IJSBA event ends in 2019

December 7, 2018

After 15 years of being the longest personal watercraft endurance race in the world, the Hot Products Mark Hahn Havasu 300 will take to the waters of Crazyhorse Campground for the last time on Feb. 23, 2019.

Other than the International Jet Sports Boating Association World Finals, the Mark Hahn 300 — an IJSBA sanctioned 300 mile PWC race conducted over 30 laps on a 10-mile course around Lake Havasu — is perhaps the biggest PWC event hosted by Lake Havasu City.

However, with the rising costs of attending the event for participants and production costs, it was agreed upon by event producers Mike Follmer of Follmer Specialties and Jim Russell of DSM events that 2019 would be the final year of the historic event which currently has 45 spots open and is $400 per to team to register.

“It’s strictly financial,” Russell said about why the event will end. “It’s hard to put on an event like this that has a core of competitors internationally. It’s very expensive for competitors and about 25 percent of our competitors come from other countries. This event has great bragging rights around the world.”

The Mark Hahn 300 made its debut in Havasu in 2004 in remembrance of Hahn who was a big fan of a previous PWC endurance race that went away shortly after he passed away. Follmer, who was close with Hahn, was asked to bring a similar race back to the masses and after he found a production partner the race found a home in Havasu.

“I used to race with Mark and his son and this 300-mile race, that was put on by a different promotor at the time, was his favorite event,” Follmer said. “Although he never had success in it, he always had two, three or four boats in it. When he passed away, the race went kind of dormant. So a lot of people were asking me to find a way to bring this race back.”

For the first two years, Follmer — who won the first ever Mark Hahn 300 — teamed up with Tim Gewecke of Havasu’s Bullet Racing to promote the event. It was after Gewecke started his own event that Follmer teamed up with Russell and the two have been promoting the Mark Hahn 300 ever since.

“It was something that I wanted to bring back in Mark’s honor so I changed the name to his name,” Follmer said. “Now everyone affiliates this event with Mark and it’s been that way since we brought it back 15 years ago.”

While it will be sad for the PWC community to see this event go, it will also be sad for the city of Havasu. Russell called Havasu the “mecca for PWC competition worldwide” and to see the event go will leave a big gap on the calendar for PWC enthusiasts.

The Mark Hahn 300 has seen upwards of 50 teams travel to Havasu to compete over eight different ski classes. With a quarter of competitors making the trek from out of the country, a lot of cash is spent to compete and that includes here in Havasu.

Christophe Girello, the owner of Go Fast US Jet Ski Racing on West Acoma Boulevard, winner of the 2015 Mark Hahn 300 in the roundabout stock class and sponsor of the race, said out-of-country competitors spend around $30,000 on anything ranging from equipment tune-ups to renting a house or car just to compete in the race.

“I’ve been supporting a lot of European riders who use my shop to build a race ski since the race started,” Girello said. “It’s going to be missed by the community, city, sport and everything.”

Havasu has seen events come and go. While the event that has brought a lot to the city in many aspects will be missed, the Mark Hahn 300 has had a good run and Hahn would have been proud to see his legacy kept alive in something that he dedicated his life to.

“It’s an emotional thing for me and I know what it’s meant to Mark’s family,” Follmer said. “He would’ve never imagined that this event would have got as big as it has and carried so much interest from around the world. It means a lot to me that I know that he would be proud of what I’ve accomplished in his honor and I’ve had a lot of help along the way.”

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