RPís first-ever jet ski pro rider
By Arman Armero
BILLIE Joseph BJ Ang, one of a select few who excel in
the difficult but exciting sport of jet ski racing, looks back to 2006
with fondness and a tinge of pride.
After all, the year that has just passed gave BJ a chance to assert
himself as the countrys first-ever professional ski rider when
he joined the pro division of the 2006 World Jet Ski Championship in
Lake Havasu, Arizona last Decemberand finished 11th out of 20
finalists on his very first try
It was by no means a simple feat, since the pro division of the Lake
Havasu event is considered as the most elite group in jet ski racing.
Think National Basketball Association of pro basketball, or the World
Pool of 9-Ball, where only the cream of the crop gather and compete.
I was really thankful that I got the chance to join the pro
division. It was really overwhelming. At first, I felt nervous because
there was a big crowd, but I forced myself to relax and just run my
race, said the 22-year-old BJ, a BS Management graduate from San
Aboard his Sea-Doo boat, BJ focused on the race and got off to a flying
start as he took ninth position in the first race of the finals, but
his usually trusty jet ski developed engine trouble, forcing him to
fall back into 10th at the end of the race.
The same thing happened in the second race, where he even got far
as eighth place, but his jet ski sputtered anew and he ended up 11th,
his final position overall. A rider from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates
eventually topped the race.
BJ felt so frustrated after the race because he knew he could have
done better, but took consolation from the fact that he indeed did well
as a rookie in the pro division, even better than some veterans in the
race. Later, people who saw him race congratulated him and acknowledged
I felt so frustrated after the race kasi alam ko na kaya ko
pang lampasan yung nagawa ko kungdi lang dahil sa problema ko
sa jet ski. Pero noong huli, I realized that I should be thankful because
I had a safe race and I wasnt hurt, BJ said.
Despite the respectable finish, BJ vows to race again in the same
division of the race late this year, and hopefully, finish even better.
At least, I learned something from that race. This year, babalikan
ko yan, kasi kahit na anong mangyari, this will be my final year
as an expert rider. Sa tingin ko, kaya naman talaga yung
pro, BJ said.
To the water born
As far back as he can remember, BJ loves to be in the water. Summers
were spent in beaches with dad Willie, mom Elsie and younger siblings
Bryan and Charlene. When BJ was 10, the family goes to Subic to rent
jet skis and ride the boats around the crystal-clear waters inside the
former US base.
Little did BJ know that the leisure rides in the rented skis in Subic
would prove to be a harbinger of his soon-to-be sport that will satisfy
his need for speed.
It was several years later sometime in 1997, when his father sent
him in an errand to buy a spare parts from Networx that BJ learned for
the first time that jet ski racing is not merely a leisure sport, but
one that some people take seriously.
That errand introduced BJ to Networx owner Dong Arcilla, who, in turn,
introduced him to the world of jet ski racing.
At that time, talagang hindi ko pa alam na may karera pala sa
jet ski. I didnt even know kung ano ibig sabihin nung stock
racing. Akala ko kasi yung stock, sa bodega lang yun,
In time, BJ slowly learned the intricacies of the sport, while his
dad Willie, a former drag-racer, also got into a business partnership
Practice makes perfect
BJs first brush with jet ski racing was as a keen observer.
He watched the races at Subic and in no time at all, he started practicing
with the entire Ang family in townever mind that he was all alone
at sea perfecting his craft while his dad, mom and two siblings were
enjoying swimming at the beach.
Soon he was joining races, and finally won his first trophyas
a third-placer in the 760cc back in 1999.
A year later, BJ posted a clean sweep of all the stock races in his
category in the local front, while also in the same year, he got his
first taste of international competitions in the Kings Cup in
Thailand. He placed eighth.
In Thailand, he experienced first-hand all kinds of dirty tricks his
opponents resort to in the race, something that he never experienced
in local races.
Marami talagang magugulang kumarera sa international races.
Dito didikitan ka lang, doon babanggain ka talaga, kaya you have to
adjust your riding style, said BJ.
From 2002 to 2006, BJs skills as a jet ski driver grew by leaps
and bounds. Last year, he was named Rider of the Year for the expert
1200 and 800 category, installing him as one of the countrys top
five ski riders.
In 2005, he raced as a novice in the World Jet Ski Championship in
Lake Havasu, and experienced for the first time what its like
to race against the best jet ski riders in the world.
After another eighth-place finish in Thailand, he was back in Lake
Havasu with idol and friend Paul del Rosario late last year, and although
his boat wasnt still in top form, he managed to place fifth in
the expert class, making him eligible to run in the pro division.
Gusto ko talagang sumali sa pro. Sabi ko, susubukan ko, wala
naman sigurong mawawala. I just prayed hard na sana maging safe yung
karera, said BJ.
The result convinced BJ that Filipino ski riders have what it takes
to be world-class riders, although there is always a lack of support
Sa tingin ko, kaya nating mga Pinoy na mag-excel sa jet ski.
Kasi skills-wise, di tayo pahuhuli sa ibang riders. Kulang lang
talaga tayo ng suporta. Kasi doon, pera-pera talaga. Kailangan, may
pera kang pambayad sa mekaniko, sa mga parts at sa iba pang kailangan
mo. Kung wala, pati yun pressure na rin sa iyo, said BJ,
who nevertheless counts Networx Jet Sports, Pacific Armoring & Glass
Corp., Hat Products USA and Lyn Vick Products USA as major supporters
for his race.
A deeply religious man, BJ says he always prays for a safe race, and
will always be thankful every time he wins a race.
As much as possible, I go to church every Sunday and I pray
before every race. I pray for a safe race, not only for me, but for
everybody na rin. But if I win, bonus na yun. But of course, you
have to work for it. Kailangan, buo ang loob mo. Pagdating talaga sa
world championship, ibang karera na yan. Kailangan mo na ng tapang.
At sa tingin ko, kung sa tapang lang, hindi pahuhuli ang mga Pinoy riders,
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