Greetings to the Personal Watercraft Racing Community. Just over a month ago, the gates to the 2014 Jettribe World Finals closed. There were many exciting moments, some great racing, and, by now, everyone has returned home, and has packed up for the King’s Cup, or has started preparing for their 2015 competition season. Our 2015 plans started long before the last Pro Ski competitor crossed the finish lines and we are prepared to tell you all about the things we are working on. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, as there is a lot to cover in this update- a whole lot! We didn’t release this yesterday because too many people would have still been in a Thanksgiving food coma and would not have stayed awake long enough to read the whole thing. So, most of you should be out of leftovers now, and your Black Friday shopping is complete. So, there really is no excuse not to sit down and read this lengthy updated. Please share the following news with your friends and colleagues in the PWC Racing family.
2015 World Finals Dates And Location
We don’t want to burry this deep in the update, so here it is up front: The 2015 World Finals are going to be held October 3-11 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We expect to have the event in one of three locations. For now, plan that World Finals will be at Crazy Horse, one more time, and we will give you the confirmation just as soon as we know whether the site is available for us. Once we find out whether the Arizona State Lands Department has renewed the lease with Crazy Horse we will take the steps to finalize our presence for the week leading up to Columbus Day. We are pulling permits for three separate locations so that we have a venue locked down. We will post the location the second we know, but, in the meantime, do not let anything stop you from making any of your 2015 travel plans or reservations because the event will take place in Lake Havasu City on those dates. IJSBA is also doing our best to ensure that World Finals will be the only event going on in Lake Havasu City during the Pro Weekend. Expect an announcement by the end of the year.
2014 Jettribe World Finals Recap
Well, it sure was an exciting World Finals. Lots of racing, lots of drama, lots of comments afterwards. All of this builds the evolution of our sport. If you weren’t there, this is what you missed:
The racing was completely awesome at the 2014 Jettribe World Finals (we will discuss how perfectly it ran later in this update, but the quality of the competition was certainly great). As we previously reported in the short update, the track saw a serious reduction in injuries. Speeds are still increasing drastically (this is something that is requiring that we have to start discussing speed caps) and we have been designing courses that take into account the leaps and bounds that tuners and athletes have been able to make in watercraft performances. Course designs will continue to be a work in progress always and we will always do our best to bring the best ideas and the safest tracks. Nobody sets a course out better than Blake Corning and with everyone in the sport working together to discuss new ideas in track design, we will have the best tracks possible.
The beginning of the week saw a shift in competitors deciding to move up in ranks (some with a little encouragement) by departing Novice Classes. This development instantly make Amateur and Expert level classes more competitive. Larger lines were seen in classes that were once seen as fading such as Classic Runabout divisions and Veterans Runabout showed positive adjustment from converting to Limited Class rules for those PWC equipped with a turbocharger or supercharger.
A real treat was to see the growth of a second generation of top tier riders. The names Farthing, Chambers, Beaumer, and Briscoe echoed off of the loudspeaker as they had in years past but, this time, it was to acknowledge entirely new competitors. The new Juniors joined established competitors such as Prado, Disney, Wicklund, Luinstra, Saenguthai, and other well regarded young competitors, in forming a new field of contenders to carry the rivalries into the future.
The Pro ranks shined as they always have. People are still talking, frequently, about Botti’s powerful performance in rough water, Bushell scooped up another World Title in the GP Runabout Class, and Aero Aswar picked up his first ever World Championship in Runabout Stock. Kawasaki rider’s Eric Francis and Craig Warner took second place finishes despite very intense performances. Challenges were dealt to the scoring and race director staff in Pro Ski where video reviews and corrections may still alter the outcome of some lower finishes. However, Kevin Reiterer undoubtedly won the overall Pro Title with a First, Second, and Third place finish in each of the three moto’s, respectively. Did we mention Paloma? Sure we did. Lee stone’s Freestyle win earned loud cheers from the crowd after showing off his new “heel clicker” trick.
World Finals always brings the best of the very best. This is a tradition that we will continue on for many years to come. Please read all the way to the end of this update for ways we will bring you continued improvements to World Finals.
