Jet Around Cayman 2013 felt more like a practice than a major competition.
Low crowd and rider turnout, mostly stemming from inclement weather, led to an endurance race that lacked its usual sizzle on Saturday. Only six riders and about 150 people came out to Surfside Beach Restaurant & Bar on Seven Mile Beach for the event’s 17th year.
Race founder and chief organiser Kenny Rankin spoke about what led to the dip in Jet Around Cayman’s form.
“In spite of the weather and the changes it produced, safety was our priority,” Mr. Rankin said. “We used our discretion and the GPS system that has worked for us over the years helped us again with the riders. This time, we had to alter the course with the weather being bad for riders to go to the first pit stop in North Side and back.
“Over the years, half the crafts tend to break down, so people should know that race organisation for a field of 10 Jet Skis is the same for less riders. You have to have marshals in the appropriate amount to match the riders. “The top time was below an hour and 12 minutes and that compared good to the regular first place time for Jet Around. The race turned out to happen on a beautiful day on Seven Mile Beach. I thank Surfside owner Kris Bergstrom for hosting us. It’s good to know local businesses on Seven Mile Beach allow local events to happen. Again, I thank him for having us and I take my hat off to him.”
Organisers nearly postponed the annual event due to extremely rough sea conditions and ended up delaying the race start to use a shortened course. Interestingly, Jet Around Cayman this year was postponed from its usual date in mid-June, the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend, due to poor weather.
Gary “GJ” Whittaker of team Nuttin 2 Lose would repeat as champion for a second consecutive year, posting a time of 1:09.53 and taking home $1,000. Corey Miller of team Naut Wukin would end up second for 2013 in 1:11.25 and earned $500.
Mr. Whittaker, 22, said his biggest complaint with the race was the lack of prize money.
“It was alright, I did pretty well,” McLean said. “I only wish there was more riders there, but I understand people dropped out for one thing or the other. There also needed to be more sponsored prize money. We need more sponsors to get behind this event and the sport in general.
“To get more chances at events like this, sponsors are needed for Jet Ski racing. In sports, it’s not just about football, swimming and track and field.”
The timing of this year’s Jet Around Cayman was marketed as unique, taking place on the same weekend as another water sports spectacle, the Million Dollar Run.
This year’s boat race is slated to launch at Surfside on Constitution Day on Monday, 1 July, from 12.30pm.
Mr. Rankin said the decision to run both races in close proximity to each other was calculated.
“There was a commitment to have both events on the same weekend. It saves our costs.
It was an incredible amount of work for just a few to run.
The whole weekend is for Jet Ski racing and water sports in general.”