Earlier this month more than fifty riders headed to Florida’s Gulf Coast for the final round of the five-venue SBT P1 AquaX National Championship, where riders battled not only for national titles in three race classes but also to qualify for the Bahamas World Championship in November. At the end of two days of racing in St. Peterburg, the 2022 champions were crowned and here’s your chance to get to know more about them.
Jimmy Wilson – Pro Enduro class
The Broward Motorsports rider from North Carolina arrived in St. Pete at the top of the standings, with his team-mate Dustin Farthing from Georgia and reigning champion Erminio Iantosca in the chasing pack, and he performed consistently to top the overall podium and take the title. Jimmy started racing in Novice Ski Stock in 2005 at the age of 16 but didn’t make his AquaX Pro Enduro until Daytona Beach in 2021. “As far as Runabouts go, this is really my first significant achievement,” he says. “I won a moto in Michigan City last year and made the overall podium a couple of times. I’m a two-time amateur world champion in the ski division, and I also have seven national titles in the ski division between Pro-Am Ski Stock and the Pro-Am Ski GP classes plus four top three finishes in in the Pro Ski at the IJSBA World Finals.”
He came into the 2022 season wanting to win some races and compete for the championship, but he knew how difficult it would be taking on the likes of Baldwin, Iantosca, Daly, Snyder and Farthing (father and son). “It’s hard to describe how I feel now,” comments Jimmy. I’m not supposed to be the guy who won the series. I am a Pro Ski racer not a Pro Runabout rider.”
Jimmy admits that he doesn’t get to practice much. He lives about 30-minutes away from a lake in North Carolina and may ride his Standup once a week. He has an open invitation from Sam and Ashley Nehme at Broward Motorsports to stay with them in South Florida to train, but it’s an eleven-hour journey from his home so he doesn’t get there as often as he would like. He loves the fact that his 2022 Yamaha FX was built and prepared by Broward Motorsports and Judge Motorsports running a Cabrera Motorsports tune. He describes having these three build his factory Yamaha FX as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity.’
The 33-year-old attributes his success this season to his mindset. “I’ve been through some pretty crazy things since 2018 and I have a new outlook on life,” he explains. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity to race with my family and friends. I am having fun doing what I love and making a ton of memories along the way. At Broward Motorsports we are a very laid back, family-oriented group. Sam and everyone involved are as dedicated as I am and they make it easy to go do what I love.”
Jimmy travels a lot – he has already been to ten races this year – and his young son goes with him. “My little man comes everywhere with me – it’s been that way since the day he was born,” he says. He is about to head to Italy to compete in the UIM Aquabike World Championship in Olbia in northeastern Sardinia. This will be the first time he has raced abroad and thanks to Borgstrom Racing he will be lining up with the best riders in Pro Ski GP. Next month he’ll be racing in the IJSBA World Finals in Lake Havasu City and he will then focus on the P1 AquaX Bahamas World Championship in early November. “I’m so freaking excited to go there to race and see where the US riders fit in amongst the best from other countries,” he comments. As regards 2023, Jimmy is talking to Sam Nehme about what the year might look like but admits that everyone is living in the now and focusing on getting the skis ready for Havasu and the Bahamas.
Jay Finlinson – 300 AM Enduro class
Encouraged by his father Bryan, the 17-year-old from Northern Indiana started racing when he was only 12 years old. He is currently a senior in high school and enjoys other sports including baseball, football, basketball and golf.
In his first season of P1 AquaX racing last year, Jay competed in the 200 AM class in the USA National Championship on a ski Brian Baldwin loaned to him and raced in Michigan City and St. Pete. He won an IJSBA world title in 2019 in the AM 1100 Stock class when only 14, finished third in the Pro-Am Ski Stock class at the IJSBA World Finals last year. He has also won many national championships in ProWaterCross.