Announcing is an integral part of the World Finals, especially since we started the live stream. Announcers have the job of reporting scores and positions, informing the crowd of other activities at the site, reading sponsors remarks, entertaining the crowd between races, performing give-a-ways, and many other duties. This year, we welcomed a new announcer from the United Kingdom. He took on a momentous task of fitting in and getting up to speed on a new environment. We want to thank Tim “Thumper” Plumpton on coming out and doing a great job. We received a high volume of positive comments on his performance and we hope to bring you more of his commentary in the future. Thumper joins a legacy of Robbie Floyd, Mike Young, Rick Lake, Mike Remar, Dawn Dawson, and Dave Arnold as excellent anchors to have on the tower. We also want to acknowledge Stoyer, Iceman, and Jersey for their excellent contributions to Freestyle.
The announcing job is quite difficult. Announcers do not work in conjunction with the Race Director, or other scoring staff, except when they announce Freestyle scores. They get unfair criticism when they are calling points leads when they may not know changes due to missed buoys, technical infractions, or race director calls. It is a better environment, for communication to the racers, that the commentators are independent of the administrative staff as to avoid the announcers being censored or hesitating to describe what they see in real time. Our announcing staff did a fantastic job, as a team, keeping the pace going in a tougher environment than normal. So, this is a formal thank you to all announcers, past, and present. We hope we will find ways to have each and every one of you continue to be part of World Finals.
- Hall of Fame
IJSBA celebrated another Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Four inductees shared memories with their families and colleagues while everyone reflected on the legacy of Personal Watercraft Racing. Four persons were inducted: Roger Hubbard, Bob Phares, Blake Corning, and Rob Flores. It is always a nice to remind ourselves where we have been and to recognize those who have done so much to make our sport great. It was also amazing to realize that everyone on the stage had more than two decades, each, of involvement in IJSBA Racing and were all still contributing today.
The next Jacobsen-Stjernsrom Hall Of Fame induction will be in 2016. We encourage everyone to start preparing nominations and getting together plenty of supporting parties to help usher in the next wave of honorees. We will open the nomination process in early 2015.
- Blowsion Expression Session Under The London Bridge
This portion of the World Finals has really grown in just one year. In 2013, thousands packed the shoreline of the London Bridge Resort to watch a night show involving Pro Freestyle, Flyboard, and Sea-Doo. Blowsion, Dasa, Jet Pilot, and Bun Freestyle supported the event as well as Jetlift. Jetlift’s component system made it possible to get the freestyle watercraft over the retaining wall. Tremendous support came from Kokomos waterfront night club. Franky Zapata dazzled the crowd with his first double backflip on the Flyboard. Sea-Doo held a mini race, with members of the bounty team, set entirely on Sparks.
Originally slated to take only the top twelve competitors from round one of the Pro Freestyle competition, all participants were included in the evening competition. The shoreline stayed packed all the way through the lineup and probably would have stayed a bit longer demonstrating that the additional riders were capable of holding their attention. However, we expect to stick to the original plan for 2015 and shorten the line up so that we can add some new features to the night show which may, or may not, include ramp jumps and a high jump contest. Stay tuned for more information on the growth of the Blowsion Expression Session.
- Nations’ Cup
The 2014 Nations Cup was a cliffhanger into Pro Weekend. Kuwait took an early lead and was holding it until a Ski division put USA in the lead which was then held for the rest of the event. The maximum amount of points that a nation can earn is 300 points. After three hundred points is reached, the amount of first place finishes (and then second place finishes, etc.) breaks the ties. Here are the top ten positions for the Nations Cup.
*Tie at maximum points
- Country Count
You can see how hard the contention is for the Nations’ Cup when you see the country count. Again, World Finals has one of the planet’s largest gathering of athletes, from a single nation, all congregating at a single event. We are able to confirm athletes from these thirty eight countries. There may be one or two nations not mentioned due to the competitor not listing their country of origin on their entry form. If your country is not represented here, please contact IJSBA and we will add it:
- Cayman Islands
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
7. Trade Show
The IJSBA Trade Show continues to highlight its importance in the World Finals, the overall sport of PWC Racing, and the accompanying recreational performance segment that is so closely aligned with sanctioned competitions. Since the IJSBA World Finals first became a mainstream event, the presence of the key players in the PWC industry has steadily grown. More than 45 individual vendors showed and exhibited at the 2014 Jettribe World Finals.
