Racing hits snag, then forges ahead
May 10, 2004
Filed under Features
One small piece of the overall industry puzzle that did not look good this past year, at least early in the season, was the ongoing turmoil surrounding the International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA).
Just after the turn of the year, and amidst a sea of rumors that predicted its demise, the IJSBA reported that it would instead undergo a reorganization. While racers and promoters waited to see what the outcome of the reorganization would be, racing appeared to head into a tailspin, with promoters unsure of where to turn and race enthusiasts left to wonder if 2004 would be a wash. In the end, the ultimate outcome was that the organization retained its role as a worldwide sanctioning body, but stopped acting as its own United States affiliate.
After fielding proposals from both the established American Power Boat Association as well as the upstart United States Watercross Racing Association, the IJSBA elected to allow both groups to sanction race activity in the United States for the remainder of 2004, possibly choosing one organization to continue around the time of the World Finals. Promoters quickly allied themselves with one organization or the other, and soon literally dozens of races were put on promoter’s schedules across the country.
It’s a new formula that most hope will be a success. “The IJSBA is probably in a better position to be successful than it has been in years,” says Kawasaki Product Manager Steve Fischer. Those who have followed PWC racing know KMC USA continued to spend the big dollars necessary to field a race team while competing companies stayed out of the surf, evidently deterred by what could be viewed as minimal returns.
Though the lack of a “pro” tour has left racers like Kawasaki’s Chris MacClugage heading to Europe to compete, many industry observers predict that professional racing will be back for 2005. Until then, diehard fans of the high-profile elite will have to wait until the IJSBA World Finals, again scheduled for October in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
“With good leadership in place and a broader, more inclusive approach to meeting the many challenges that will arise, Kawasaki has high confidence in the future of the organization,” Fischer said. PSB