Jetski Racing: How to get the best start
By Krisdy Riddle
Revved motors scream on the starting line, whiffs of two-stroke smoke surround the air, and every racer’s eyes are focused on the band. The holeshot is one of the most vital parts of jetski racing and can mean the difference between winning and losing. Attaining the holeshot gives you a much greater advantage for clean water and creating your own line. Without others in front of you, you are taking on less water and don’t need to worry about cavitation. But it doesn’t just take speed, it takes agility, courage, and understanding how to unleash your ski’s full potential.
Here are five tips on how to get the best start in your next jetski race.
#1. Rev with the pump completely out of the water
Two-time World Champion Larry Rippenkroeger explains how the fastest he ever got his Jetco Mod to go was in Southern California after flushing out the system.
“I’m keeping the pump out of the water as I’m cranking it over… finally I’m revving this thing to the moon. I drop the ski in the water and it takes off faster than it’s ever gone for about 100 feet… I realized there was no water going through the exhaust, and this thing was a rocket until the water got back into the system,” Larry explains to VJS Ride By Day Wrench By Night’s podcast.
Allowing the ski to clear out the water box and getting the motor to rev, jumps the RPMs high enough to make power.
#2. Balance is the key to jetski racing
Your body’s position in the tray distributes your weight and directs where the ski will launch. Some riders make the mistake of rushing to stand in the tray as early as possible, causing the nose to run high and creating more drag. On the other hand, understanding how to flatten the ski by distributing more weight to the front of the tray will allow your pump to gain more traction in the water. Traction wins the holeshot in jetski racing.
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#3. Bottom end
A ski with better bottom end tends to have a snappier reaction from the throttle, which is tremendously helpful on the starting line. Having enough bottom end will get you off of the line quicker. Of course, top end gives you speed but bottom end gets you speed quicker.
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#4. Having the right prop
You are going to want to install the right prop that works best for your motor setup. This may be a trial and error process, but it is important to get into the desired RPM range. A prop too big may never help your ski reach the higher RPM, which will never allow your ski to reach maximum power.
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#5. Eyes on the band release point
The band snap start may seem a bit outdated but it is still the technique used at the start of the jet ski races. Instead of allowing 100% of your focus on the band itself, make sure you are keeping your eyes on where the band is being released. Being on the outside of the starting line (closer to the release point) can be an advantage, but does not always equate to a better start. Find out what technique works best for you and practice.
In jetski racing the rider who makes it to the buoy first has a tremendous advantage over the competition and chances of being on the podium are increased. Remember, traction wins the holeshot and although you cannot win a race on the start, you can certainly lose it.
For an in depth discussion on race starts and winning the holeshot check out our interview with 2020 World Finals Vintage Class Champion Wyland Reden.