Hitting 100 MPH on a PWC

A PWC drag racer sets a new world speed record.

Brakes vs Off-Throttle Steering

Several years back, WaterTop Unlimited (now Look Marketing) head Tim McKercher brought side-by-side drag racing to the PWC market, reasoning it would be an innovative new twist on a sport typically dominated by closed-course, motocross-style competition. While not a runaway hit, it proved successful, enticing everyone from the Average Joe to hardcore speed freaks to give it a try. For the former group, drag racing was just a fun way to battle your buddy without any real fear of collisions or injury; for the latter, a chance to go head-to-head on heavily modified craft. It’s the event’s Speed Alley, however, that brought with it the true promise of crazy speed. Solo runs against the radar gun were an amazing test of both man and machine, and encouraged a whole new crew of speed freaks to truly push the limits of today’s personal watercraft.

The elusive 100-mph mark fell early on, when Puerto Rico’s Julio Rivera first recorded triple digits, chalking up a 100.5 mph run at the RIVA Racing Spring Nationals in 2009. The most recent record was established the weekend of November 3-4, when Joseph Mastrapa, from Palmetto Bay, Florida, posted a 101.7 mph peak speed.



Trust me, that’s fast…crazy fast. Several years ago I did a story with RIVA where I sped across the water at 72 mph. Truth be told, the speed actually felt pretty comfortable. But adding 30 more miles per hour? No thanks. Make one wrong move, tip your weight slightly in the wrong direction, and you’d be flung like a rag doll. At those speeds, water isn’t soft and cushy…it’s hard and unforgiving. Guys like Rivera and Mastrapa have nerves of steel, as well as some pretty impressive engine and hull-building skills between them and their teams.

Strangely, I believe Guinness still recognizes the world record on a PWC as 87.5 mph, a mark set by Outback Steakhouse co-franchisee Forrest Smith (who, incidentally, used RIVA to help him modify a Yamaha GP1200R for the challenge). Why hasn’t the record book recognized guys like Rivera and Mastrapa? Word is there’s a lot of paperwork and money involved, something that no one has bothered to mess with in the last few years.



That may soon change. Current HydroDrag promoter Mike Young hopes to find a sponsor that would bring Guinness representatives to the event next November. If he succeeds, the renowned record book will certainly have a new name amongst its pages.

Here’s a look at Mastrapa’s record-breaking run…