Legends Series: The Glory Days of Jetski Racing
By Krisdy Riddle
The year is 1992. Beautiful women in neon bikinis flaunt on stage for the swimsuit competition, ESPN cameras are rolling in every direction on the beach, and over 30,000 spectators fill the crowd at the Nautical Inn at Lake Havasu, Arizona. Imagining the radiant colored jet skis and matching wetsuits overflowing the starting line brings us right back to the glory days of jetski racing.
The early 90’s brought a tremendous spotlight to the sport with nationwide ESPN coverage and event sponsorship from Budweiser and Jet Pilot. A golden-age for jetski racing, the sport was quickly evolving and broadcasting some of the most remarkable riders in the history of the sport who were competing head-to-head at the IJSBA World Finals. These legends have transcended generations, remaining some of the greatest vintage jetski riders of all time.
Easily the greatest stand up jet ski racer to ever live, Jeff “The Jammer” Jacobs is one of the most phenomenal riders in the sport. Jacobs outstanding riding capabilities turned heads and can be described as “poetry on water,” making every move look effortless. His undeniable talent gained attention and sponsorship from Performance Jet Ski (PJS). Achieving his first World Title in 1985, it was just the beginning of many victories to come. The Jammer charged to being #1, attaining multiple National Titles and 10 World Championships, dominating superstock, slalom, and pro modified.
Alaska boy turned California leg-dragging legend; Victor Sheldon was hooked on the sport after witnessing the 1986 World Finals. After his first year of racing, he was voted Rookie of the Year and won his first National Title by the age of 22. He earned a sponsorship deal from Team Butch and Jet Pilot, who developed his nickname “The Slasher”. Despite the intense nickname that was rooted from his aggressive riding style, the eight-time World Champion has quite an easy-going and modest persona.
You can spot his ginormous beaming smile, animated charm, and fin on his back from a mile away. A crowd-favorite, Chris “Flying Fish” Fischetti took home his first World Title in 1991 defeating the defending champion, Jeff Jacobs. Fish’s eccentricity and liveliness radiate through his personality and riding performance; from racing skills to freestyle shows, the guy knows how to wow a crowd. Fish teamed up with Mariner Racing, and earned a sponsored paint job by Serrano Custom Designs.
Starting an early career at the age of 17, ‘Haulin’ Harry Goatcher gained quick support from L&S Engineering, R&R Jet Tech, and Westcoast Performance. Suffering a serious neck injury from a pro freestyle competition, Harry remained eager to achieve a World Title and claimed a podium finish at the 1991 World Finals. His outspoken humor and friendliness can still be recognized at the races today.
Legends of Jetski Racing
The essence of our sport is ever-growing, yet the early days of jet ski racing bring an inspiring nostalgia which has molded the community into what it is today. Without further ado, we are delighted to introduce our new Legends Series line recognizing some of the greatest names in the history of jet ski racing.
Image credits: VJS Originals
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