Cuban native Maikel Gonzalez of M iami couldn’t wait to make a big s plash on the waters of Lake Do ra at Wooton Park in Tavares over the weekend, site of the first race of the 2013 season of HydroDrag Jet Ski Races.
Theresa Campbell/Daily Commercial
“The water is great and it’s just awesome,” Gonzalez, 35, said Sunday. “It’s like getting to play with toys, race, and just have a lot of fun. The first time I rode a jet ski, I fell in love.”
He made the trip to Lake County with his team of racing friends, who brought along 10 jet ski watercrafts, including one clocked to go more than 110 mph.
The Tavares event marks the first of five races Gonzalez plans to compete in this summer, which will involve traveling across the country.
For the Tavares race, racers negotiated a course similar to a grand prix track and competed in events of drag racing, slalom, flatwater freestyle and “Speed Alley.” Among the spectators were the racers’ family members and friends and a Spanish translator for racers who needed language translation.
“Everything is going good; people are saying that they’re having a lot of fun,” said event announcer Jason “The Destroyer” Stoyer, of Clearwater, who also is known as a top U.S. professional freestyler.
Stoyer was planning to entertain the crowd with his freestyle skills before the event ended, and the freestyler noted that he always looks forward to his time in Tavares.
“This lake is beautiful here. Every time that we come back, it gets nicer and nicer,” Stoyer said, praising the city for its work in enhancing Wooton Park.
“This is about the fourth year that I have been coming here, so I’ve watched all of the growth of the park, all of the restaurants and downtown improvements,” he said.
The race brought out local residents, including Wayne Neace, who first watched the racers on Saturday. Impressed by their talent, he returned on Sunday to see more action and brought along his dog, Shady, for the ride.
“It surprised me seeing this freestyle guy come up here doing 180 and 360 turns, and so I had to get off my golf cart and go down and get a closer look,” Neace said.
Ahmed Ali, 24, of Tampa, understands the excitement of the sport for fans and racers. “It pumps the adrenaline,” he said.
Theresa Campbell | Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org