Michael Ratti is ready to resume his pro jet sky career.
By Doug Gorman
When Henry County resident Michael Ratti climbs on his jet ski this weekend at the Pro Hydro-X Tour stop at Lake Tobosofkee, he hopes he can recapture the glory.
Ratti was the best in business just three years ago, winning a personal watercraft national title in the amateur division in 2008, and then as a pro a year later in 2009.
That's when an injury temporarily derailed his career.
Ratti was giving an exhibition over July Fourth weekend when he broke his foot. The injury kept him out of competition for nearly two years.
With the foot injury finally healed, Ratti is ready to compete again. The former national champion says it's just like riding a bike, and he is not worried about competiting again.
"I am definitely ready to go," he said. "I have been able to pick up right where I left off."
During his downtime, Ratti never drifted too far from the sport, keeping
himself busy with other aspects of the jet ski business.
He also graduated from Clayton State University where he earned a degree in Liberal Studies.
"I was able to study a wide-variety of things, including art and marketing," Ratti said.
He has combined the two interest into a couple of business ventures.
Later this year, Ratti hopes to launch Pro Rider Water Craft Magazine.
He is also working with David Drabek of Turner Television in developing a show based on jet skiing.
Ratti credits his father for helping him get into the sport.
"My dad was always around the water and he kind of exposed us to it also," Ratti said. "I always tried other extreme sports like skateboarding, but I really fell in love with being on the water and competing in this sport."
In preparation for his return to competition, Ratti has spent time working out and keeping himself in shape.
He has also stayed busy trying to land new sponsorship.
Personal water craft competitions are similar to Olympic sports. Riders perform a two-minute routine with various tricks in front of a panel of judges, who score the routine using a number system.
The rider with the highest score wins.
Ratti will try to wow judges with a flat water backflip. It's one of the hardest tricks in the sport.
Back flips are often performed with easy when riders on in the ocean, but it's more difficult when the rider is on a lake because the waves are smaller.
When on the lake, the rider has to use the wake from the jet ski in order to perform the maneuver.
It's a trick Ratti performed with precision before his injury. It was one of the moves, he used to become a national champ.
Ratti gives plenty of praise to his boss Lisa Kinchen for supporting his jet ski career.
Ratti's return to the sport begins today and runs through Sunday.
"I can't wait to get started," he said.