Ski dazzle

Mike Sciacca

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 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 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