POLK CITY, Fla.; The International Water Ski Federation Racing Council has announced that the 2003 Water Ski Racing World Championships will be hosted by the United States. The biennial event will take place Oct. 12-18 in Long Beach, Calif., home of the famed Catalina Ski Race. The National Water Ski Racing Association a sport division of USA Water Ski since 1991, will sanction the competition.

"We are honored to have the 13th Water Ski Racing World Championships return to the United States in 2003," said Steve McDermeit, USA Water Ski's executive director. "As the home of the Catalina Ski Race, Long Beach is a well-established hub for ski racers around the globe. It is only fitting that Long Beach be selected as the destination of the Ski Racing Worlds."

More than 50 of the world's top water ski racers will compete in four rounds of marathon races in pursuit of individual and team medals. A maximum of 14 skiers from at least 14 countries will compete in six divisions: Men's Open, Women's Open, Junior Boys, Junior Girls, Men's Formula 2 and Women's Formula 2.

The Formula 2 divisions (a new addition to the world venue) will race alongside the Open divisions. Formula 2 boats (single engine outboards) reach top speeds of 75 to 80 mph, while Formula 1 boats exceed speeds of 115 mph.

Each round consists of three races: Women's Open and Women's Formula 2 will race for 45 minutes plus 1 lap; Juniors (boys and girls) will race for 30 minutes plus 1 lap; and Men's Open and Men's Formula 2 will race for 1hour plus 1 lap. Races will take place every other day beginning on Oct. 12. Three course layouts, ranging in length from 3 to 5 miles, will be utilized.

Points will be awarded based on a 1,000-point scale. Points accumulated during each skiers' top-three races will be combined to determine individual placements. Team standings are based upon total points accumulated in the Open divisions. Each team earns points for their two best finishes in Men's Open and their two best finishes in Women's Open in each round.

"We're looking forward to a great event with participation from skiers, drivers and observers from around the world," said Jon Cole, chairman of the International Water Ski Racing Association, the non-profit host organization. "It will be a truly international event and an opportunity for those who are not familiar with ski racing to see what an incredibly extreme and exciting sport it is."