The World Finals is more than the premier crowning event for a race season. The World Finals is the ultimate expression of what the sport of PWC Racing has to offer. More importantly, it is the expression of what PWC Racing offers on its own. Nowhere else in the world is there such a gathering of enthusiasts, customers, athletes, engineers, manufacturers, and designers. In an era where most marketing, advertising, and sales are done on the internet, there, remains a need for the public to see, touch, and examine products while discussing the items with a live representative. The World Finals fills this need.
Only World Finals offers a synergistic environment where PWC industry producers come together with a large contingent of individuals who use and purchase PWC products. This meeting relationship occurs in the backdrop of the best athletes in the world demonstrating the benefits of using the very products being exhibited. All PWC events throughout the planet depend on a healthy PWC performance industry being fostered. A healthy World Finals energizes racing for the upcoming season and a healthy PWC industry has strength to sponsor and support events outside of World Finals. Today, most high profile PWC events are funded by tourism based dollars seeking to attract a large number of bodies to a new locale in the hope of attracting regular visitors. However, for this equation to work, the business of PWC racing must be shown to be able to stand by itself so it can be seen as a valuable investment for those tourism dollars. The trade show portions of the World Finals delivers this foundation of comprehensive industry strength and IJSBA will continue to keep this a major focus of the event.
Naturally, we will discuss the 2014 Jettribe World Finals further as the year comes to a close and the 2015 event gets started. As always, we appreciate greatly Jettribe and their generous contributions to the sport. There will be more recaps along with a DVD and other media that will tell more of the story. Big thanks to the hard working staff, Jettribe, and the rest of the supporters for helping add another chapter to the book of PWC Racing.
Asia Beach Games News
IJSBA has just returned from the 2014 Asian Beach Games in Phuket, Thailand. This Olympic event happens every other year, and, usually, hosts a series of PWC competitions which are comprehensively called “Jet Ski Sport.” This year, the six categories were: Runabout Stock, Runabout 1000 Superstock, Runabout Open, Ski Open, Sport GP, and Runabout Open Endurance.
The Thai Sports Authority, and the Olympic Council Of Asia have been prepared each venue carefully ensuring that all logistical needs were met. To demonstrate the attention to detail put into the planning, they have released this video of a test event (albeit of Volleyball) to show how the final venue comes together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lot8BLhpIEw.
IJSBA worked the first Asia Beach Games in Bali along with our Indonesian Affiliate, Saiful Aswar. This time, we were lucky to partner with the Thai Jet Sports Boating Association and their representative Drake Parikhet. Drake’s expertise in organizing an event in Thailand is second to none. Drake brought his regular race director, Carson Bachelder, who did a fantastic job of setting up our course design and keeping us aware of the tides and the requirements of working in the Thai environment. IJSBA staff included Peter DeSmet, Mike Rodgers, Robert Sand, Simon Rix, Mike Root, Melissa Ellison, Mara Tingle, Dianne Toll, Lisa Simpson, and our volunteer assistant who we fondly named Tattoo.
Hospitality is the specialty of the Thai people. All Asia Beach Game participants were lucky to have such gracious hosts and to be brought to such a beautiful environment. If you have not already read our short recap about the event, you can find it here: https://ijsba.com/2014/11/19/asian-beach-games-in-phuket-thailand/.
Kings Cup News
The 2014 Racing Season is closed out with one of the most popular events of the year: The King’s Cup. There were several containers full of watercraft leaving World Finals heading to Pattaya, Thailand for this exciting race. The event is, indeed, slated to be well attended as IJSBA has already received news that the host hotel, D Varee Jomtien Beach, has sold out of Superior rooms and has few remaining Deluxe rooms. We know that field for Pro Ski Open is going to be solid and the Thai’s will fiercely defend their Runabout and Sport titles. Competition should be the best ever. The organizers of the King’s Cup are reporting attendance of more than 35 Nations making it the most diversely attended one to date. IJSBA will report complete coverage on the 2014 King’s Cup. In the meantime, you can see schedules, news, and other information about the event by visiting: http://www.jetski-worldcup.com
Rule Suggestion Period and Congress Of The Rules
The annual period to suggest changes to the IJSBA Competition Rule Book has now started. Please see https://ijsba.com/2014/11/25/ijsba-rule-change-comment-and-suggestion-period-now-open-2/. We hope for the participation of every person interested in seeing change. We also remind everyone that World Finals 2015 brings the first Congress Of The Rules. The Congress Of The Rules is an assembly that will meet, at World Finals, on odd numbered years. The congress of the rules will have a seat for all participating IJSBA Affiliates and other parties to vote on the changes to the IJSBA Rule Book and select IJSBA policies for the following two years. Beginning in 2016, IJSBA Rule Books will be printed every other year and shall remain unchanged between meetings of the congress unless there are extenuating circumstances such as altering classes to include a new homologated model, safety requirements, or other similar matters. The first IJSBA Congress Of The Rules will take place Saturday, October 10, 2015 thirty minutes after the conclusion of the Under The Bridge Freestyle Competition.
