Embracing a new sport can be instantaneous like a love of chocolate or slow and steady like the appreciation of a fine wine. In this context, Blair Hull’s chocolate was off-roading while watercross was his wine.
Hull waded into personal watercraft (PWC) on vacations but stuck to a stable diet of dirt bikes, pit bikes, quads and side-by-sides. Last year, Hull’s doctor informed him he needed to “stop doing activities where I go up and come down due to a fractured L1, scoliosis and a few fused bones in my lower back,” he said. “I took some of my doctor’s advice and stopped most of those activities.”
Kindling a burning obsession
Hull decided to purchase an SXR that needed some work and built it up for the purpose of watercross racing. He travelled with his family to the first Western Canadian Watercross Association (WCWA) race of 2016. “I was not able to take my ski with me,” he said. “But thanks to some nice racers and peer pressure, I entered my first race. After that, I was hooked and it started my obsession with (the sport).”
It turns out Hull has a knack for watercross. In last year’s races he placed third overall in the beginner class and second overall in the novice stock class. He’s become involved with the WCWA as an administrator for their Facebook and Instagram pages.
Since diving into the sport, Hull has owned 10 different stand-ups. He has two in particular that remain his favourites. “When we get good winds I like to take the Superjet out on the lake,” he said. “When I’m racing, I have two skis—one is a Kawasaki SXR800 for the Lite Classand the other is a Kommander Industries K1R 1,100-cc open ski.”
One of Hull’s favourite PWCs is his Kawasaki SXR800. This photo was taken at Sugar Lake, B.C. — Photo courtesy Blair Hull
Best spot on the map
In his short time involved with watercraft, Hull has taken to a variety of lakes across Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C. and even down south to Lake Havasu, Arizona. It’s difficult for Hull to pinpoint the best place to ride. He recommends cruising B.C. lakes but ultimately chose Alberta’s Lake McGregor as a top spot. “It’s a really nice lake,” he said. “We set up a race course to practise and camp right by the lake. I find the best places to ride are the lakes you can enjoy with friends and family.”
Ride a little longer
Canada tends to be chilly much of the year. If you want to be involved with watercraft beyond summertime, you’ll have to get creative. “I purchased a dry suit so we could extend our ride season,” said Hull. “Makes for some cold days, but it’s definitely worth it.” Hull spends his winter rebuilding skis, getting into shape, and looking for sponsors for the upcoming season.
What not to do
Accidents are a possibility when learning a sport like watercross. Hull had a fortunate outcome from what could have been a deadly scenario. “You tend to fall when trying to figure out the limits of your ski and ability,” he said. “The one accident I had is a good reason to wear a helmet even when you’re out riding for fun. I had fallen off my Superjet. A friend of mine thought it would be funny to come by on his Yamaha Blaster and splash me. He ended up skipping across the water and ran right into my head. Thankfully I was wearing a helmet. I don’t go onto a lake unless I have a helmet on.”
Start your engines! Watercross racing’s popularity is on the rise. This photo was taken at Crane Lake, Alberta. — Photo courtesy Blair Hull
Looking into the crystal ball
Hull believes PWC racing will expand and attract more people in the coming years. “While I haven’t been in the sport for long, I see it growing in Canada,” he said. “Last year we had a huge jump in numbers for new racers. The races are a great weekend for the racer and the family.”
Name: Blair Hull
Rides: Kawasaki SXR800 and Kommander Industries K1R 1,100-cc open ski
Home: Airdrie, Alberta
Day job: Millwright, doing maintenance on a local pipeline