In this series sponsored by ProWatercraftRacing.com, MotorActionMedia interviews talented and passionate athletes on their love for the sport and how ProWatercraftRacing.com handling components help them charge after their goals.
Derrick Helm is young, up and coming racer who recently decided to take on the challenge of racing in the Pro Ski GP class with some of the fastest riders in the world. MotorActionMedia.com interviewed Derrick on his deeply-rooted passion for Jet Ski racing, and how Pro Watercraft Racing.com handling components help his Hydrospace cooperate with his aggressive riding style.
Derrick, could you tell me a little bit about your history in Jet Ski racing? How did you get involved?
It started back when I was a little boy, my parents had two 550’s, and enjoyed water sports, then later on my uncle Kenny Reeves, also known as the “Moon Man” started to race, and eventually raced pro back in the hay day of the sport, thus ever since I was a little kid I have always traveled around to watch him, and had the burning fire and passion knowing one day the torch will be passed on to fulfill the family legacy. My greatest accomplishments so far have been my 2nd place finish in Amateur Ski Open at the 2014 IJSBA World Finals. I still have yet to get a world tittle and now that I am racing pro its gonna be one heck of a ride to get there.
Jet Skiing is a tough sport, I’m sure you have had some ups and downs. What keeps you coming back, despite whatever circumstances you may be going through? What keeps you passionate?
Jet sking racing has two key elements that I thrive off of, the physically demanding side, and the mentally demanding side. Knowing I always have room to improve in both elements keeps me passionate to craft the art of racing skis and dictating it towards my hard-charging style. Not to mention I apply these two elements off the track as well, and apply it in everyday life.
Could you tell me a little about your race skis?
I run Hydrospace s4’s in both Pro Ski Stock and Pro Ski GP, I have all my skis equipped with Pro Watercraft Racing.com front sponsons, and Pro Watercraft Racing.com ride plates. and on my stock boat I use Pro Watercraft Racing.com rear sponsons to help it rail on a corner for sweeping turns to prevent dropping RPM’s, which you can’t do to be at the top of the stock class.
How would you compare your ride before using the Pro Watercraft Racing components to now (with them)? Were their any handling quirks your ski had before you change your set up?
Before I started to use Pro Watercraft Racing.com handing components, I had issues finding the correct ride plate setup to help the back end of the ski from feeling super loose and from sliding out in corners. Now that I have the ride plate setup from Pro Watercraft Racing.com, it has helped my confidence going into corners or getting close to other riders knowing that I won’t slide out with the possibility of hurting someone or myself. Chris Hagest worked with me last year to help the handling of my ski and we ended up taking home a second place in Expert Ski Limited at the IJSBA World Finals. The Pro Watercraft Racing.com handling components are the highest quality on the market, and virtually indestructible, knowing I have a solid set up to suit my riding allows me to push the limits. If you ride aggressively and don’t want your ski to be holding you back then Pro Watercraft Racing.com is the missing puzzle piece, whether you are hopping out of corners or the back end feels loose then thePro Watercraft Racing.com handling component set up is a must!
I heard you crushed it in Pro Stock in Sparks and in Pro Ski GP in St. George on the Pro Watercross National Tour, could you tell me about that?
[Laughs] it was fun battling with some of my idols! The first moto in Sparks Dustin Motzouris and I were battling it out for 3rd, and eventually mid way I got by him but he made it very difficult due to his pro-caliber riding. Moto 2 was probably the most fun for me, the wind picked up and the water became choppy! However we had some technical difficulties not allowing me to start when everyone took off, and I had to wait for everyone to go through the splits and across the front stretch before I could take off. Eventually we got the boat to go and took off 3/4 of a lap down, eventually i caught up to everyone and passed my way up to 3rd. Moto 3 was all about Macc taking the holeshot and holding me off to conclude my weekend with a 2nd place. It was lots of fun! In St. George we had some issues getting our open skis to where they need to be, having a boat that is only going 56mph and not much practice in the open class,I am more than happy with my 6th place finish this weekend, my goal for this year is to progress in the GP class. With out the support from Randy at Weber power, Pro Watercraft Racing.com, Peak motor sports, jetskiwebsites.com, and my family and loved ones, this would not be possible! Can’t wait to work on getting the skis more competitive and get back at it, there is a lot of talent out there and the challenge makes it all worth it to compete!
What are your goals for the rest of the season? How do you plan on achieving them?
I am planning on doing the rest of the Pro Watercross tour now that I have time off from school, and really looking forward to the last race in Naples, Florida. As of the moment I don’t have any plans for Havasu, but we have been talking about the possibility of racing the Kings Cup this year in Thailand!
How important do you think it is for an athlete to have passion? How do you think it affects their career?
For any athlete if they lack passion they will simply won’t sacrifice what it takes to be the best, especially in the sport of Jet Ski racing, you have to put a lot of standard living procedures to the side whether its spending time working on skis or time spent away from your family and loved ones. Conditioning the body to push through a 15 minute moto with ease takes years of conditioning through cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and countless hours of beating yourself up on the water in every condition possible. I truly believe that one who is a passionate person will make the best out of their life giving the circumstances their life brings weather its athletics, intelligence, or faith the best of the best all display passion.
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Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Randy at Weber Power for providing me with motor parts and rebuild jobs done needed to keep our 4 strokes in good condition. Rick Cantola at Peak Motorsports for providing me with Horsepower needed for the open class and tuning the skis. Chris Hagest at Pro Watercraft Racing.com for the best handling components to make riding a ski much easier, and working on my hulls. All of the Region 3 riders in the Spokane area who have pushed me, there are too many of you to name off but you know who you are. Last but not least my beloved family and girlfriend who accept what I do, and embrace it, because without them i would not be in the position where i am today, I am blessed to live the life I live, and am enjoying every second of it!
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Photos submitted by Derrick Helm.