Tool for the Tricks
Personal Watercraft Illustrated, February, 2001
By: Lee Bower Photos, By: Kinney Jones

 

If you’ve ever watched a Pro freestyle competition, I’m sure that you’ve noticed how easy guys like Eric Malone and Alessander Lenzi make the tricks look. Most stand-up riders can barely stand up in the tray when riding at no-wake speeds, but these guys, hell, they climb all over their craft and perform the coolest maneuvers when sitting idle in the water. These guys have the balance and finesse of gymnasts. However, they didn’t star their freestyle careers by doing these tricks, they started with some really simple maneuvers and worked their way up. As the difficulty of their tricks increased, so did the requirements of their equipment. Additional modifications to their craft became a must in an effort to push their routines to a new level.

It’s fairly easy to get started in freestyle and, in fact, many basic maneuvers require absolutely no modifications to the craft. However, if you perform like three-time World Champion Eric Malone, it is mandatory that you make a few modifications to your craft. In order to perform some of the tricks that Eric does, having many of the modifications that he has had done to his 2000-model Yamaha SuperJet is a must. Each and every modification performed on Malone’s boat has a specific purpose.

A couple days after the 2000 World Champions in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Malone (who hails from Duncansville, Pennsylvania) was planning on heading down to Baja Mexico for Rick Roy’s annual Mex Rager. Malone would be traveling by one of our favorite little riding spots, Bashford’s Hot Mineral Spa, we asked them if they would mind meeting us there for a photo shoot. After our photo shoot, we arranged to head over to Kinney Jones’ studio to dissect Malone’s SuperJet, and see exactly what mods have been made to his ski. Soon after we arrived at Jones’ studio, we shot detailed photos of the mods made to Malone’s SuperJet and, upon completion of this, Malone pulled the engine out of his hull so that we could get a close look (and, of course, some close-up photos) at the mods to his mill.

So, for more on the mods made to the SuperJet of the Pro Freestyle World Champ, check out the following photos and captions…

Three-time Pro Freestyle World and National Champion Eric Malone sits atop the 2000-model Yamaha SuperJet that helped him earn his most recent World Championship. The SuperJet Malone competes aboard features many components used by closed-course racers. However, on Malone’s boat, the components are set up specifically for the tricks that he performs. In fact, Malone claims that his craft will actually hit top speeds of around 57 mph. Not bad when you consider that one of the main objectives that Malone has to keep in mind when building his freestyle craft is the bottom-end acceleration. Many of the freestyle-specific components, as well as the custom paint, on Malone’s SuperJet are by Wamilton’s Customs, of West Palm Beach, Florida. While Malone claims that the retail cost of his Yamaha SuperJet is well over $33,000, he does plan on offering replica boats for 2001. Malone also offers all of the components on his boat individually through the Cyclone Division of Keystone Yamaha.

Other than the UMI Racing gas cap on the fuel pickup, the engine compartment of Eric Malone’s freestyle SuperJet doesn’t look any different than that of a race boat. Although not visible, Wamilton’s Customs reinforced the inside of the hull with carbon fiber and Kevlar for added durability. The mechanism for the Baker Performance Products trim system is mounted to the right-rear motor mount, directly below the intake manifold. Malone runs a Full Spectrum stainless-steel bolt kit to mount hi engine in the hull. The trick thing about the bolt kit is that it includes hex-head bolts for engine mounting. In the fuel tank, Malone runs VP PWC-B 103 unleaded fuel wit Maxima Super-M oil.

The chrome-plated-steel Wamilton’s Customs handlepole bracket that Malone uses the pivot point of his handlepole by one inch. Lowering the pivot point of the pole can improve the SupetJet’s handling but, most importantly, when combined with the Wamilton’s Custom carbon-fiber hood and low-profile cowling. It gives the SuperJet a sleeker top, which makes it easier for Malone to climb around on the craft. It also makes it easier to do subs. The aluminum handlepole that Malone uses is manufactured to Wamilton’s specifications by AC Racing. One of the differences between the Wamilton’s spec pole and the standard AC pole is that is has an air breather with a scupper valve to drain the water that tries to enter. The breather allows fresh air to enter the engine compartment while the craft is submerged and the top of the handlepole is out of the water. Note that there is not a handlepole spring used to lessen the sprung weight of the pole. Included with the Wamilton’s pivot bracket are billet-aluminum pole spacers. With these, the pivot bolt is tightened down against the spacers. The resistance in the bushings holds the pole in place for no-handed maneuvers, but still allows the pole to be moved as needed. Also check out the Wamilton’s billet-aluminum hood hooks that are designed to work specifically with the Wamilton’s Customs hood. Custom features abound, but what’s the UMI Racing gas cap in the engine compartment for? Well, to get a clean appearance on the outside of the craft, before Wamilton’s let the pain flow over the ski, he filled in the stock fuel-fill location. To fill the tank, a Wamilton’s fuel pickup was installed, which is threaded to accept a fuel cap, and has one fuel-line output to feed the carburetor’s fuel pump.

