World Champion Kevin Reiterer (centre) is joined by Victory Team chairman Huraiz Bin Huraiz (right) and his longtime girlfriend Laura Ullrich at the 2019 Annual UIM Awards Night in Lausanne, in the first week of March.
World Champion Kevin Reiterer (centre) is joined by Victory Team chairman Huraiz Bin Huraiz (right) and his longtime girlfriend Laura Ullrich at the 2019 Annual UIM Awards Night in Lausanne Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Victory Team’s three-time defending world champion Kevin Reiterer is confident he will return even stronger to continue his charge for a fourth crown when normality returns on the UIM-ABP Aquabike Class Pro World Championship later this year.

With H2O Racing taking over as promoters of the aquabikes, much was expected after they had put together seven stops around the world for this season. Racing opened with the Grand Prix of Kuwait from February 13 to 15, while the next three races (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Portimao, Portugal and Olbia, Italy) have either been cancelled or postponed for the time being.

The next three stops on the 2020 calendar are scheduled to be in China (October), a Grand Prix of Asia (November) and the season finale on the Khalid Lagoon for the Grand Prix of Sharjah from December 15-18.

Reiterer, who began his third successive season for Dubai-based Victory Team at the Grand Prix of Kuwait, is currently tied for third with Frenchman Mickael Poret with 55 points. The top two riders though — leader Stian Schjetlein of Norway and Spaniard Nacho Armillas — are not too far away with 62 and 56 points, respectively.

Kevin in action

After the season-opening race in Kuwait, Aquabike world champions enjoyed the biggest date on the sport’s calendar when the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) marked the 11th anniversary of its annual awards Ceremony held at Le Musèe Olimpique in Lausanne, on March 7.

“I am hoping that things will calm down more and I am confident the whole world can surpass this pandemic. This is a surreal situation that we have, but we can get back to normal business. Obviously, and hopefully, I will join forces again with Victory Team and try to defend our world title again. I will be back racing soon,” Reiterer told Gulf News from his home in Neunkirchen, Austria.

“I really hope that all races can continue and will continue from September onwards. The organisers UIM, Aquabike and the promoters seem very confident to have at least three races by the end of the year, depending of course, on the regulations in place from each country allowing people to travel,” he added.

In the meantime, Reiterer — who will turn 28 on August 11 — is enjoying the downtown at his disposal after more than 12 years around the world as a professional aquabike rider. Besides the regular yoga sessions and the indoor workouts, Reiterer has been able to get some much-needed rest and recuperate his body.

“I am enjoying this time with family. I have always been on the move and I have always had to be 100 per cent. So whenever there was even a minor injury, I really couldn’t rest and recover from it because there was always a race in two or three weeks’ time. I was always trying to keep my fitness levels up and be on top for the next race even though I couldn’t really recover from those injuries,” he related.

“And now, when I am forced to sit still and countdown and stay relaxed and have a minimalist life, what more can I do? I cook, eat clean and exercise, but I also have the time to really focus on the weak parts of my body while I heal myself and strengthen it again. I am no longer stressing about ‘when is my next race?’ I am more like ‘thank you for this great time’ to focus on the weak parts of my body and just be healthy for the long haul so that I can do what I love most for a longer period of time,” Reiterer added.

“Don’t get me wrong. Yes, I am patiently waiting for racing to continue. It’s really hard to describe the feeling. The adrenalin and emotions are undescribable. Every race is such an amazing excitement of wandering into the unknown. As a racer, you give your everything and yet, you still really don’t know what will happen at the end of the race,” he stressed.

Reiterer works in close unison with his manager Tim Wilkinson, and the combination has so far, fetched Victory Team two back-to-back world titles in the Ski Division GP1 aquabike category in 2018 and 2019. His first crown was as a 23-year-old, in 2015. Since 2018, Reiterer has won all but two of the 19 motos and six out of the seven Grand Prix for his successive world titles.

The global lockdown has brought in a degree of wisdom as well. “This pandemic also gave us the idea to think different for the future and to evolve ourselves as individuals and humans. Over the years, we have had this mentality that we need more and more. Maybe we should be happy with what we have and be grateful for the world around us,” Reiterer noted.

“Hopefully, we will do something different and be more cautious and different to the world we have. Maybe we will change towards all the things that we took for granted. Now we see how these normal things are actually the only things we need to survive. It has been a good lesson for all of us,” he added.