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Fiesta to Feature Powerboat Racers, Acrobatic Jet-Skiers

May 26, 1988

The roar of 100-m.p.h. powerboats and the antics of an acrobatic jet-ski team will compete for the attention of the more than 100,000 people expected to attend the nine-day Fiesta del Sol beginning Saturday at Ventura Harbor.

Admission and parking is free for the sixth annual beachside celebration, which boasts an impressive roster of water-sport champions who will be competing or performing in the surf adjacent to Harbor Village.

In addition to the aquatic events, the fiesta will feature a volleyball tournament, sand-castle-building contest, children's fishing derby, precision kite-flying demonstration and a Miss Fiesta del Sol bathing beauty contest.

Competitors to watch for include 75-year-old Bob Nordskog, president of the Pacific Offshore Power Boat Racing Assn., the race's sponsor, and, with 161 first-place finishes under his belt, the acknowledged dean of the sport.

Nordskog has broken a hip and dislocated both shoulders in racing accidents, but that hasn't deterred him from logging some formidable records. He won a race from the Canadian border to Tijuana, plowing through heavy seas in 31 hours and 13 minutes--an average of 56 m.p.h.

He beats the drum for local causes wherever his group races, raising funds for efforts as diverse as guide dogs for the blind and the restoration of old ships in San Francisco. In Ventura, his cause is the recasting of the Junipero Serra statue outside City Hall.

Nordskog will be among 35 entrants in the Ventura Channel Dash, an offshore powerboat race from the Ventura Harbor to Santa Barbara and back. The 40-foot boats should be visible as they spray foam about a mile off the coast. The race starts at 11 a.m. June 4.

In contrast to Nordskog and his $250,000 speedboat will be 17-year-old (Jammin') Jeff Jacobs, who last year became the youngest world champion in the history of jet-ski racing. Jacobs will be competing with about 200 other jet-skiers, including his mother, Karen, who is ranked No. 2 in the women's pro division.

The racers will circle an oval twice the size of a football field, formed by buoy markers placed in the surf. Others, competing in freestyle events, will be judged on the difficulty and creativity of the acrobatic feats they perform within a 2-minute period.

More stunt skiing will be supplied by the Wavebusters, a six-member exhibition team known for riding their jet-skis into oncoming waves, jumping 30 feet in the air and doing a few somersaults before landing. The Wavebusters will do double duty as lifeguards for the event, a role that recently led to their saving former Olympian Bruce Jenner after a large wave threw him from his jet-ski during a competition in Hawaii. They will perform every two hours Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.

For those who like their motor sports on land, Craig Breedlove will be on hand to show off his "Spirit of America," a rocket with wheels that has propeled the 49-year-old grandfather to several speed records.

The "Spirit" will be accompanied by several other exhibits, such as a classic hot rod display, houseboat tours, a hot air balloon and a sports fashion show.

For information on Fiesta del Sol, which runs through June 5, call Ventura Harbor Village at 644-0169 or 650-0137.

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