Jay admits that he didn’t know how he would do when he first stepped on the Brian Baldwin-built supercharged Yamaha. Jay Berry from Ignite Racing Fuel and Brian himself gave him support. His first race was in Michigan City and he won the first moto. He figured he wouldn’t be in the championship race because he missed the first two rounds due to high school golf matches, but when he found out that he was only eight points behind the leader he knew he could win the series.
He lives on Lake Wawasee, a popular summer vacation area for residents from Indianapolis and Chicago, and the family has a little boat launch. “Normally in the summer we try to ride about four times a week but recently I haven’t practiced quite as much, “ he says. “I have a gym membership and normally do a 5-day split workout, but sometimes I work on cardio along with training on my standup jet skis. My father plays a big role in my racing life – without him I wouldn’t be doing any racing and traveling around the country. Because of him I have a great life as a teenager.”
Jay had never driven a supercharged ski until Michigan City and he describes it as ‘fast, really fast.’ His father went to Brian Baldwin’s house so that they could build the GP 1800. He very much values the sponsorship he receives: “My main sponsors are Jay Berry at Ignite Racing Fuel, who are based here in Indiana and produce a high performance ethanol fuel, Chris Storie of Sur-Trac Trailers who was one of my baseball coaches and, of course, Brian Baldwin. Derek Powell, who used to race with my Dad, is constantly tuning, repairing and practicing with us.” He attributes his success this season to the hard work he puts into the sport practicing on the standup skis, keeping in shape at the gym and playing other sports.
He has traveled a lot over the last few years with racing: “Obviously the big one is driving to Lake Havasu. Most of the time I ride with my Dad in the truck and trailer, but sometimes I fly so that I don’t miss as much school. It’s awesome visiting so many states and the AquaX World Championship in the Bahamas is going to be really cool. I never thought I would ever get to race there.” Looking ahead to next year, Jay says that he will most likely move up to the Pro 300 class if he can secure more sponsorship support.
Sam Nehme – 200 AM Enduro class
Still only 17 years old, he started racing almost ten years ago because his father has raced all his life. He is in his senior year of high school and plans to work at the family dealership, Broward Motorsports, when he graduates as well as studying for a Business degree.
This is Sam’s first full season of AquaX racing because you need to be aged 16 to compete in the AM 200 class, but he did race the Ski class in AquaX previously. He has won a number of titles in both the Ski and Sport classes and this year he dominated the 200 AM class, finishing more than fifty points ahead of Kevin Sullivan in second place. “At the start of the season my goal was to win the championship and I was able to achieve that in my first year competing in the class,” says Sam. “I practice every weekend at Markham Park in Broward County and occasionally train out in the ocean. I also go to the gym every day to work out various body parts that help my racing endurance.”
Sam’s parents are very supportive and go to all his races. His father (also named Sam) is President of Broward Motorsports, a multi-location motorsports dealership in Florida, and he is involved in building the race skis and with testing and tuning them to make sure they are 100% ready for race day. “My current ski is a Yamaha GP 1800 and I really like how it handles and how comfortable it is,” comments Sam. “Yamaha has done a great job with this ski.” His main sponsors are Broward Motorsports, Yamaha, Judge Motorsports, Cabrera Motorsports, Shoei, Jettrim, Jetpilot, Worx Racing and Wamiltons Customs.
When asked why he thinks he’s been so successful this season, Sam replies: “I’ve been in good shape and I’m riding a very fast and reliable ski that hasn’t let me down. It takes the combination of a great team in your pits, a fast and reliable ski and also conditioning your body to perform at maximum capacity for each 30-minute moto.” Like all the P1 AquaX riders, Sam travels from April through to September to compete in the National Championship and then, having qualified for the AquaX Bahamas World Championship, he will be heading to Nassau in early November to race in the 300 AM class. “I’m very excited to be competing in that class for the first time and it will be a great stepping stone for me to jump into the Pro class next season,” comments Sam.
The 2022 P1 AquaX Bahamas World Championship returns to Nassau from November 4-6. The iconic Atlantis Paradise Island resort will serve as the host destination for the three-day event, which will feature a total of forty endurance riders, both professional and amateur, from more than a dozen countries.