RATTLESNAKE LAKE, AB – Some of Canada’s top-ranked jet ski racers are born and bred in the Medicine Hat area, and now they’re looking to hand over the torch to a new crop of competitors.
Over the weekend, Rattlesnake Lake in the County of 40 Mile hosted the region’s annual stop on the Western Canadian Watercross Association’s tour which featured dozens of competitors.
Some of those hit the water in a brand new class, meant to introduce newcomers to the sport.
Robin Kurpjuweit was one of first racers in the beginner runabout class, taking the checkered flag twice on just his second day on a jet ski.
“We practised up one day on Tuesday, came out Saturday and I’ve been learning a lot,” said Kurpjuweit. “It’s been a steep curve but it’s been great.”
Event organizer and world champion racer Cory Rarick said they wanted to provide more options for newcomers to try out the sport without having to face professionals.
“When you get pros and amateurs together, amateurs get scared because the pros are just so fast and their equipment is fast,” said Rarick. “So, we decided to break it up this year and make a separate amateur class.”
Wind on Sunday made for slightly choppy conditions on Rattlesnake Lake, which presented new challenges for those like Kurpjuweit over the weekend.
“The fact that you’ve got somebody right behind you or you’re trying to catch somebody and then you got all that rough chop in the middle of the lake, that affects your ability to gun it,” he said. “You got to get past that mental abort button that say this isn’t safe, but it’s great.”
This was the fourth year of races at Rattlesnake Lake, with some of the top racers on the WCWA circuit hailing from southern Alberta.
Rarick said they hope to keep that trend going by introducing new initiatives like the beginner runabout class in the coming years.
“This is why we do this honestly,” he said. “We need new blood, I’ve been doing this for such a long time... to have the new blood come up just makes the sport grow and that’s really why we’re here.”
Rarick and the rest of the local professional competitors will continue the 2019 WCWA season next month with races on July 20 and 21 in Saskatoon.
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