Christian Daly Is Making a Splash In the Pro Watercross Tour
Writer: Josh Brown
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
Christian Daly can’t say for sure, but he knows one thing — he loves to race. Unlike his father Derek, a longtime IndyCar driver and Irish racing legend, and his older brother and IndyCar driver Conor, Christian doesn’t find his need for speed on land but on water instead.
Christian’s journey to becoming a Pro Watercross driver happened about a year and a half ago. The 21-year old had always enjoyed riding jet skis, but everything changed when several friends mentioned that he should consider racing.
“Several of my buddies race out on Morse Reservoir, and they said, ‘hey, you should come and try a race sometime,’” Christian says. “At the time I said no that I just enjoyed riding for fun. But I finally went to one of the races and immediately fell in love with it. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Christian’s first race came last August at the P1 AquaX USA race in Whiting, Indiana. Daly finished second place for an impressive debut. Since then, Daly has been splashing his way through the circuit.
That first race validated a feeling that he had from the beginning — he could do this and truly compete.
“I won’t say that I necessarily felt like a natural, but it really came quick to me,” Christian says. “Once I got on the jet ski, I felt the balance of it, how it turns, how to read the water. After that first race, I thought, ‘Why don’t I keep doing this?’”
It Runs In the Family
Christian’s newest hobby comes as no surprise to his dad and brothers. The family knows all too well that desire to compete and be in the driver’s seat. With their racing background, it isn’t shocking to hear that the family fully supports Christian and enjoys watching him compete on the water.
Perhaps the least surprised member of the family is Christian’s mother, Beth Boles. Believe it or not, Beth raced jet skis once upon a time as well.
Christian’s mom raced stand-up jet skis for quite a while, and when she realized her son was developing a passion for the sport, she was ecstatic.
“Obviously, when she heard that I was going to be doing this, she was super stoked and couldn’t wait to go to the races,” Christian says. “My family has been all for it, supporting my dreams and encouraging me to follow them. That has been really helpful and awesome to have that support.”
You Built That?
Pro Watercross is certainly much more than a hobby for Christian. Once he realized he was going to be racing full time, the 21-year old started looking into jet ski options.
He decided to race in the Sport GP class, which requires a top-of-the-line jet ski. So, Christian decided to build one himself.
Last year, he and his dad spent countless hours in Derek’s garage, building the jet ski from the engine out — a process that is daunting to say the least.
“There was tons and tons of custom work that went into this boat,” Christian says. “We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. We painted it my favorite color — riviera blue.”
The end result made it worth it for the father-son duo — a completely modified, triple-cylinder Kawasaki 1100. The custom-built jet ski tops out at 67.7 miles per hour.
“Firing it up for the first time ever was exhilarating for me,” Christian says. “It has unbelievable acceleration and one of the best engines that you can get today. Knowing that I’m out there on this boat that my dad and I built together, winning races no less, has been a cool experience.”
A Fearless Approach
Like most drivers, Christian has had his ups and downs.
In one race in Chicago early on in his career last year, Daly made a “rookie mistake” and got impatient trying to push for a lead before hitting a wave wrong. He was thrown straight up in the air before landing on the side railing of his jet ski.
The wreck left him with a fractured fibula and cost him a trip to the World Finals, which he was planning to compete in.
“That was a huge setback,” he says. “It was unfortunate. I wasn’t able to race in the World Finals and that was tough for me. But I knew I was going to come back even stronger.”
It took a month of rehab and training before Christian could get back on the water. His first race back from the gruesome injury was the World Championships in Naples, Fla. Daly finished third, proving to himself that he had overcome the injury.
Like with anything else, practice makes perfect, though. Christian is a Carmel resident, but most weeks he can be seen practicing on Morse Reservoir in Noblesville.
He practices at least twice a week on the lake, and sometimes more, in an effort to continue to grow and learn in a sport that is still quite new to him.
Just Getting Started
Christian has a full race schedule this year. He will compete in about 10 to 15 races throughout the season, all over the country and the world.
His season doesn’t end in the summer, either. His biggest races down the road are at Lake Havasu for the World Finals in October and a race in Thailand in November.
Locally, Daly has two main sponsors — Wolfies Grill and Farmers Insurance. He says it’s because of their support that he has been able to continue to pursue his dream and travel around the world doing it.
As for the future, Christian doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. Quite the opposite, he says he’s just getting started. Daly has high expectations as a racer and cementing his legacy in Pro Watercross, but for now, he’s simply enjoying life on the water.
“This sport is my getaway,” Christian says. “It is an awesome experience, and the atmosphere each race is incredible. I obviously want to win a lot of races and championships in the future. But I want to be someone who makes a positive impact, too.”