Click Here to visit my slide show for this event.
My trip actually started 3 days before I left, starting with a commute to Riverside, CA. I picked up a cylinder and crank case for my friend and pro rider, Taylor Curtis for the motor he needed to build before he took his new Rickter FS-1 across the US, with 8 other ski’s including my own. The following morning, I drove out to Oceanside to ride what I thought was my finally finished ski to get a little ride time on it. This way I could test it to see if anything else went wrong, and they couldn’t have gone worse. Due to a loose cooling hose, water began filling my ski on the way to the riding spot. While on the beach a small tide surge doused the engine compartment, thus pouring water down the motor. To make things worse, after another rider brought me a tool to remove the spark plugs, my battery fell on its face attempting to turn the motor over. My friend Chris Rosner rode back 2 miles to the harbor to get my jumper cables out of my trailer, and back! On the beach my friend Jeremy pointed out a problem with my motor. Somehow the bed plate of my motor had come loose and was wiggling around which is not good at all. An hour later I was towed back into the harbor and drove back home with Jeremy following me to prepare for the next task in our preparation for Daytona.
Back at my house, we cleaned up the ski’s and loaded both of them onto my double trailer behind my Honda. Next task was a five and a half hour drive to Pro rider Taylor Curtis’s home in Morro Bay, CA. Jeremy paid my gas to drive to and from his house to deliver our ski’s, for me to fix my engine problems, and to deliver Taylor’s motor parts so he could rebuild his engine for the next weekend. Taylor had just finished fabricating a second story triple place rack for his huge flat bed trailer to haul a total of 9 stand up jet ski’s across the coast.
5 out of 9 total skis that traveled on this trailer.
I arrived at Taylor’s late Saturday night, he his couch set up for me to crash for the few hours before the long day ahead. The following morning Taylor was up at 4am to reassemble his motor, I slept in until about 7am to start with my job. Between 7am and 5pm I pulled out my motor, re tightened the loose bed plate bolts, replaced a broken motor mount, replaced my new but malfunctioning start stop switch, then had everything bolted back together, and ready to transport to Florida.
Inside one of Wamilton's four shop bays
After a 4 Hour drive. I arrived back home at 11pm from Morro Bay, and began to pack. I finished packing and was in bed around 2:30 am to catch a little sleep for my 8am flight. Monica and my mom drove me to the airport that morning and everything from there was smooth sailing. I made a connection in Dallas, Texas then from there flew straight into the hometown of Wamilton’s Customs, West Palm Beach, Florida. Five minutes after I received my bag, my local Florida rider and friend, DJ Grahm aka ”Munkie”, was there to pick me to the home he shares with his fiancé Natalie. I stayed at their house the entire week, as well as the both of them shuttling me around from place to place, I am so thankful to have met such a great couple as them. Without their hospitality and generosity my trip would not have been as much fun and relaxing. Thank you so much DJ and Natalie!
Ready to ride on Wamilton's private lake
Tuesday morning DJ and I head out to Wamilon’s shop which is 15 minutes from DJ’s house. There, I got to see all of the wamiltons crew including Peter, Rod, Marsha, Leg Drag Kevin, and Wamilton himself. It was great to see everyone again, they are so much like a family, that the time I spent there was very enjoyable. DJ and I did odd jobs such as cleaning out the trailer, making sure the tents were ready to go to Daytona, and a few other odds and ends that were necessary for the event. Wednesday DJ and I dialed in a few odds and ends and were able to drop a few of Wamiltons ski’s in his private lake 10 yards away from the shop door. I rode Wamiltons 2008 Platinum edition superjet and his new 2009 Diamond edition Carbon fiber hull superjet, and Wamiltons personal superjet he built for Brazilian Freerider Fabien Ballayer. to ride in Daytona. I was very impressed with the handling and power of these ski’s on flat water. I was able to flat water roll almost all of them, yet overall, had a lot of fun exercising my flat water abilities on these skis.
Thursday afternoon Taylor showed up at the shop after a five hour delay in Texas, when one of his trailer axels blew. I began to work on my ski again cleaning up a few loose ends I left at Taylors. I had everything buttoned up and ready to start, when the ski wouldn’t start. Five frustrating hours of diagnosis, a $90 Wal-Mart battery, used starter relay, and used starter, the ski was running. From there my ski was loaded back onto Taylor’s trailer and was off to Daytona. DJ and I went back to his house to pack a few things before we left for Daytona that night. I don’t remember when we arrived in Daytona but when we did It was freezing cold outside, yet many familiar faces were outside hanging out and greeting the incoming friends and riders. After an hour DJ, Natalie, and I crashed in Peter and Kevin’s room for the night, because we didn’t have our room till the following morning.
Friday morning the weather was very chilly for Florida, and the surf was decent, yet the wind was blowing really hard which was the main reason for the swell. By the time I got out there it was slightly warmer, yet it was extremely difficult to ride. The wind was blowing so hard that the waves were bigger, but the water was super choppy along with the wind blowing salt water mist into your eyes every turn. It was hard to balance so I cut my day of riding short to save energy for a better day. Friday night DJ, Natalie and I met with DJ’s close friend Brohnson and his friends at their hotel room. From there we all went out to a local restaurant called Barnacles. That night was a lot of fun, the whole crew was hilarious, and a ton of fun to be around.
