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Articles / Riding the Wave / Jamie-lee Spence: My Journey in Jet Ski Racing. From Childhood Dreams to Championship Titles

Jamie-lee Spence: My Journey in Jet Ski Racing. From Childhood Dreams to Championship Titles

12 June 2024

Introduction and Background

Jet skiing has been a part of my life since before I was born. My parents were avid pole ski enthusiasts, and by the age of four, I was riding up and down the beach on my own. However, life took a turn when my parents faced tough times and had to sell their jet skis when I was just five years old.

When I turned 13, my dad and I reignited our passion for the sport by purchasing a Kawasaki SXR 800 and an old Yamaha Superjet. This hobby quickly turned into a serious pursuit when we attended a local race organized by the shop where we bought our skis. From that moment, we were hooked on racing.

Despite the challenges, including my parents' divorce, my dad and I bonded over our shared love for jet skiing. We trained diligently, spending four to five days a week at the beach. Our big break came when we decided to participate in the Kings Cup race in Thailand. Though our old Kawasaki pole ski struggled to even get off the start line, the experience solidified my desire to race at an international level.

My dedication paid off when I became the first junior to receive sponsorship from Jettribe USA, allowing me to race in the Thailand Watercross Grand Prix. Over the years, I joined the 59 Racing Team from Thailand, who became like family. This journey led me to the World Finals in 2014, where I transitioned from pole skis to runabouts, thanks to the encouragement and support from fellow racers.

Eight1 Racing Team (Tralee, Derek, and Bailey Cunningham) has been instrumental in my journey. They have taken me on board for multiple events, and I even fly over to Queensland to train with them. If it wasn't for the team, I wouldn't be racing today. I owe my biggest thank you to them and am grateful for all their support.


I am proud to hold several titles, including:
  • Current Titles:
    • Australian Champion Women's Runabout
    • Australian Watercross 3A Pro-Am Runabout Stock
    • Queensland Women's Runabout Champion
  • Past Titles:
    • Multiple Champion and Runner-Up titles for Lites Ski and Runabout Stock in Western Australia
    • 4th Place at World Finals 2014 Women's Runabout
    • 6th Place World Finals 2014 Novice Women's Ski Limited
    • 3rd Place Pro-Am Women's Ski Limited World Cup Grand Prix Thailand 2013
    • 4th Place Novice Ski 2 Stroke Stock World Cup Grand Prix Thailand 2013

Training Regime

Balancing life as a mom to a beautiful three-year-old daughter and working full-time as a pediatric nurse means my on-water training is limited. To maintain my fitness and strength, I engage in multiple off-water training sessions. I play Australian Rules Football, which keeps me running and training cardio three times a week. I also participate in regular triathlons, training by swimming twice a week and cycling once a week. Additionally, I attend strength and conditioning classes whenever possible.

Challenges & Overcoming Them

In 2017, I faced a significant challenge at the Kings Cup in Thailand. While racing in the Novice Runabout Stock class, I had a bad accident with another rider, which damaged my jet ski and shook my confidence. This experience introduced fear into my racing, affecting my performance in subsequent events. Overcoming this fear required immense mental strength and perseverance.

Another challenge was being one of the few female racers in Western Australia, often competing against men. While this helped improve my skills, it also meant facing resistance from some male competitors who didn't appreciate losing to a girl. With the support of my family and sponsors, I pushed through these challenges and continued to excel.

Currently, there is no racing in my home state, and with plans to travel around Australia in a caravan, we sold our jet skis. This gap in on-water training is bridged by maintaining a rigorous off-water training routine.

Diet and Nutrition

Juggling work, studies, and motherhood makes maintaining proper nutrition challenging. I rely on pre-made meals from Youfoods to ensure I eat well. On race days, my nerves often reduce my appetite, so I focus on high-carb dinners like pasta the night before a race. In the morning, I have toast with Vegemite and a banana, and throughout the day, I snack on lolly snakes and drink plenty of water.

Mental Preparation

Mental preparation is crucial for racing. I practice mindfulness and deep breathing on race mornings. From the moment I see the track layout, I visualize every turn and start, ensuring I know the track inside out. During races, I talk to myself, focusing on my lines and breathing to keep my mind clear and focused.

Equipment Preferences

For the past 12 years, I have trusted Jettribe gear for my wetsuit and life vest. I prefer helmets with a smaller shell, particularly enjoying Just1 helmets for their fit and comfort.

Memorable Races

One of my most memorable races was the 2017 Tianzhi Cup Motorboat International Open in China. The massive crowd of spectators was incredible. More recently, the Australian Watercross Nationals in May 2024 in Gold Coast was special because it was the first race my three-year-old daughter, Iylah, watched me compete in. Having her cheer for me from the shore was a heartwarming experience.

Advice for Amateurs

For those starting in the sport, my advice is to train hard and embrace starting at the back of the pack. Learn to navigate the rough white water and work your way forward. Always have fun and maintain a positive and humble attitude off the track. Your off-track behavior is just as important as your on-track performance. Ride different types of jet skis whenever possible to enhance your skills and prepare for new opportunities.

Future Goals

My future goals include defending my title at the 2024 Queensland State Titles in the Women's Runabout class. I also aim to return to America to compete in the Women's Runabout class within the next two years. Additionally, I hope to race in China again.

Life Outside of Racing

My life outside of racing is busy but fulfilling. I work full-time as a pediatric nurse and teach assistant nurses. I love spending time with my fiancé and daughter, enjoying activities like camping and exploring nature. Watching my daughter Iylah race BMX is a joy, and I support her at her events whenever I'm not racing.

Sponsors and Acknowledgments

I owe much of my success to my sponsors:
  • Eight1 Racing Team (Tralee, Derek, and Bailey Cunningham): They have supported me through multiple events, and I frequently train with them in Queensland. Their support is invaluable.
  • Jettribe USA: They have provided me with top-notch gear and numerous racing opportunities worldwide.
I also want to thank Craig from Zoomed Images and Alan from Alan McIntosh Sports Photography for capturing incredible images at race events.
This year, I hope to take on a committee role within my local jet ski club, aiming to grow the sport in Western Australia and encourage more juniors and females to participate in racing.


Jun 2024
Lovely write up.
Jun 2024
Well done!
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