Brad kneeling Brad and the K38 Internationals @ Worlds Brad and Fabio from K38 Italy

Jochi Pardo (K38 Spain) and Brad Southworth 'THE LEGEND"


I met Brad Southworth, affectionately called 'Bad Brad' on the race track 20 years ago. He was the judge, jury and the saviour on the water. Brad and fellow team tag artist Ronny Kling were the original mainstay of Jet Ski racing officiating. Along came others such as Paul Peloso, and eventually myself. One funny thing I have learned about my work, is oftentimes at athletic events, when I do a rescue on someone, after their recovery, they come back and want to work on the team. Kind of like what happened to me. Sorta.

Welcome Aboard
Well, that's almost how it began for me or almost ended, a horrific injury accident and Brad was there dragging me to shore. It took me a full year to recover and I am reminded every day in my skeletal structure what a fine line we walk, but at least I can still walk. It's not only a long story to explain the adopted kinship with Brad, but his legacy in some ways lives on through the work of myself, K38 and our international affiliates. Each person I train, I hold the image of Brad in my thoughts. Mentors sometimes are never known even to themselves.

Once upon a time, I aspired to be a racer, then this happened, and here we are now in 14 countries, teaching others how to save their life, other lives and to provide security measures while operating Personal Water Craft. I look back and it sounds pretty nutty coming from 1989. But not so strange today in 2009.

IJSBA Hall of Fame 2008
Brad was inducted into the IJSBA Hall of Fame at Lake Havasu City Arizona last October in 2008. Brad is a pioneer, albeit a rather ruggedly shy one at that, but don't cross with him, he gets that ire up and you have just woke the dragon! And no better Dragon to have on your side might I say.

These photos are taken from a party we had at our 'K38 Dawghouse'. Every night was like this during the 10 grueling days of work our team provided for the event safety. Not only that I got a chance to catch up with Brad. Affectionately now called 'Old Timers', well I guess we are, but it sounds strange when you are the one labeled old. Brad still have amazing stories that take on new lives, when you have the expertise and experience, those adventures turn into great storytelling sessions.

Brad and Ronny were naturals on the water. Water babies and badass abilities. True jungle Vietnam Vets, they moved as one mobile unit on the water. And keep in mind, this was in the days of stand ups, we didn't have these cozy sit downs I'm working with today. That took skill.

Chuck Koontz said 'we need someone on the water to bring in our racers'. This happened at Snug Harbor in San Diego during one of the earlier races as this new emerging sport was growing, so were the management needs. Steve Strickland, one of the original race moguls along with Brad and Chuck's ideas spun the web. They were the first generation for PWC rescue that was every applied in the world. Most people today want to take credit, but I'm here to set the record straight.

Brad is the Godfather of PWC Rescue. First generation, was the 1970's was passed on, and we are now celebrating 40 years of PWC Water Safety, thanks to Brad, Chuck, Steve, and Ronny. What he handed off we took and ran with it, in the ladder, we hit the next rung. But the credit goes where it is deserved. I am most appreciative of the spirit that Brad embodies. Brad has the history of the PWC world packed away and bears the insignia of a true caretaker. When so many people attach titles to their efforts, Brad has quietly done the hard work and set examples, not laid claims. I have made sure that his respect is honored through telling his story. Every beginning has an ending, our stories pick up where someone else left off.

Today we spoke on the phone. He's ready to dig into new avenues with educating others, so the circle has turned full on the wheel of life. A long time ago Brad and I partnered up and ran a series of races called "Inside Line Productions'. From Start to Finish. We still are not done running that race.

Shawn Alladio