Speed, skill on display as Watercross Tour makes splash in scenic Southern Utah; STGnews Videocast, Photo Gallery

SAND HOLLOW STATE PARK – The striking beauty of Sand Hollow Reservoir’s sparkling waters and red rock backdrop was on brilliant display Saturday as the reservoir and state park played host to round four of the Pro Watercross Tour where over 100 professional and amateur watercraft racers looked to make a splash in the national tour.

Racers line up for the start of the Pro Watercross Tour held at Sand Hollow State Park, Utah, June, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Racers line up for the start of the Pro Watercross Tour held at Sand Hollow State Park, Utah, June, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Excessive heat seemed to be the watch phrase of the day for both competitors and spectators as triple-digit temperatures created scorching beach sand and a unique set of tuning problems for many of the souped up racing machines.

But despite high heat, competitors, who hailed from across the country and around the globe, praised Southern Utah for its beauty and friendliness.

St. George is awesome,” Watercross competitor Dustin Motzouris said. “You know the people are so friendly here; the mountains and just the scenery is, is insane. It’s so nice and warm. The water’s nice and warm so, uh yeah, St. George has been a tough place to beat for sure.”

Free activities like this blob launcher were provided for spectators at the Pro Watercross Tour held at Sand Hollow State Park, Utah, June 27, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Free activities like this blob launcher were provided for spectators at the Pro Watercross Tour held at Sand Hollow State Park, Utah, June 27, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Motzouris originally hails from Durban, South Africa, but now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where his team is based.

St. George is the fourth stop on the Pro Watercross Tour which has already held competitions in Panama City Beach, Florida, Pensacola Beach, Florida and Sparks, Nevada. After St. George, the tour will continue with stops in Hartwell, Georgia, Charleston, West Virgina – where the National Championship will be held – and Naples, Florida – where the World Championship will take place.

This is the first time the tour has come to St. George and race organizers as well as St. George Tourism officials are pleased with the addition of the new tour.

“I think it’s been fantastic so far,” Director of Sports and Adventure Marketing for the St. George Tourism Office, Kevin Lewis, said, “I mean we’ve got a great turnout … the beach is full of people from all over the world really.”

Pro Watercross Tour CEO A.J. Handler praised Southern Utah for its scenery and said that he was shocked by how many options for recreation the area offered, adding that the racers were all really excited about the location.

“Erminio Iantosca, a pro rider, he actually phoned his parents and said ‘you have to be here,’” Handler said, “and they are all excited.”

Both Lewis and Handler are already looking to the future of the event and expect to see participation grow.

I personally think that the ridership will either double next year, if not triple,” Handler said.

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The Pro Watercross Tour splashes across Sand Hollow Reservoir, Sand Hollow State Park, Utah, June 27, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Spectators at the event were able get front row seats to incredibly fast racing action – some of the watercraft can travel at speeds of 90 mph – as well as participate in a variety of beach and water activities.

Perhaps the most popular activity was a colorful blob launcher that used human power and physics to launch participants high in the air as they flipped, twisted and flopped toward the water.

Other activities included bounce houses and beach volleyball courts. Kayak, paddle board and watercraft rentals were available through The Beach at Sand Hollow Restaurant and Rentals.

The Pro Watercross Tour action continues Sunday at Sand Hollow State Park and is free for spectators to attend, although state park fees apply.

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