JJ rolls in Arizona

As he hits preparation mode to defend his Jet Around Cayman overall crown, 2008 winner Jordan ‘JJ’ McLean has added a prestigious title, which he believes will stand him in good stead when he climbs on board his jet ski racer in June for Cayman’s premier event.

The 20-year-old senior accounting major at the University of South Florida won the 4-Stroke Stock Class at the Mark Hahn 300-mile endurance race at the end of February on Lake Havasu in Arizona, in partnership with Rachel MacClugage.

It’s the world’s longest jet ski race run held for 30 laps over a 10-mile circuit, and this year’s event was in scorching 40C degree temperatures, 30-35 mph winds and waves 4-5 feet.

A total of 54 riders from France, Slovakia, all over US and Cayman competed. The event is sanctioned by the American Powerboat Association.

‘This was my first race in the US,’ McLean said. ‘I was invited by Chris and Rachel MacClugage of Macc-Racing.

‘Chris is a multi-time time world and national champion who has done some work on my ski and has given me tips and advice along the way.’

McLean was partnered by Rachel, the wife of his mentor and the duo dominated their class, hitting the headlines early and completing the course a full four laps ahead of their nearest rivals. The two alternated rides every four laps. Their finish time was 6 hours 7 minutes and 53 seconds. They won the 4 stroke stock class and came ninth overall out of 54

‘The way I see it, this was invaluable experience because now I feel I have a leg up on my opponents in terms of endurance and handling adverse weather conditions since Jet Around Cayman is run over a 52-mile course.’

In addition to the trophies he was awarded in Arizona, he also got the thrill of rubbing shoulders with some of the greats of the sport, like Chris MacClugage, Dustin Farthing, Nicholas Rius, Craig Warner and Shawn Alladio, the Ironwoman.

Additionally, there is the added satisfaction of knowing he might have opened the door for other Cayman riders.

‘They are definitely open and interested in having more of the guys from Cayman compete,’ McLean said. ‘That’s a very exciting thing to look forward to for the local guys and I hope to see it happen.’

For many ‘Friday 13th‘ can be a disturbing date, however McLean has only pleasant memories of his return to Cayman on that date following his triumph on the US circuit.

‘I was really delighted at the enthusiastic response from the local racing fraternity. Members and riders of the Wes-Tec team, along with riders from HPR, Action Racing and Nuttin’ To Lose turned up at the airport to greet me. They carried banners and in general seemed to feel that my accomplishments were a little bit their own.

‘Family and friends came out too and carried banners and presented me with a plaque.

‘I would like to add special thanks to Macc Racing for giving me this opportunity. It’s a dream come true. Thanks also to my family and friends for their support.

‘Thanks especially to my parents, who have sponsored me from the beginning of my racing career.’

As sure as June comes around those feelings of goodwill will be replaced by the adrenaline pump that comes with competition.

Nonetheless McLean’s opponents must realise that their task, already challenging, might have become a whole lot more daunting. Only time will tell.