The setting was perfect for K.C. Heidler in his first attempt at
competing for the world championship on the closed course race
The Laguna Beach resident recently went up against competitors
representing 30 nations in the 2002 Veteran’s Runabout 1200 Super
Modified Personal Watercraft racing class at the International Jet
Sports Boating Assn’s. 21st annual world finals near the London
Bridge at Lake Havasu.
Heidler, performing on familiar waters, ended up knocking off all
comers -- nearly 1,500 competitors -- to win his first world title.
The 35-year-old was the first athlete to complete 20 laps, earning
the championship and turning back top contenders Pichet Settura of
Thailand and Stu Goulding of England.
He rode to the victory on his powerful jet ski, a super modified
Yamaha GP1200R, which crew chief John “PeeWee” Price had running from
0 to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds.
The jet ski reached speeds of up to 70 mph.
“It was an awesome day and a great ride,” said Heidler, who
received his team’s world championship trophy on Tuesday. “It was my
first attempt at a closed-course world championship event, and I was
really happy that we were able to win this in front of family and
The “we” Heidler is referring to is the Personal Water Craft
Racing Team.com. In addition to Price, who is responsible for the
ski’s mechanical work, the team consists of assistant crew chief,
Dave Price -- the brother of PeeWee -- and lead technician Royce
“I was physically and mentally prepared for this race and I credit
this world championship victory to the hard work of my crew and
support from my sponsors,” Heidler said.
The finals course had racers maneuver around 15 buoys with right
and left turns, plus two straight-aways, which racers take at
Heidler has skied these waters several times before: for the past
25 years the Heidler family has had a vacation home on Lake Havasu.
“It was great to be competing at Lake Havasu and have my family
out there rooting me on,” Heidler said. His girlfriend, Elizabeth
Gaffney, was also there to give support.
“It gets nerve-racking for her at times, and no matter how
prepared I may be, nerves do kind of get to you right before the
start of a race,” he said. “You get an adrenaline rush, the engines
get really loud, and smoke begins to fill the air. You can hit speeds
of 60 to 70 mph in three to five seconds. It’s a rush right away.”
Heidler began his longtime hobby or riding jet skis at age 12. The
world championship marks a major accomplishment in his career, he
He competes annually in two racing circuits: endurance racing,
which consists of long-distance events such as the Long Beach to
Catalina and back race; and closed-circuit racing, a “motocross on
water” competition consisting of a multi-level racing format and up
to 20 riders maneuvering around a half-mile course marked with buoys.
The team practices out of Dana Point Harbor, running north down
the coast until reaching Main St. Beach in Laguna Beach, before
returning to the launch site.
Heidler said that he has invested more than $70,000 into his
super-modified Yamaha GP1200R.
“My crew did an incredible job in preparing for this race,” he
added. “We had the ski ready to perform and I felt great out on the
The road to the world championship for PWC Racing Team.com began
with a Western Region I competition. From there, the team competed in
August at the U.S. national championships in Nashville, Tenn., where
it earned a second place overall finish and qualified for the world
* MIKE SCIACCA covers sports for the Laguna Beach Coastline
Pilot. He can be reached at 494-4321 or by e-mail at