In order to have the most streamlined and comprehensive communication for the Congress Of The Rules, IJSBA has reopened the committee process. IJSBA used to host committees for Tech and other items pertinent to racing operations. However, participation started decreasing in these committees right about the time social media started taking off. I guess it is more fun to share your opinions about racing rules and policies with your friends than it is to sit through tedious committee meetings and pass drafts of rule changes back and forth for discussion- go figure. Anyway, enough of you have written in that you would like to participate in committees if we will reopen them. So, guess what? We are doing exactly that. If you would like to participate in one of the committees, please send us a resume and a cover email explaining why you would be a valuable committee member. Several persons have already signed up and we welcome more so long as you are serious about your contributions and plan to be a regular and reliable participant. Please email your request to join a committee to firstname.lastname@example.org. The following committees are open now. More will be formed after the 2015 Rule Book changes are made:
- Executive Technical Committee
This committee accepts the drafts and suggestions from the Runabout, Ski, and Freestyle Technical committees. The main focus of this committee is to prepare final voting items for the Congress Of The Rules and the IJSBA Board Of Directors. This committee is comprised of IJSBA Board Members, affiliates, engineers, competitors, and other industry and sport leaders.
- Runabout Technical Committee
This committee has general discussion about the needs of the Runabout Classes and prepares the general concepts and rough drafts for the Executive Technical Committee. This committee is composed of affiliates, engineers, competitors, and other industry and sport leaders.
- Ski Technical Committee
This committee has general discussion about the needs of the Ski Classes and prepares the general concepts and rough drafts for the Executive Technical Committee. This committee is composed of affiliates, engineers, competitors, and other industry and sport leaders.
- Freestyle Technical Committee
This committee has general discussion about the needs of the Freestyle and Freeride components of IJSBA and prepares the general concepts and rough drafts for the Executive Technical Committee. This committee also participates in joint sessions with the Executive Technical Committee. This committee is largely composed of Freestyle competitors and engineers. Freeride organizers will also participate in this committee.
- Steering Committee
The Steering Committee shall focus on the future of the sport and changes in presentation of IJSBA itself. The steering committee shall explore the feasibility of implementing new ideas, new features, and new programs for IJSBA. The drafts and recommendations of this committee shall be presented to the Congress of The Rules. The Steering committee shall be comprised of OEM representatives, competitors, engineers, affiliates, and other organizers.
- Safety Committee
The Safety Committee shall focus on all aspects of safety in all IJSBA activities and policies. . The main focus of this committee is to research and report upon current safety issues or questions and to ensure ever improving standards at all IJSBA sanctioned activities. The Safety Committee prepares final voting items for the Congress Of The Rules and the IJSBA Board Of Directors. This committee is comprised of IJSBA Board Members, affiliates, engineers, competitors, and other industry and sport leaders as well as outside consultants and advisors.
- Non-Technical Rules Committee
The Non-Technical Rules Committee shall focus on all aspects of the IJSBA Rule Book that do not have to do with Technical Rules (i.e. Appeals, Scoring, Race Director Policies, Starting Penalties, etc.). The drafts and recommendations of this committee shall be presented to the Congress of The Rules. This committee is composed of affiliates, engineers, competitors, and other industry and sport leaders.
- Rider Committee
This committee shall serve as an official coordinated discussion and suggestion committee to try to bring consensus to the international perspectives of IJSBA’s world-wide racing public. This committee shall serve as the communication link between the racing public and all of the committees that prepare items for the Congress Of The Rules. In addition, this committee shall serve as the nominating mechanisms for other committees as well as seating the representatives at the Congress of The Rules and other voting opportunities in the IJSBA structure. The committee shall be comprised almost entirely of riders and at least two ex-officios.
