STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls High School freshman Austin Skero is the Lucas Oil Dragboat World Series Finals champion in the personal watercraft division, which he captured Nov. 5 in Chandler, Arizona.
Skero beat out 13 other competitors, who were mostly teenagers, with a time of 18.04 seconds on the liquid-quarter mile in his “Gas Hawg” personal watercraft, “winning by just inches,” he said.
As he’s waiting for his turn to race, Skero said he thinks about the temperature.
“If it’s hot, I’ll run slower than if it’s cooler,” he said. “I have to look at temperature at the track, time of the day, and air altitude to dial in a perfect number in my race to win.”
At the World Finals, Skero won his first round with a time of 17.96 seconds and captured the second with a time of 17.85 seconds. In the semifinals, he finished in 17.82 seconds.
He is the latest to follow in his family’s footsteps. His dad, Larry, races a nine-second quarter-mile dragboat called “Flat Nasty,” and his grandfather also drove a dragboat in the 1970s.
“That’s why I like racing,” Austin said. “My grandpa comes to all the races. I have good reaction, I have good light. My dad dials me in.”
In fact, his grandparents let them borrow their personal watercraft to compete, he said.
Going into this race, Skero was second in overall points for the personal watercraft division. That’s why the family made the decision to go to Chandler to compete in the World Series Finals.
Skero began racing personal watercraft in August 2016.
In 11 races, he has won four championships and has two runner-up trophies.
The other wins were at the Personal Water Craft Race and the Jet Ski Shootout, which were both in Grove, Oklahoma, the Llano Rock’n Riverfest, and a race in Paris, Texas.
The second-place finishes were at the Southern Drag Boat Association High Points Championship and Lucas Oil High Point Championship.
In 2016, he was the runner-up at Marble Falls LakeFest, which is part of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series, in the personal watercraft division. He didn’t place in 2017.
He plans to race dragboats when he gets older, he said.
His mother, Julie, said Arizona race drew boats and watercraft from around the world.
“He’s done a great job,” she said. “We’re super proud of him.”