Flyboard European Championship 2016
The 2016 Flyboard European Championship was the first European championship ever held. It was located in Southern France just a couple of hours drive from Nice. The town itself, Cavalaire-sur-Mer was most pleasant, though quite a quiet place mainly because the tourism season was only just about to start. The event and especially Franky Zapata’s Flyboard Air demonstration attracted a large audience down to the breakwater where they soaked up more than enough sun and enjoyed this memorable and unique entertainment.
Originally I was only supposed to take footage of the event, but a couple of days after the registration closed I received a request to participate in the competition. The ladies division needed one more competitor to complete the battle round format and so after accepting the invitation I was desperate to put in some time on the Flyboard Pro Series board, get used to its independent feet and get comfortable flying with the EMK (electronic management kit or wireless throttle controller).
I was able to complete two of the three missions prior to heading to France from Finland. As I boarded my flight I was slightly nervous but mainly full of excitement about what I would witness from the Pro Flyboarders and my opportunity to capture their skills on video.
Flyboard European Championship – Qualification Rounds
Similar to the Flyboard World Cup format, the Qualification Round required each competitor to deliver five tricks in one minute. Basically the judges were looking for athletes to execute one dive, spin, flip, slalom/superman and one combo. Not all the competitors followed the preferred format which led to some surprises in this round’s results.
As is the challenge at every Hydroflight competition, keeping the jet skis running smoothly can be difficult and due to some ski issues the Pro Riders qualification round extended into Day 2 of the event.
Qualifications saw only a few Triples thrown due to the fact they were not required on the compulsory trick list. Sweden’s Oscar Schönberg’s Triple looked nice and clean but unfortunately no points were awarded.
“I had about an hour of training in Zanzibar one and a half months ago on the Flyboard Legend and then back home only three training sessions which equaled to maybe a total of 40 minutes of practice” Oscar said.
Even with no points received Oscar was still happy about the Triple, because it was only his second attempt ever doing it.
Flyboard European Championship – Battle Rounds
The Round of 32 saw the top five competitors from the Qualification Round Jeffrey Gazzola, Beau Weston, Sonnie Bean, Ashton Beukers and Steve Palma receive a bye automatically moving them on to the round of 16. Similarly Gemma Weston the top Qualifying female moved directly through to the Round of 4 of the Ladies Division.
There were no big surprises as the top eight pros from qualifying all found their way into the quarter finals.
Flyboard European Championship – Finals
Picking up right where she left off in Dubai, the current Ladies Flyboard World Champion Gemma Weston dominated her division from beginning to end. Honami Yamaguchi put herself on the Pro Flyboard map with an impressive second place finish. Her sunny style and disciplined doubles proved enough for the podium. The most highly contested positions were for third and fourth between French athletes Océane Corbet and Solène Pandelès. Corbet was successful in securing her first Pro Flyboarding podium.
The Veteran’s division offered some dramatic moments. The battle for third place was exciting with Simon Desira defeating Anthony Martinez but it was during the finals between Robert Jaszczold and Dong Won Yang where we were reminded this can be an extreme sport. As Robert was attempting to land a backflip he became tangled with the hose resulting in a broken leg. Everyone at H2RO is sending our best wishes to Robert for a speedy and full recovery.
The Pro Division could have likely seen a very different podium had it not been for some untimely jet ski flips. The battle round between Steve Palma and Ashton Beukers was settled without needing to count the points as Beukers flipped ski ended his dream of winning his first event. Definitely one of the favourites going into this competition we will be connecting with Ashton to get his thoughts on the event and his plans for the remainder of 2016.
Beau Weston made a name for himself in his first Pro Flyboarding competition pushing two time Flyboard World Champion Suksan Tongthai to the limit before the Thai phenom eventually moved on. Weston finished in very respectable sixth place.
We’ve all come to learn that there is no off switch for Tongthai who loves to fly aggressive and go as big as possible at all times. This is not the most strategic approach but certainly always makes him a fan favourite. Suksan was the only competitor to land the biggest trick in the game a Quad backflip. Unfortunately in both the semi-finals and his third place face off with Ibrahim Hussein Tongthai flipped the jet ski keeping himself off yet another podium that his skills certainly should have secured for him.
The finals saw the UK’s Sonnie Bean battle France’s own Steve Palma. Both riders took their flying up a level landing multiple Triples but judges were forced to whistle Palma’s run dead with a minute left after he flipped himself out of the designated competition area.
Not knowing if Steve’s mistake had disqualified him or not Sonnie Bean took to the water for his final run intent on leaving no doubt in the judges and crowds minds that he was in championship form.
So, with all that excitement you might be wondering what happened to me out there? Me, the rookie competitor who has only flown about 15 times, doesn’t have the ability to dive properly and could have easily had a panic attack looking at the EMK, 300 horse power Sea Doo as I booted up in totally different bindings than what I’m used to on a really stiff Pro Series board.
Anyway, here I am still in one piece and full of excitement to get on the Flyboard again with the EMK and practice. Big thanks goes out to all the athletes and their wonderful supportive attitude. Hydroflight has an amazing atmosphere around it no matter if you win the whole competition or just set new personal bests for yourself.
See you at the next one!
H2RO EVENT PARTNER
H2RO EVENT SPONSOR
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FLYBOARD EUROPEAN CHAMPION
SONNIE BEAN (UK)
Sonnie Bean has been on the rise since his great showing at the 2015 XDubai Flyboard World Cup. His move to the Pro Series board seems to have paid off with this victory at the first ever Flyboard European Championship. Some serious hose art on display below from the Champ.
FLYBOARD EUROPEAN CHAMPION – VETERAN’S DIVISION
DONG WON YANG
FLYBOARD EUROPEAN CHAMPION – LADIES DIVISION
Flyboard European Championship 2016 – THE RESULTS
1. Sonnie Bean
2. Steve Palma
3. Hussein Ibbadey
1. Gemma Weston
2. Honami Yamaguchi
3. Oceane Corbet
1. Dong Won Yang
2. Robert Jaszczold
3. Simon Desira
And the results of top 8 battle rounds @Flyboard European Championship / Pro Riders (in running order)
Hussain Ibbadey (winner)
Results of Qualification Rounds for PRO RIDERS:
1. Jeffrey Gazzola
2. Beau Weston
3. Sonnie Bean
4. Ashton Beukers
5. Steve Palma
6. Bo Krook
7. Suksan Tongthai
8. Ibrahim Hussain
9. Peter Hendra
10. Andrew Hickey
11. Sergey Philippov
12. Alberto Leceta
13. Eduard Kanevski
14. David Soldato
15. Niels Van Uffelen
16. Oscar Schönberg
17. Alexander Khomov
18. Anthony Gillet
19. Manea Almarzooqi
20. Fernando Spinelli
21. Romain Stampers
22. Sebastien Steve Caruso
23. Denis Kornilovich
24. David Perreira
25. Victor Gonzales
26. Daniel Garcia
27. Michael Stasek
Looks like the new blood is ripping in France. Congrats to Jeffrey Gazzola and Beau Weston for leading the charge.
Results of Qualification Rounds for LADIES:
1. Gemma Weston
2. Honami Yamaguchi
3. Océane Corbet
4. Solène Pandelès
5. Elena Vera
6. Petra Wijnker
7. Elsa Pankkonen
BATTLE ROUND PAIRINGS
Good luck to everyone competing!
H2RO Flyboard European Championship Sponsorship
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Enjoy a look at last year’s XDubai Flyboard World Cup and get ready Cavalaire-sur-Mer… it’s coming!