IJSBA has created a section of the website to provide resources and a forum for the above listed committees. The next set of committees that will be announced will include: Hall Of Fame Committee, Appeals Committee, License and Ranking Committee, and Social Media Committee. We will bring you a report of the progress on the committee action in the next two weeks.
Rule Change Suggestions Received
The rules committees will have their work cut out for them as we have already received many comments and requests to consider rule changes, clarifications, and other updates to the IJSBA Rule Book. A significant amount of suggestions always follow every World Finals. Below are a list of suggested changes, some come from the public some are internal recommendations for change that have been discussed by the Technical Director, the Executive Director, and several affiliates. These are not a complete list nor is this a list of things that are certain to happen. The following list is just to let you know what has come down the line so far.
- Modify Fuel Pump Language for Runabout Limited
- Specify that the tensioner is part of the pulley system for Limited Runabout Class (188.8.131.52)
- Modify fuel return line language in Runabout Limited
- Specifically allow vacuum line to be added to intake manifold.
- Specifically allow supercharger shaft having an additional oil fitting (6.4.9 and 184.108.40.206)
- Create specifications for replacement aftermarket valves- design/dimension/weight in Runabout Stock Class
- Do not allow lithium ion batteries in stock unless OEM equipped
- Require boost regulators for supercharged/turbocharged equipped Ski in Ski Open and Ski GP
- Reduce boost pressure in Ski Limited for PWC equipped with superchargers/turbochargers
- Remove nearly all allowances for Runabout Stock Class(es)
- Make Ski Open for Normally Aspirated and Ski GP/Mod for Ski’s equipped with superchargers/turbochargers
- Create air restrictor plate requirements for Runabout Classes
- Abandon exact replica requirement for Ski Open top deck
- Increase displacement cap in Runabout Rec Lites to up to 1100cc based on a weight to displacement formula
- Add a displacement matrix to the Rule Book
- Add a reference chart of common parts and modifications legal in each class.
- Add clear penalties for log jump infractions and the exceptions, if any, to those penalties.
One of the biggest set of Rule Book changes being suggested is a redefinition of the parameters of an eligible Ski Class PWC. While several different plans have been drafted, the following represents a good and thorough cross section of what people are discussing:
Handle Pole Pivot Rule: Define that all Ski eligible PWC must have the handle pole pivot mounted in front of the engine compartment.
Engine location: Define that all Ski eligible PWC requires the engine compartment is located in front of the riding tray.
Hull/ Deck Appearance: (For Open Class) Styling does not have to reflect a current or past OEM. However the shape may not create a dangerous environment for the riders or competitors.
Hull/ Deck Length: Define that the length of any and all Ski eligible PWC (including the ride plate and pump nozzle) must not exceed 97" or 2.46m
Hull/ Deck Width: 30"(current rule stays same)
Pump Distance: Define that all Ski eligible PWC must not have the steering nozzle exceed 5" past the edge of the upper deck. (Again overall length must not exceed 97" or 2.46m)
Ride Plate: Define that all Ski eligible PWC must not have the ride plate must not exceed 5" past the edge of the upper deck.
Weight Limit: Keep the minim weight limit for the moment at 260lbs.
Floatation: Define that all Ski eligible PWC must have a floatation device (ex. foam, inflatable) installed in the front and rear of the watercraft and consume 15% of hull/ deck volume.
A major goal of revamping the Rule Book will be increasing predictability and reducing confusion. With each set of changes must come greater rigidity in enforcement. Over the last five years, the changes in Rule Book language has largely come a response to some very liberal pushing of “grey areas” or provisions that allow greater modifications than stated when combined with another provision in the book. Unfortunately, a fixed printed document cannot cover every single interpretation of a phrase or statement. The response thus far has been to add language to ensure the Rule Book was not misinterpreted. It now seems there is a push to scale this back in the other direction and strongly limit the language in the book. For this to be effective, this will require very rigid enforcement. This is well supported when we are off season and are writing emails, but, when we actually get to the races and competitors find that their repair jobs, quick fix parts replacements, and slight modifications are no longer compliant or implied by the rules in totality, well, this is when we have our problems. So, please take this as food for thought that it is impossible to enforce a very simple and basically worded rule book without being very strict and rigid in the enforcement. Likewise, it is impossible to cover every rule provision and possible interpretation or limit to the rules without having endless paragraphs and sections. Please consider this when making rule suggestions.
