We sit down with Robert Dunlap, a Pro Watercraft rider who races the vintage class. We chat about how he got into the sport, and what his plans are for the future.
1. Rob, before we get started, could you give me some background on how you got started in Jet Skiing?
I’ve had skis around basically my whole life, but I didn’t really get started on stand ups until about 10 years ago. I was actually on my way to the boat ramp with my raider and I rounded the corner and saw the cleanest OG 440 I’ve ever seen. Sweet talked the guy and got it on the OG trailer with titles for both for $200. I took it out for the first time, I was a natural, and I was instantly hooked. The rest is history.
2. When and how did you decide to start racing?
I had an old buddy that raced pro in the 80’s by the name of Ralph Henning. Multi time champion and still to this day one of the best riders I know. When I got the 440 we started talking about mods and upgrades. Then I was introduced to another gentleman named Matt Connors. Matt owns Outpost Powersports which used to be Kawasaki Country, who is one of my main sponsors. Matt used to build all of Ralph’s skis as well as countless other championship winning boats. He built my first super stock 440 that actually clocked 47mph so he talked me into racing it. Went to my first race in 2015 and had a blast. Knew in that moment that this was more than just a hobby, but a lifestyle.
3. Can you tell me a little about your racing career so far? Any accomplishments?
I usually ran top 3 in our region, I built a couple of other boats and I couldn’t get past a couple of guys, Ralph and Curtis Reinburg. I knew I needed a faster boat and Curtis was kind enough to sell me his 94sx. It already had a 750 pump swap and a half pipe and Pro Watercraft front sponsons and XL rear sponsons, so I had to have it — the price was right. It’s still my main race boat and has a few championships under its belt. I’ve done some different stuff to it to get a little more out of it to be able to compete with the heavy hitters from the West Coast. Needless to say that ski is BARKIN.
4. Can you give me a run down of what ski(s) you have and race? What Pro Watercraft parts are you using on them?
Right now my main boats are my 94 550sx mod, and my 02sxi pro, both using Pro Watercraft front sponsons, pump stuffers, and XL rear sponsons. I also have a former race boat that I surf ride now, 89 x2 with Pro Watercraft XL rear sponsons and stuffer.
5. What is your next big goal?
My next big goal is to win the Pro Watercross National Championship again. I definitely want to try to make another appearance at worlds this year.
6. What is your favorite thing about Jet Skiing?
My favorite thing about jet skiing is the fact that any stress you are under, and frustration, you can just hop on ski and start ripping it and feel so much better about everything.
7. What motivates you?
What motivates me is, life is too short, and you have 2 options. You can be like everyone else, and forgotten over time, or you can be remembered for something. Whatever you are great at, apply yourself to that because you have no idea how far it can take you, and how many notable things you can accomplish.
8. What would you say to someone who is interested in Jet Ski racing but might be a little hesitant?
Get out and run some buoys and get comfortable and do it. We were all beginners once, and everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t be intimidated, most racers are more than willing to help you along the way.
9. What is your favorite memory from racing Jet Skis?
My favorite memory has to be my world finals trip in 2019. Super lit trip, got to hang out with tons of great people, and even after I banged up my knee I still had a blast.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
11. Anyone you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank all my sponsors, ProWatercraft, Hydroturf, ipd graphics, Outpost Powersports, Matt Connors for everything he does, Jd Bateman, Chad Simon, Ralph and Shannon Henning, Chris Hagest for everything he does for body beach and our sport, and a very understanding fiancé.