Our View: World Finals a valuable annual fixture in Havasu

September 30, 2018

There’s a familiar and literal buzz in the air as the International Jet Sports Boat Association’s World Finals kicks off this weekend on the waters near the Island.

Signs hang on businesses welcoming the personal watercraft racers, much as they have each year during the annual event’s long run in the city.

Except for a short period in the 1990s when the race moved to San Diego, the personal watercraft races are synonymous with Lake Havasu. They’re apparently good for the city, too. A tally some years back by the Convention and Visitors Bureau put the total value at more than $5 million.

This year, as for the past few, the highlight of the event for many spectators might be the freestyle exhibition in the Bridgewater Channel next Saturday evening. It usually attracts a big crowd.

It’s possible, though, the full effect of the races themselves may be lost on residents who don’t venture to the race course near Crazy Horse on the Island. With some 35 annual appearances in Lake Havasu City, the event makes it easy to attend but doesn’t do much of anything to publicize what’s going on to residents.

The thing about fixtures is that they’re easy to forget about. The buzz of watercraft engines, if the wind is right, may be the biggest reminder the finals are going on at all. One big annual brag on the event is the many nations represented. This year, the count is 28, but that aspect apparently won’t be on display. The calendar doesn’t list a “parade of nations”, though there’s been confusion and miscommunication about the parade in the past.

The organizational challenges, though, don’t transfer to the races themselves, which are well run and the obvious focus. It is, after all, the obvious focus, and these racers bring plenty of skill and emotion to an event that showcases the world’s best.

There are plenty of ways to engage and be entertained at the event. Vendors abound. The vibe is energetic.

It’s worth watching, even if IJSBA itself doesn’t actively promote the event to the tens of thousands of city residents who have a chance of attending.

As with anything approaching 40 years old, there’s much to appreciate in the longevity and also some things that need tightening. Marketing and publicity to engage the host community fall into the latter category.

The event itself is strong and a great chance to show off the city and the lake. It should be a great week of racing ahead.

— Today’s News-Herald

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