After the rule change period has closed, IJSBA will be engaging several Rules Workshops (suggested by Drake, the organizer of King’s Cup) to get real time updates, clarifications, and explanations of the changes in rules for 2015. These will happen at a couple of international events as well as through online conferences. We hope to start 2015 with everyone on the same page and regional and national Tech administrators feeling comfortable that the information they have is going to be uniformed and universal.
Since the closing of the 2014 Jettribe World Finals, many of you have asked for IJSBA to be aggressive in making some improvements to IJSBA, the World Finals system, and the overall appearance of the sport. As these suggestions have come in, we are setting up evaluations for each suggestions and, in most cases, an analysis of the best way to implement these suggestions. As we have received suggestions (thank you Chris MacClugage, Peter DeSmet, and others who have helped compile feedback) we do notice that many of the items are items that we have tried to implement before (in a couple of cases, people are suggesting things that we are currently doing) so we are trying to both make plans and write replies that really address where we are (or have been) in some of these suggestions. We ask that you keep in mind that there are costs and consequences to some of these suggestions. This will be a subject that comes up as we discuss changes coming and improvements we can make.
- Timeliness of the event. We had a couple of hiccups this year in time management. 90% of this revolved around Freestyle. We just, plain and simple, had too many delays in how we conducted Freestyle this year. Efforts to build up the scoring announcements in a way to promote anticipation of the winner just didn’t work. Most of you have reported that you just want to see Freestyle and then know the adjusted score when we announce the winners and that you don’t need the in between chatter. Noted. Other time delay issues are going to be managed better in 2015. If you are coming in 2015, just plan to be aggressive on getting to the start line when you are called. We will streamline the rest.
- IJSBA has been building new databases (thanks Ria) of which classes competitors have actively participated. This played out well in 2014 where we were able to guide competitors to classes that more accurately represented their history and resume. We will next require IJSBA Affiliates to submit their class lists and databases of who is competing and what skill level and class in which they are participating. We hope this will form clearer understandings of eligibility and will help IJSBA refine classes based on the needs of the international competition field.
- IJSBA will have new scoring software in place by the 2015 World Finals. We have been testing a new system. We sure aren’t looking forward to entering all the data from Aquascore, though. Just about all competitors over the last 20 years are entered into the current system and we suspect duplicating all of it will be a couple hundred hour project (sorry Ria).
- A couple of suggestions have come in reflecting entry fees and vendor booth pricing. IJSBA would like to reiterate that are prices for vendor booths have remained the same since 2005. We feel that being able to hold on to these rates for the last ten years has been a pretty good accomplishment. Aside from the prices not rising, we compared our vendor rates with other premier events in Lake Havasu City and find that we are not any higher. IJSBA sells vendor spaces in 10x10 (3x3 if you are using metric) increments. We have found prices to be, almost to the cent, $166.00 per vending day which is almost exactly what IJSBA charges per vendor day for a 10x10 ($166.66). In addition, IJSBA offers an admission free environment and has been furnishing electricity. Likewise, we pulled up entry forms from 2004 and compared them to now. In 2004, competitors were required to pay a mandatory $50 fee per competitor plus the entry fees of any classes in which the competitor registered. In addition, the event had a gate fee which required the competitors’ family and guests to pay admission fees to watch the competitor. In 2014, most entry fees have only risen by $15 and the mandatory fee per rider is $75.00. This reflects a cost increase of only $4.00 per year without accounting for the elimination of gate fees. IJSBA will continue to do everything we can to control costs and increase amenities for competitors but, we feel as we can be proud in reporting to you that we have kept fees low in an economic environment where costs have risen rapidly. We hope you will feel the same after reviewing this data.
