In less than a month, about 40 of the top P1 Aqua Cross (AquaX) racers will be speeding, bobbing and weaving their way through Nassau Harbour, from Friday, November 8 to Sunday, November 10, for a chance to be called AquaX World Champion. The official announcement was made at a press conference yesterday at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.
AquaX began in 2011 with the U.S. Series and it has grown tremendously since that time. The first world championship was held in 2017 in Key West, Florida, USA.
This year will mark the first of a two-year deal. According to the chief executive officer (CEO) of P1 AquaX, Azam Rangoonwala, they have been looking for a new home for the world championship event.
“We came here around this time last year. We have been searching for around a year for a perfect world championship event location. This is it. We saw this venue and we came to Atlantis and we said this is where we want to host our world championship event because it needed to be of a certain level in order to crown our world champion. We needed it to be adequate and this is adequate. This is even a higher level [than] we expected and working with Atlantis has been amazing,” Rangoonwala said.
Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Atlantis Ed Fields said that Atlantis is proud to be the host hotel for the event.
“We have been working on this for 10 months. It went from a possibility to a no to a possibility to a maybe, more so to where we are today which is really just gearing up and putting the logistics to get this thing on the road. We at Atlantis are extremely proud to be the host hotel and to be partnering with the Nassau Paradise Island Promotional Board and the Ministry of Tourism to bring this event here,” Fields said.
AquaX has two circuits – the American and European. The American circuit was launched in 2013 and takes place in states such as Florida and Indiana. On the European circuit, which was launched in 2015, races take place in countries such as Spain, France and Belgium, and also in the United Kingdom.
CEO of the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board Fred Lounsberry said that P1 AquaX could not have picked a better place to stage its event.
“I have looked at all of the venues on your website and this has got to definitely be the spot, so we welcome you. The destination is very excited to have you and we have the best airlift accessibility from Florida – I know you are very Florida-centric. You cannot pick a better place to make ease of visitors coming and hopefully they are coming to spend more than the three days,” Lounsberry said.
Director General at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation Joy Jibrilu echoed Lounsberry’s sentiments.
“The Ministry of Tourism is delighted to be collaborating with the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board and Atlantis to bring the P1 AquaX Jet Ski World Championship to The Bahamas,” Jibrilu said. “Without a shadow of a doubt, I think we have the best waters in the world and to showcase the skills of jet skis on water against a backdrop such as this is something that the world will immediately feel. I think we are doing a great job for jet ski racing but equally this is a phenomenal job for us,” she continued.
Brian Baldwin was the winner of the first edition. He is also the 2019 USA National Champion. He said he is excited that the event will be in The Bahamas.
“It is super exclusive to be here in The Bahamas racing. We have been on a super high this year, basically won everything. I want to continue that streak to come here and win. For it to be here in such an exclusive area is really mind-boggling. The sights and everything here is amazing,” Baldwin said.
The Denver, North Carolina native is ranked at the top of the Lucas Oil Top 10 World Rankings with 99,283 points. Behind him sits American Eric Francis with 97,077 points. In third place is another American, Chris MacClugage, with 91,401 points.
This is Baldwin’s first time in The Bahamas. He started participating in AquaX in 2015 but has been racing since 1999. He said he is looking to successfully defend his title.
To be a rider at this event, persons had to qualify over the past year. To qualify, the pro racers had to do so through the world rankings and have placed within the top 20 in each series. According to Rangoonwala, 32 riders have confirmed their participation.
Rangoonwala wants to make it a yearly event in The Bahamas, but for now it’s contracted for two years. He reflected on the start of the 2013 U.S. circuit when they started with seven riders, and have now grown to as much as 100 in one year.
“The growth of the series is because it is such an accessible type of racing. The whole concept of AquaX initially was to have a stocked jet ski or a stocked waverunner. You can go and buy one of these skis and go and race it within our circuit. We give you a level of training and we also do some safety requirements in terms of the gear you have to wear but really anyone can enter the circuit,” Rangoonwala said.
The professionals go up to 80 miles per hour and can hit that speed in four seconds, said Baldwin. This will be the first time that the American and European circuit riders meet this year. AquaX features both men and women riders, and this year, the world championship will climax a 14-event international AquaX season.
Riders will be competing in the Pro Enduro and Pro Sprint races.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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