by Kate Gordon
New Zealand’s Sam Harvey is ready to chase down another world championship personal watercraft (PWC or jet-ski) racing title.
Sam Harvey in action on Lake Havasu in 2010 - IJSBA World Finals
Harvey, a marine retailer in Howick, Auckland, departs this week for the International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA) world finals in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA, which run from 1 to 9 October.
Riding a Sea-Doo® PWC, Harvey won the Pro Runabout Open title – a class for modified PWCs – in 2009, the first time a New Zealander had won a world title in PWC racing. It was also Harvey’s first win in the intensely competitive world final after competing at the prestigious IJSBA world finals every year for the past eleven years. Harvey’s success was particularly notable as it represented the first time a non-American entrant and also one not backed by one of the major PWC manufacturers had won this hotly-contested professional class.
After securing the New Zealand elite nationals title for the fourth time in April, Harvey is looking for a more consistent performance in the US than he was able to secure last year when a small mechanical failure caused him to pull out of the Pro Open class he won the year before. The Kiwi then had the opportunity to race for the ‘anything goes’ GP Runabout category title. Harvey delivered what looked to be a series of winning performances, but is listed in the official results as sixth – a point he still disputes with officials.
For the 2011 IJSBA world finals, Harvey is putting the disappointment of last year behind him and has focussed on his own intense fitness training and development of his Sea-Doo race-craft.
'Last year we finished our development of the Sea-Doo GTX-S3 hull a little too close to when we left for the world finals, so even though Sea-Doo has released a couple of new hull designs this year with huge potential for the modified Pro Open category, we decided to stick with last year’s race-ski as I felt there was huge potential. We’ve been working on the handling and performance, and have removed further weight from the hull,' says Harvey, who puts in many hours each week training for what will be the 30th anniversary IJSBA event.
Reliability is the key, Harvey says. 'The old saying, to finish first, first you must finish, is entirely true. This is what we achieved so well in 2009 when I won the Pro Open world title and that’s the strategy we’re aiming for this year.'
Having been out on the water training two or three times a week, going to the gym or doing kick boxing training twice a day, and keeping to a performance-oriented, alcohol-free diet for over a month, Harvey feels as prepared as he can be before departing New Zealand on 23 September.
'This year I am competing in the two classes for modified race-skis: GP Runabout and Pro Open. For each class, I need to qualify to get into the top 20 competitors which then go on to race the two moto races which comprise the finals for each category.
'As my first race isn’t until Friday 7 October, I have two weeks to acclimatise, continue training and testing our race-ski which is sent to the US courtesy of major sponsor DHL.'
Lake Havasu is on the boundary of California and Arizona about 300km south of Las Vegas and a purpose-built stadium is set up lake-side to host the massive IJSBA event. More than 45 professional and amateur classes are contested with Harvey expecting more than 50 competitors from around the world to line up for his class, the Pro Runabout Open.
Harvey says his biggest competitors are likely to be last year’s defending champion American Dustin Farthing, and ex-world champions American Craig Warner and Frenchmen Nicolas Ruis.
'Also racing Sea-Doo watercraft is Australian champion James Masterton and South African Jarred Moore, so the pressure is definitely on to win again.
'Without DHL, Sea-Doo, BRP, LC Engineering, Quakysense, Castrol, Impressions International, Sea-Doo Centre, Display Media, Maintenance Management, CAB Specialists and Woodbine Marine, it would not be possible to compete as a professional on the world stage, so I extend my warm thanks to all my sponsors for their support.'
Sea-Doo PWCs are made by recreational vehicle specialists Bombardier Recreational Products Inc, or BRP, and New Zealand manager Richard Shaw always looks forward to seeing Harvey in action this elite level on a Sea-Doo.
'We’ve been supporting Sam – a valued member of the team at Sea-Doo dealership Woodbine Marine in Auckland’s East Tamaki – for a number of years,' says Shaw. 'He always represents New Zealand, BRP and Sea-Doo as an absolute professional. From everyone here at BRP, we wish Sam and his team the very best of luck at the IJSBA world finals in Arizona in October.'