Saturday morning the conditions were a lot better. It was still pretty chilly but the wind had backed down a little to provide some cleaner surf. I was able to make it out there reasonably early and rode almost all day, only coming in to put more gas into my ski. In the middle of the day, one of the go go girls from the club Coliseum, was walking around passing out wristbands for free early admission whic h included free drinks. There was also a hummer limo that drove up and down the beach a few times which was going to be the free shuttle from our hotel to the club. At the end of the day, my ski was back on the grass ledge of the resort with most of the other skis. After I got cleaned up DJ, Natalie and I headed back to Brohnson’s hotel room where we had a pizza party before we all headed out to the club. The free ride in the limo was just as hilarious and enjoyable as the last night we were all together. The limo dropped us off at the club, we turned out to be the first to arrive, yet the rest of the night was a unbelievable so many familiar faces, good times, and being admitted to the second story VIP lounge by some people who knew DJ’s friends.
Sunday morning started out wrong, my life jacket, lanyard and ride shorts all went missing! Rod at Wamiltons saved me by letting me grab a new jet pilot vest off their jet pilot selection. Besides the small mishap, the weather was sunny, the wind was calm, and the surf was ok. I had completely drained my two five gallon jugs of fuel the day before so I had to get more. Wamilton had also invited Pro Brazilian rider Fabien Ballayer to the event to ride one of his ski’s. He also needed gas so off to the gas station we went. From the short conversation I had with him he is a very cool guy, and I look forward to riding with him down the road in Brazil. With gas in my ski, and a McMuffin in my belly, I hit the surf around 10am, and again only came in for gas and one long break to watch the pro rider’s jam session. I had an incredible time riding my ski, which handled so well. I am really happy with all the hard work, and the motor Paul Lehr helped me create. Throughout the day I had the time of my life shredding with Pro riders, Jeremy Parr, Jason Stoyer, Ross Champion, Mike Serlin, Fabien Ballayer, Pancake Pete, Pierre Maixent, and a TON of other fellow riders I know and met online on X-h2o.com. For hours I rode close to shore working on my surf riding in front of many photographers, one of them being a good friend, and professional photographer Ronny Mac.
That guy is one hell of a cool dude, I enjoy hanging out with him around the water and even more around the night life, he is hilarious! I was entered into the annual Cherry Buster Backflip Competition, which news to me, I was one of 3 who signed up or at least have never back flipped before. I declined the challenge mostly due to witnessing Ross champion blow apart 3 of his motor mounts slamming into the shallow bottom, and the fact that the average wave wasn’t bigger than 3-4ft. I was way more excited to surf my ski that was finally running, then send it home broken and battered for a chance of pride. There was a girl who went for it anyways yet she landed flat upside down breaking all four motor mounts and crippling her engine. Props to her for going for it though!
At the end of the day I found myself riding around in circles. The surf went flat, the sun was going down, and my energy was sucking the fumes off the McMuffin sandwich I had for breakfast hours ago. I rode out past the surf break, turned off my ski, turned around to sit in my tray and just took it all in. There I was at the end of a fast but awesome adventure, sitting on my sponsorship superjet looking left and right down the endless blue of the Florida coast sitting in the Atlantic Ocean a week prior to riding the Pacific Ocean back home. I am really thankful to all my sponsors, family, and friends who support my passion and travels. This was truly an amazing trip that I am so thankful I was able to get my ski out there for.
That night after my ski was flushed out and back on Taylor’s trailer. I left with Rod, Peter, Kevin, and Wamilton in his truck back to West Palm Beach. We stopped at Outback Steakhouse for an extremely delicious baby back rib dinner which Wamilton generously paid for.
Wamilton, the shop crew, friends, and guest appearance by Eric Malone
As for the rest of the trip, I stayed back in West Palm Beach with DJ, and Natalie helping Wamilton unload the trailer and clean up after the event during the day. I had the fun job of flushing Wamilton’s skis out in the lake. At the end of the day before my flight, I got a group picture of the Wamilton crew before I left. Unfortunately due to a pro rider who came to talk business, Peter was held up by Wamilton trying to settle business. To make this long story short, I missed my flight and $200 later I was rescheduled for a flight home the following morning. My thanks go out once again to DJ, and Natalie for everything they did for me this week including picking me back up from the airport, letting me stay another night, and waking up early to make sure I got to the airport on time. Thank you both again so much!
That was it, my first Daytona Freeride. Aside from random emergency expenses, the trip was one I will remember for years to come. This was an incredible experience and my thanks goes out to Wamiltons Customs for all my parts and accommodations during the event, Pacific Motorsports for all the parts, time, and assistance, Performance Fiberglass for helping me finish the body work on my ski, and my newest sponsor, Pacseal Hydraulics for the very much appreciated financial support, which really made the entire trip not only possible comfortable.
Until the next adventure,