Rumble on the River jet ski racing comes to Orange

Rumble on the River jet ski racing comes to Orange

The Sabine River in Orange has been a very busy body of water, from recent Bassmaster fishing tournaments to thundering tunnel boat racing. Now for the first time, the waterway will see a “Rumble on the River” as TxH20 Racing presents jet ski racing Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, at the Orange Boat Ramp (408 Pier Road).

“This is something new that everyone will enjoy,” said Brandy Judice, Orange CVB coordinator. “There will be no charge to attend this family-friendly event. Concessions and kids activities onsite will also be available.”

Upward of 75 racers from the southern United States including Texas, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Georgia will compete.

“This sport is closed course jet ski racing,” said Shaun Compton, president of TxH20 Racing. “It’s motocross on water. There are no jumps on the course, so it’s similar to a Watkins Glen course in NASCAR. These jet skis will be navigating around buoys on the Sabine River.”

Racing will be held from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday. The rolling start will come right where the dock sits at the boat ramp so the spectaculars will have a clear view of all the cool action. Plus the track is continuously changing due to how many skis are in the race, making it even more exciting to watch.

Three classes are scheduled to compete — Runabout, Sport and Standup.

“The Runabout are the big boys,” said Compton. “It’s more for the professionals. Those run upwards of 80-90 mph and are expensive. They cost around $16,000 and you can end up putting a lot of money into it. Upwards of $25,000.”

The Sport class will feature speeds of 50-60 mph, and the Standup class will allow beginners to race.

According to Compton, there’s something unique with TxH20 Racing — the lead rider in the race has the complete advantage to maneuver over calm water. But the organization has added a “joker buoy.” The lead has to come out of line and pass that particular buoy, which then allows other racers behind the racer to get clean water and make up time.

The Japanese company Kawasaki introduced the first jet ski in 1972. Several companies followed with different versions like Yamaha and Bombardier with the SeaDoo. Racing became popular in the ’90s and has since tailed off, but thanks to organizations like Pro Watercross and TxH20 Racing, enthusiasts are seeing more of an increase in popularity.

“It takes a lot of folks to make it successful,” said Compton. “We have a great lineup of sponsors including Abaco, Aqua Sport Performance, Hidden Trails Motorsports, Acadian Ambulance, Pro Watercraft Racing, HW Marine, Hydro-Turf, Jettribe Racing, Gene’s Powersports Country, Soloshot, and Jet Renu.”

Compton is a native of the East Texas town of Carthage. Once a professional motocross racer and fisherman, he renewed his competitive edge some three years ago when his son Kenny, now 13, wanted to jet ski.

In fact, both his children, including Hailey, 12, will compete against each other this weekend in the Sport class. Also scheduled to compete is female rider Ashley Haude, who earned a sixth place finish in the 2017 World Finals.

Spectators are encouraged to bring their own seating, and please note, no dogs or pets will be allowed at the City of Orange Boat Ramp. Coolers are welcome.

“It’s handlebar to handlebar racing at high speeds going into these turns,” added Compton. “A lot of strategy, too.”

Course marshals will also be placed on the water in case riders come off their skis.

For more information about the event, view orangetexas.org or call (409) 883-1011.

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