P1 AquaX Racing

P1 AquaX personal watercraftendurance racing is coming to Daytona Beach this month. 

Written By John McEarchern

Photo by David Lando

As the August sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean, unfamiliar floating megaliths are silhouetted against the glare of daybreak. Only when the sun continues its rise higher into the morning sky are the colors of the giant vinyl buoys revealed. Crews are working steadily in the sand and waves behind the Hard Rock Hotel in Daytona Beach to move even more of the floating balloon- like structures into the crashing waves before Saturday’s excitement can begin. 

On August 19 and 20, P1 AquaX will bring back the white-knuckle excitement of personal watercraft endurance racing to the waves of Daytona Beach for its 10th season. Over 40 professional and amateur racers will return to the birthplace of speed, both on and off the water, for 2 days of multiple races vying for points toward the world championship in November. As one of five events in a shortened season, this event has high stakes and usually even higher surf, guaranteeing an action-packed weekend. 

The surf and sand of “The World’s Most Famous Beach” are actually where P1 AquaX began its humble existence before rising to the height of PWC enduro racing. Inspired by decades of events and organizations striving for racing legitimacy but falling short, P1 brought a level of professionalism the industry was yet to see. That same standard still holds true today under the direction of Championship Manager Michelle Petro, who was there on day one 10 years ago. The first event had seven racers show up to participate.

“AquaX is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year,” says Michelle, “and the series has grown to be a recognized personal watercraft series by attracting national brands such as Monster Energy and Yamaha Powersports as series sponsors.” 

Fans attending the event for the first time can expect to be sucked into the high-speed drama after only a couple of laps into the first 30-minute moto. While operating watercraft from Yamaha, SeaDoo and Kawasaki, racers battle for the fastest line on a constantly shifting course that covers both crashing waves in the shore break and rolling waves out beyond them. Courses stretch to nearly two miles, and participants earn points for completing as many laps as they can over a 30-minute timeframe. Unlike other motorsports, AquaX racers must traverse an unpredictable and ever-changing racing surface. While the course doesn’t change shape between heats, the water they’re racing on is never the same, and the conditions here in Daytona Beach have become a thing of legend for good reason. 

Traditionally, the event was held in April, but organizers have shifted to a summer date to ensure adequate accommodations for the event, participants and fans. The spring event was subject to more violent changes in conditions, but the summer version still has plenty of big wave jumps and shallow water risks for an outside run at smoother water. Riders take big chances for big advantages when timing and position play out perfectly amongst the surf. It’s not always rewarded though. Racers come off their watercraft at unbelievable speed with the slightest miscalculation. Bruises, stitches and the rare broken bone are often the price paid for a slip up when running in excess of 70mph in some instances.

This race isn’t just for the spectators on the beach though. The racers all have fond and specific memories of this particular venue and race site. Some amazing and some of them not so great. Whether it’s the beach or the host hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, there’s something to look forward to for everyone. For amateur 300 class rider Valnetina Lezcano it’s the entire vibe of all those elements coming together in one place for one awesome weekend of racing.

“Daytona is such a meaningful place for racing in general,” Valentina says. “I love staying at the Hard Rock because they make us racers feel like celebrities from the moment we get there to the moment we leave. All in all, I’m ready for Daytona!” 

For folks interested in seeing what P1 AquaX is all about up close and personal from a beachside vantage point, a beach pass for the day will get you close enough to see what the fuss is all about. Admission is free, and spectators can watch from the shore or view from the deck at the Hard Rock Hotel. Shade and a seat are recommended. 

P1 AquaX Race

August 19 & 20

For more information on the event and remaining events of the series, visit p1aquax.com or follow the series on your favorite social media platform.