- Pit Parking policies perhaps need a revamp. Normally, there aren’t too many issues with pit parking. This year, there were a few. We all understand that friends, family, and teammates want to pit next to each other. We also understand that there is a long standing principle, grounded in basic fairness, that those who wait in line should receive their choice of pit space based on availability left after the choices made by the people ahead in line. We have some people that come and pitch in with set up, and they have earned some early pit parking privileges. Some sponsors have pit privileges written into their contracts. We also have some VIP pitting opportunities offered by IJSBA (which we will not be expanding by the way). So, we want to maintain a fair and harmonious pit atmosphere, maintain the needs of the event, and to avoid needlessly preventing people from pitting close to their teammates. So, in keeping with these goals, we will be creating a divided system for pitting: competitors who register for World Finals early will be able to pool their entries together and receive some reserved pit space; we will set aside some pit spaces for the lottery system and; we will keep the bulk of the pit space open for first come first served. We will publish the list of policies as we get closer to World Finals.
- Live streaming of the event will be changed. This is going to be a tough one. Live streaming isn’t meant to be full blown coverage of the event, it is meant to be a view into the event were you can see a camera capture, in real time, while listening to the announcers’ commentary as it comes live. Adding an operator, to the live stream system, who types in the current leader, position changes, and finishing positions, in real time, may not be feasible. We promise some new features for 2015’s Live Stream as we are having a new live stream system (see below) integrated into the starting gate.
- Redesign of the awards ceremony has been requested. This is pretty easy to do. We have responded well to requests for change in the ceremony in past years- most particularly in moving the bar outside. We will add some features to the ceremony which should make for a better media presence and we are going to try to live stream this portion of the event as well.
- Pro weekend scheduling suggestions frequently request less classes offered on these two days. We are going to go back and model some different lineups, but some of these classes are positioned on the Pro weekend to avoid dead time in the schedule and to allow for rest and repair time between heats. IJSBA will look at the schedule and how it can possibly be changed.
- Some of you have asked to have log jumps be part of more Ski classes. To do this will require more Affiliates and Regional Promoters offering log jumps so that the first experience with them is not at World Finals. This will take cooperation if we are going to make it happen for 2015.
- IJSBA has received the usual dose of suggestions to cut classes. We cannot help but notice that we have yet to receive a suggestion that reads “please cut my class.” We are getting a noticeable amount of requests to remove the Vintage Ski and X2 classes from the World Finals lineup. We promise to heavily review possibilities for less classes, we cannot promise to cut any classes that have a strong following.
- We have a health amount of comments asking for some changes in the track design. We also have a healthy amount of comments telling us to keep the track design the way it is. Over the last three years, we have studied the consistency in reducing collisions and falls by repeating successful angles of the track. We are in the second year of the dual black buoy split. We have enough data with the angles and distances from turn points to now reposition portions of the track and create a new course path. We understand some of the requests that come in and we are for sure working on new ideas. However, in reading some of the suggestions, we would like the public to consider that we are limited by location and simple physics. We cannot have a small track and create opportunities for passing and have enough space to accommodate a full line on a dual gate- space just doesn’t allow for all of these factors to take place at once. Similarly, it is not possible to pull the back stretch closer to the shore without widening the course to the same degree of distance from the starting gate. In this same sentiment, we are having a difficult time designing a course that has both the log jumps and the starts in front of the grandstands. We have some concepts that address these suggestions and we will circulate them to event organizers throughout the year to see if how some of these ideas come into fruition.
- Competitors have requested IJSBA consider creating a Competitors Jury as a form of appeal from a Race Director’s call. This is an idea we have tried to implement before and found it difficult to compose a jury that didn’t have conflicts of interest but we will give this another try and present some options within the next couple of months.
- Transponders will be tested in 2015. We still have not found a transponder system that will reliably indicate which side of a buoy a PWC negotiated. We also have found unreliable readings when many PWC closely come to a buoy at one time. So, the most that can be gained from transponders is a list of lap times and tentative finishes. Transponders will only be part of selected classes in 2015.
- IJSBA always gets a lot of inquiries about different starting procedures at World Finals. This year is no exception. However, this time we have something very different we have been working on and will be prepared to launch at the 2015 World Finals. The diagram below has been submitted to a team the same team that is redesigning our live stream presentation. This starting gate will utilize four bands instead of just two. The placement of the bands will create a “neutral zone” of approximately 18 inches (45.72 cm). There will be four cameras mounted to the starting gate which will record the time of the start. The race director, in the announcing tower, shall have a view screen which will show if the nose of any PWC entered the neutral zone before the bands snap. This screen shot will be able to be preserved and even printed if necessary. The question remaining is whether this type of system is best utilized by continuing the red flag restart for jumped starters or if another penalty such as a docked lap or position is appropriate. We may even try a tiered system where bending the first band before it snaps is a docked position or lap and bending both bands will result in a red flag restart with a dead engine start penalty. This is a discussion to have over the course of the year. We look forward to receiving your comments on this new gate system we wish to implement.
