May 15, 2007 Here's an extreme sport that's been developing quietly behind our backs for 30 years now. Snowmobile fanatics around the world are lightly modifying their high-powered vehicles for frenzied "Watercross" races on lakes in the summertime. The massive machines buck, jump and wheelie their way to ferocious 60mph top speeds, and are as physical to ride and turn as a motocross bike. Game on!
First things first, you've got to see this video to believe it.
Clearly the sort of sport that evolved from bored snowmobile nuts trying to work out how to get through a long hot summer, Watercross requires only a few small mods to your snowmobile, according to Team KMA's "Getting Started in Watercross" guide:
- Silicone seal the gaps in the bellypan, bulkhead and tunnel. - Remove your oil injection tank and switch to pre-mix - If you're keen, lengthen and stiffen your front shocks - Toss the seat, you'll be standing anyway
Of course there's plenty of other mods the pro racers make, but that's all you'll need to get started.
Pro racers? Running snowmobiles on water? Well yes, look no further than the International Watercross Association (of America). Yes, there's professional Watercross racing on through the summer now, in several classes including oval and drag racing. And big snowmobile manufacturers like Ski-doo and Yamaha are kicking in sponsorship dollars to help the sport along.
Interestingly, the front skis aren't really used for steering; they're generally lifted out of the water by the huge power of the scoop belt drive. Instead the racers steer their snowmobiles using bodyweight and a technique similar to waterskiing.
We like the sound of the Icelandic variant as well - where you're not allowed to modify your snowmobile, and the winner is the last guy to sink. What a great spectator sport that would be!
It's always fun to hear about the innovative ways that lunatics all over the world find to punish various machinery in pursuit of a rush - and even better when a crazy idea like Watercross takes the step into being a pro sport we can all enjoy. Nice one, guys!