Student races in international jet sports competition

Emma Austin

Boyd Footrakul, a senior from Thailand, said he loves anything with speed — a passion that carried him to race in last year’s International Jet Sports Boating Association World Finals.

“I started riding when I was 5 years old,” Footrakul said.

According to Footrakul, his uncle Suphot Kasikam has a big name in the racing and water sport industry and led his nephew to develop a particular interest in racing Jet Skis.

Kasikam owns a private lake, which Footrakul said is where he usually practices on the Jet Ski. Footrakul spent his childhood summers learning from and training with his uncle until he also became a successful racer.

“I started racing when I was 12,” Footrakul said.

Although he took a break from racing for a few years to focus on studies, Footrakul said he got back into it in 2014. Last year was his first time competing at the IJSBA World Finals, which were held in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Since Footrakul isn’t able to practice on a Jet Ski when he’s in Bowling Green, he only had one day to get ready before the competition. Despite having little time to warm back up to the sport, Footrakul placed sixth overall in his class at the competition.

Footrakul said each race is divided into different heats, or motos. In each moto, competitors race around buoys to get the best time. If a skier misses a buoy during the race, he or she receives a penalty, which harms the racer’s overall score. Points are awarded for each individual moto, which are totaled to create each racer’s final score. At the world final, Footrakul finished the first moto in third place, but since he missed a buoy, he was sent to 12th. In the second moto, he came in second. 

To be eligible to race at the finals, competitors must place in the top three of their nation. Footrakul said Thailand is one of the highest-ranked nations in the world of Jet Ski racing. He said he went through four rounds in Thailand before qualifying to race at the world finals competition.

Footrakul raced at another big competition this year after he went back home for winter break. He said he left school early last semester to compete in the King Cup, so named because the trophy comes from the king of Thailand. Footrakul said it is an enormous event; many international racers come to Thailand from all over the world just to compete.

The King Cup was divided into four races. Footrakul explained that after each race, a certain number of points was awarded depending on the place in which each racer finished. Footrakul said his engine broke down during one of the races, and because of the mechanical problems, he was unable to finish that race.

Footrakul said he placed fourth overall at the King Cup this year.

In addition to Jet Skis, Footrakul also races go-karts and motorcycles. His uncle used to be a professional car racer but retired about six years ago after being in an accident on a Jet Ski.

“I also want to do car racing,” said Footrakul, whose uncle owns a racing team. Footrakul said he might ask his uncle if he can be a driver for his team after he graduates from WKU and returns to Thailand.

Footrakul has been competing as a member of his uncle’s Jet Ski team, which is called K45 Maxima Team Paw.

“I’ll probably go back home and help with my family’s business,” Footrakul said, speaking of his plans after graduation.

His parents own a hotel in Thailand, and he said his extended family mines sand to send to glassmaking companies.

Although he said he won’t be able to compete much this year as he prepares to graduate, Footrakul doesn’t intend to quit racing.

“After I graduate, I’ll have a lot of time to practice at home,” he said.