We have received a lot of comments that many of you would like to see a face lift and an improvement for the looks of the World Finals. Last year, at this time, the bulk of comments were pleased with World Finals and were asking us not to change too much. We ran 99% of the same World Finals we did last year. It is perfectly ok to want to make new requests in a year. Now that we have the structure of the under the bridge show locked down, we can divert more planning efforts into the day program at the World Finals. However, taking the comments we have received into totality, we would like to issue some warnings about making too many changes to World Finals.
World Finals incurs very high production costs, well into the six figures. This is something you would except for an event that services 400+ individual competitors. Costs are difficult to control and the economy of scale limits this cost control abilities- it would not be much cheaper to run an event that had half the classes or ran in less days. As mentioned above, World Finals is operated off of the natural income the event generates. This is important in that the event is sustainable from year to year irrespective of what is happening in the general PWC marketplace or in the overall global economy. Sponsors are a benefit that allow us to increase the amenities that we would otherwise offer at World Finals- but, if the sponsor base ever depleted, IJSBA would still be able to deliver a world championship caliber event.
So, if there is a push to update the look and feel of World Finals, we will respond and get it done. As we go begin the journey into making several changes to the look of World Finals, and IJSBA itself, we want to throw a few caveats out there. First, some changes will appear quickly and we hope the public will notice the changes and they are well received. Other changes will be a slow build, done in increments, to test the progress on the way. As you evaluate and comment on our progress, please look at both short term and long term change to guide us. Third, we will avoid perusing gimmicks that do not provide actual benefits to the community. IJSBA has ended many of our partnership programs where our members were not receiving true benefits such as “discount packages” where the member would pay a higher rate than actually found elsewhere online. IJSBA is not going to get into the click bait or sales commission business and if a partner program starts to take this direction, IJSBA will not offer it to our membership base. Finally, we ask that you remain conscious that along with benefits, change also brings costs and consequences.
Examples of these costs and consequences become prominent in areas such as possible venue changes. The current World Finals venue is off the beaten path and has spectator parking somewhat detached from the competition and vending area. However, this venue offers on site power, paved parking, water hook ups, adjacent camping, quite a bit of real estate, and is facing a direction where the sun’s position has less of an impact on visibility than some other possible locations in Lake Havasu City. Other possible venue locations will require all competitors who need electricity in the pits to bring their own generators- an additional cost to competitors. Likewise, electricity will have to be brought in to the vendor area at an additional cost to vendors. Pitting in other venues may yield muddy and soft terrain if we experience rain. Moving the event to Rotary Park, if possible, may require the closing of Body Beach due to our perimeter requirements. None of these things mean that we close our minds and just ignore other options but we just want you to be aware of some of the things that are crossing the desk as we explore your requests.
The same scenario plays out in some of the other aesthetic changes that are coming. Investing in the look, feel, and visibility of World Finals will require funds and resources to be committed. Our funds and resources are, of course, finite and ultimately come from the body of the sport. We spent the last two years ensuring the under the bridge show got off the ground and was successful enough to become a permanent fixture. Whatever we do next will lock our resources on that new project or set of goals. We are not going to increase any fees in 2015 so we will be diverting all of our discretionary resources to this goal and we will have to pick and choose which options look like they will have the most return for the investment. As you see the pace things come to fruition, please drop us a note to let us know how we are on track. Fortunately, some of our upgrades have been in the works for some time and we will see the result of this planning play out in 2015 and 2016. We hope you will like what you see and that the prices we pay for change will be worth it.
This is the close of this long update. We will be having several meetings during the Kings Cup to see how we can streamline some of the changes we have discussed here. In the meantime, please send in your comments or questions to email@example.com. We also remind you, one more time, to participate in the rule change suggestion period. We will have more information to share in the December update and some other news bullitens that will be posted.