Although the R&D Racing cylinder that Malone uses is not legal for IJSBA Limited or Superstock-class racing, IJSBA Freestyle competition is open to all levels of modifications – including aftermarket cylinders. To get more power out of Malone’s engine, Full Spectrum’s Ed Brazina opted to use an R&D Racing cylinder. Before porting and decking the top and the bottom of the cylinder, Brazina removed the cylinder sleeves and coated the inside of the cylinder casting and outside of the sleeves to prevent potential air and water leaks. Additionally, he ported the SuperJets stock crankcase for better flow, and decked its top for optimum port timing. When completed, Brazina flow-bench tested the cases and cylinders to ensure consistent flow between the front and rear cylinders. While he was at it, Brazaina tossed aside the stock 81mm pistons and installed a set of R&D Racing’s 84mm Dominator pistons, which are manufactured to R&D’s specs by Wiseco. Brazina had the piston domes ceramic coated and the skirts molly TCB coated to improve the heat dissipation and long-term reliability. Brazina capped off the cylinder with a billet R&D head with a girdle kit. To achieve the ideal squish velocity, he modified the R&D combustion-chamber domes. The displacement of the modified domes is approximately 25cc each. In the OE electrical box, Malone uses a programmable Vilder CDI. First offered over six years ago, the ignition timing of the Vilder CDI can be reprogrammed by connecting it to a laptop computer. And with the flip of a switch, the timing curve can be swapped between two predetermined curves. Those who know how to set them up highly prize the Vilder CDI, since they are all but impossible to find these days. For fuel mixing duties, Malone’s engine is set up with a pair of 48mm Full Spectrum carburetors. The modified carbs, which start their life as 46mm Mikuni Super BN units, mount atop an R&D Dominator intake manifold, and Boyesen dual-stage RAD valves keep the fresh charge of air and fuel trapped in the crankcase. On the exhaust side of the motor, Malone uses an old-style Factory Pipe Mod exhaust system with ECWI. He feels that the older system performs better with his engine setup and riding style. Malone claims that the Ed Brazina-built engine produces and estimated 130 horsepower.

On the business end of the Wamilton’s Customs/AC Racing handlepole is a UMI Racing billet-aluminum steering system. Mot only is this system lighter than the stock unit, it rotate on sealed bearings for precision movement, unlike the sloppiness associated with the OE system, which uses nylon bushings. Renthal medium-compound handgrips are riveted to a set of UMI Racing 0 freestyle bars to prevent them from slipping off. On the right side of the bars is a UMI billet-aluminum finger throttle lever, and on the left side of the bars is the lever that is used to activate Malone’s hydraulic trim system. When pulled, the trim nozzle moves upward for back flips and other tricks where the nose of the craft needs to be raised. The Oechin pad was covered with a Wamilton’s non-slip neoprene cover. So, why does Malone use a non-slip handlepole-pad cover? Well, for several of the tricks Malone performs, he is either sitting of lying on the pad, so he needs the traction. This also explains the Wamilton’s aluminum support bracket under the pad. It is there to support Malone’s weight.

Wamilton’s Custom offers two versions of its carbon-fiber hood: one for racing, and one for freestyle. Obviously, Malone uses the freestyle hood, since it had handholds built into both sides of it. Malone uses the handholds when performing tricks such as the Bulldog, as well as when transitioning between tricks.

The Wamilton’s Custom scupper-valve assemblies drain the hull of Malone’s SuperJet incredibly fast with just the simple forward momentum if the craft. The two scupper valves assemblies (right scupper not in view) clear the hull of water much faster than an electric bilge pump ever could. That’s why you won’t find and electric bilge pump under the hood of Malone’s boat. Malone uses a Wamilton’s Customs carbon-fiber ride plate to improve the crafts planning time. Unlike most racers who have their trim systems directed downward when activated, Malone’s pivot upward. To accomplish this, he uses a Baker Performance Products hydraulic system and several OE Yamaha pieces, including the pump reduction nozzle, trim ring and steering nozzle. All are OE pieces form a ’94 Yamaha WaveRaider. Inside, the stock pump is a Cyclone repitched Solas Concord 13/19 impeller. The original stator nose cone was replaced with a flat Cyclone cap. This cap is said to improve bottom-end acceleration. On the intake end of the pump is an R&D Pro 2 Aquavein intake grate.

While the Wamilton’s Customs race hood for the Yamaha SuperJet has two large-diameter vents, its freestyle hood features four vent tubes. The positioning of the tubes allows for a maximum air intake with minimal water ingestion while the craft is submerged. Better still, the hood weighs about half what the stock hood does, lowering the craft’s center of gravity and improving its stability.

If you’re familiar with the SuperJet’s tray, then you know that these footholds are not standard equipment. Wamilton’s Customs installed a set of its Cyclone footholds in the gunwales of Malone’s SuperJet, but don’t think for a minute that it was a simple project. Most of the gunwales and the bottom of the tray were cut to help aid in the installation of the scupper valves used to drain the hull. The installation of the scupper valves require that tubes, approximately an inch and a half in diameter, are routed from the bulkhead in the engine compartment to the stern of the craft. Since a good portion of the right side of the hull is dedicated to the OE exhaust outlet tube, this makes it especially difficult to route the drain tube on the right side of the craft. As a result, the right-side scupper valve exits into the pump cavity. While the inside of the rear of the hull was exposed, Wamilton’s reinforced it with Kevlar and carbon fiber. Once the scupper assemblies and footholds were completely installed, the tray and gunwales of Malone’s SuperJet were covered with a Cyclone mat kit manufactured by Hydro-Turf. The mat area below where Malone locks his feet in is recessed to keep his feet from sliding out sideways.

Using a Wamilton’s Customs front exhaust kit allows Malone to do tricks that may otherwise cause the rear exhaust exit to cause cavitations in the pump. The exhaust kit includes an exhaustee fitting, hosing and the hull-exit assembly. With the kit installed, the exhaust tales the path of least resistance, which is out the side of the craft when the rear of the boat is submerged. When the craft is running on a plane, the exhaust exits out of both locations, but mostly out of the rear exit, due to straight-through flow in the tee fitting. In case you’re wondering, the exhaust noise does increase a bit, but not too much since the stock Yamaha SuperJet waterbox is still utilized.As you can also see in this photo, a Cyclone bumper mat kit by Hydro-Turf offers a sure-foot step all around the craft.
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