In the adrenaline-fueled world of competitive Jet Ski racing, Filipino athletes are making their mark, and one name stands out prominently: Paul del Rosario. With a career spanning over three decades, Del Rosario has become an inspiration to many aspiring racers around the world.
As Del Rosario competed in the 2023 JSAP National Tour Championship held at Sarangani and Subic Bay earlier this year, he was inducted as the first Philippine Jetski Hall of Famer by the National Association for the numerous achievements he has achieved in his career and the countless contributions to the country’s Jet Ski racing industry.
“[Being recognized as a Hall of Famer] is truly an honor,” he said. And while every win is important, Del Rosario said he is notably proudest of his Stock Ski title because it’s a category that allows his skills and talents to shine, rather than letting the machine do most of the work.
Del Rosario’s last race was held at Lake Havasu City in Arizona, USA, in early October, during the rainy season. Del Rosario entered his last World Finals, the 2023 SBT (Short Block Technologies) IJSBA Jetski World Finals.
“It’s a fitting ending for a long jetski racing career. I can now retire in peace and focus on work, family, and assisting JSAP to develop more talent to represent the Philippines internationally,” Del Rosario said.
A colorful, storied career
Del Rosario’s remarkable achievements include clinching the Philippine Rider of the Year award from the Jetski Association of the Philippines (JSAP) an impressive nine times.
His crowning glory came in 2010 when he finally won his first World title in the expert runabout World Finals after years of trying. For years, he came close to bringing home the gold but never entirely, with mechanical issues always plaguing his final races.
In 2022, Del Rosario secured the gold medal at the International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA) World Finals in the Ski Modlites category, held in Arizona, USA. IJSBA is the governing body of the sport, similar to how the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) oversees soccer in the world.
Bagging the top prize in the World Finals is a big deal. In the world of Jet Ski racing, this league is like its Olympics, with respective national champions from other countries sent to compete.
This victory not only brought pride to the Philippines but also elevated him to the coveted rank of #1 in the world rankings for his category.
Among the many accolades he has won over the years are being three times World Champion (2010 Expert Open Runabout), 2022 Am Ski Modlites Champion, 2023 Vet Ski GP;
2007 Thailand Pro Am Runabout Super Stock; and 2011 Thai World Cup champion (Pro-Am Runabout Open).
Del Rosario is also the only Filipino rider to win internationally on all three major types of Jet skiing—sport, ski, and runabout.
Reflecting on his illustrious career, Del Rosario said, “Jet Ski racing makes me feel alive. When I’m riding one, it feels like I’m in a different world.”
However, every athlete knows that retirement is inevitable. In 2023, Del Rosario made the difficult decision to retire from competitive sports, acknowledging that his fruitful career had prepared him for this moment.
“I can now retire in peace and focus on work, family, and assisting JSAP to develop more talent to represent the Philippines internationally,” he said.
Del Rosario’s achievements are not just personal victories; they are proof of the resilience and dedication of Filipino athletes.
Jet Ski racing, although a niche sport, has the potential to grow in popularity, provided there is support from both the government and private sectors. Del Rosario emphasized the need for more resources and recognition, saying that it’s all about cultivating athletes and designating them in the right categories.
Del Rosario said he’ll do his best to cultivate riders through JSAP, with the help of his brothers-from-another-mother, Harley David as president, and BJ Ang as director. He envisions a bright future where more Filipinos embrace the sport and where the country produces its superstar athletes.
With his retirement, Del Rosario plans to continue riding recreationally and focus on his personal life, work, and family.
Del Rosario leaves behind a meaningful message for the aspiring talents of the future: “The future is bright for Jet Ski racing. We have come a long way—from being laughed at before to being respected in the game. And I know we can go much further and achieve more.”
Indeed, Paul del Rosario’s amazing career serves as an inspiration to the next generation of Filipino Jet Ski racers, reminding them that with determination, dedication, and the right support, they too can ride the waves of success.