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Fans of Jetcraft may have more to do

Jan 1, 2003

Fans of jetcraft may have more to do than just make noise if Dutch thrill-seeker J.P. Maximoto successfully crosses the Atlantic Ocean on his jetcraft this winter. The attempt was set to start any time after November 15, given the right conditions. If he completes the nearly 4,500-mile passage from New York to Monaco, Maximoto and his support team would proceed with plans for an annual jetcraft race between the two cities with a $1 million prize for the winner.

"We're looking to make it the longest motor race in the world," Maximoto said. Many people are asking not how it will be done, but rather, why? Not Maximoto, however. A former helicopter test pilot, NATO tank gunner, and medical-supply pilot for the war in Mozambique, Maximoto is anxious for another adventure. "I was on the beach one day watching these jet skis go back and forth and I thought, 'Why can't they go across the bloody ocean?'" Inquiries with mechanics and watercraft manufacturer Yamaha produced the same answer: why not?

Maximoto explained that the planned race will be open to everyone and that, compared to automobile or competitive ocean sailing, costs are very low. "There will be a $40,000 entry fee plus about $20,000 to outfit a jetcraft," said Maximoto. "We won't allow any modifications to the engines so everyone will be on the same level." No special skills are needed for the race, either. An apparently idiot-proof waypoint GPS navigation system and an Argos tracking device will ensure that entrants will not get lost between floating fuel stops that will placed about 600 miles apart. The trial run will begin in New York with Maximoto reportedly being launched off the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. The most difficult leg of the journey, according to the adventurous Dutchman, is the first 12 hours to Bermuda, which includes rough sections of the Gulf Stream. "The other tough part will be the Straits of Gibraltar," he added.

After Bermuda there are planned stops in the Azores and Ibiza before the grand finish in Monaco. The expected fuel range of Maximoto's jetcraft is 900 miles, according to Maximoto's support team, which will necessitate the floating fuel stations placed every 600 miles, roughly one day's journey between stops.

Maximoto is using a standard Yamaha Waverunner Waveventure 1100 that has been modified with extra fuel tanks. A 120-gallon tank was added aft and a 30 gallon was placed in the nose. The Waverunner also boasts something of a "nav station" equipped with a Northstar GPS, a handheld Garmin GPS, and an RDF unit for indicating the bearing to the radiobeacons that will be mounted on the planned floating refueling stations. Maximoto will wear a full wet suit and will carry a survival pack with a life raft, an EPIRB, and a watermaker in case he is separated from the craft and is faced with a survival situation.

Other than staying in strong physical shape and preparing necessary equipment, Maximoto explained that there is little that can be done in way of preparation. Clear weather for the start is imperative, however. This is especially true for the difficult first leg. "I have already done 300-mile stints," said Maximoto. "But nothing can compare to the real thing."


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