspectors to further evaluate other sponsons which were not 6mm in some places.  As the report reads, the technical inspectors slated inspected sponsons that had any area under 6mm for disqualification.  The decisions was reviewed by both technical inspectors and race directors.  The sponsons in question were blades fixed to the bond rail as are allowed in Ski categories.  At least three riders were disqualified.


IJSBA Rules allow for appeals to be issued in certain circumstances following a technical disqualification.  No appeal was made for any disqualification.  As no appeal was made, the rulings stand and there is no discussion to be had about the ruling at the event.  The matter is closed and IJSBA supports the efforts of the directors and inspectors in using their best judgment.


Rulings reportedly relied upon the following text in the Ski GP section of IJSBA’s Competition Rule Book:


  “Aftermarket or modified sponsons must exceed 6mm (0.24 in.) in thickness. All leading edges must be radiused so as not to create a hazard. Sponsons may not be attached to the planing surfaces of the hull. Fins, rudders, skegs and other appendages that may create a hazard will not be allowed. (See diagrams in Appendix.) Sponsons may be attached to the inside of the bond flange, but no part of the sponson may extend more than 38.00mm (1.50 in.) below the lower part of the bond flange (bumper removed). Sponsons attached to the inside of the bond flange shall not protrude outside the bond flange (bumper removed) when measured in a level horizontal plane. The decision of the Technical Director and/or Race Director regarding modifications will be final. Any question regarding the legality of modifications should be directed to the IJSBA or IJSBA affiliate prior to use in competition.”


Note, first, that this rule directs competitors to inquire to IJSBA any sponson in question PRIOR to competition.  The rule further dictates that IJSBA will not question an officials ruling about sponson compliance which puts the subject outside of appeal unless the rider is alleging corruption or discrimination in the ruling.  Again, no appeal was made.


IJSBA’s Rule Book Glossary defines sponsons as follows:


  Sponson: A special surface which may be attached to the hull sides or transom for stability.

  Ski Division Only: Sponsons may be attached to the hull sides, transom or inside the bond flange portion of the hull.”


This language can be interpreted that the portion of the sponson to be evaluated is only the surface area which intersects with the water.  Historically, it cannot be disputed that sponsons with recessed areas above the bond flange have been allowed for competition.  Further, some sponsons have indentations to receive bolts and screws; these indentations make 6mm sponsons less than 6mm in the sections where the screwheads and boltheads are intended to rest.  Thus, IJSBA is left with a conflicting set of interpretations from officials at various events.   IJSBA must resolve this conflict.

The IJSBA Managing Director will recommend to the IJSBA Board of Directors that sponson language, in all classes, will be changed to allow for indentations of less than 6mm where screwheads and boltheads are placed for seating.  A recommendation will also be issued that allows for the portion of bond line affixed sponsons to be recessed above the bond line.


IJSBA wants to make it perfectly clear that this recommendation is based upon reconciling rulings based on a lot of currently existing sponsons and is not, in any way, a reflection upon any decision made by any official.

Please send any questions or comments regarding this bulliten to IJSBA by emailing info@ijsba.com.