X DUBAI FLYBOARD WORLD CUP 2014
On December 3rd, 2014 the Novotel Al Barsha Hotel lobby began crawling with Flyboard t-shirts as Pro Flyboarders from around the world descended on Dubai for the X Dubai Flyboard World Cup 2014. This was the third Flyboard World Championship event with the previous two having been held in Doha, Qatar. The event site was at SkyDive Dubai which was also playing host to the Dubai International Parachuting Championship. There was excitement on the water and in the air all of which contributed to the overall energy and vibe of the venue.
The sport of Flyboarding continues to blow up around the world and this year our event saw 90 competitors from 29 countries boot up with the hopes of landing on the podium of their respective category. For the first time, a Veterans category (40 yrs +) and a Ladies category competed alongside the Professional division. The level of flying in each category was extraordinary and served as further proof of the reach and popularity of our sport. Franky Zapata, his wife Krystel and the entire Zapata Racing staff were once again incredibly generous both with their support of the athletes and media as well as with their time ensuring all photo, interview and social opportunities were met with smiles and positivity.
My videographer Robin Frigeri and I arrived on Thursday morning to great energy and activity on the waterfront. Vintage cars rolled past as Flyboard Iran entertained on their jumping stilts bouncing and flipping for the fans. After setting up our cameras just to the left of the judges tent our eyes shifted skyward to the professional parachutists. It was amazing to see the speed at which they would race towards the earth only to pull up at the last second, skim across the waters surface and then fly as far as possible onto the sandy landing strip where more than a few made less than graceful landings. After a few selfies with camels and the Dubai skyline in the background it was time to get serious.
H2RO was in Doha, Qatar for the 2013 Flyboard World Cup and in Toronto for the Flyboard North American Championship and as we expected the media coverage increased for Dubai. Flyboard Malta and Hydrosports Network each delivered live streams while a number of film and TV crews raced around covering every nuance for their respective projects and stations. This year we also saw the introduction of a new iPhone App that Zapata Racing and Flycaptain produced to gather altitude, G-Force, speed and other data from competitors. The iPhone is docked in a special clip that is attached between the boots and will help to educate us as to exactly what these Pro Flyboarders are experiencing during their runs.
Unlike my last two competitions I went into the X Dubai Flyboard World Cup feeling less in awe of seeing Pro Flyboarding live and up close and more in tune with the finer details that separate the great runs from the good. Prior to the event I had watched several videos of insane combos that had raised my expectations and like every other fan of Flyboarding the idea that a Triple might possibly go down had me buzzing even before the first competitor took to the water. Daniel Kaufman took his MC’ing to a new level evangelizing our sport and turning onlookers into fans. He battled through a few technical challenges yet never once wavered from the spirit and enthusiasm the Flyboard Family prides itself on. Now having had a few days to take in what went down in Dubai I realize the event saw some great innovation, Suksan did make history with his Triple however a few of the really insane trick combinations proved too difficult on this stage.
Let’s have a look at the first Flyboard Triple Backflips landed on video by 2014 World Champion Suksan Tongthai
X DUBAI FLYBOARD WORLD CUP TRICK INNOVATION
We saw a number of very cool new tricks introduced during the competition and we’ve gathered the ones we can remember into this list with video examples. I’m sure there were more so if you recall any please share in the comments. The trick names may change as we hear from the creators but for now we’ve got:
- Suksan Tongthai – Triple Backflip
- Jun Osada – Front Twist
- Stephane Prayas – Bonsai Flip
- Qjao Xiao – Board Grab Double
- Cooper Riggs – Infinity Flip
- Ronnie Feise – Missile
- Callon Burns – Missile 1 & 1/2
I noticed that there were few competitors employing aggressive ‘dance’ sections in their routines. This bi directional series of spins while maintaining forward speed that we have seen from Aaron Gould (Flyboard 2013 Championship and Flyboard North American Championship) Callon Burns and Stephane Prayas. I guess when you introduce new tricks to your run something has to make room for them. There is certainly a lot to be excited about considering there are 1080 – Double – 720 – Double combinations floating around Texas and now that we have video of the Triple everyone will be breaking it down, studying it and many more competitors will be adding it to their arsenal.
After it was all said and done here are the top four Flyboard competitors in each division.
Photo courtesy of www.LiamDMcKenna.com
1. Suksan Tongthai (Thailand, World Champion 2013)
2. Damone Rippy (USA, North American Champion 2014)
3. Jake Orel (USA)
4. Stephane Prayas (France, World Champion 2012)
1. Da-Yeob Kim (South Korea)
2. Stephanie Wells (Canada)
3. Yolanda Baker (USA)
4. Claudia Osternaud (France)
1. Laurent Calliot (France)
2. Martin Von Stedingk (Sweden)
3. Dong-Won Yang (South Korea)
4. Antonio Martinez-Yague (Spain)
*The Best Newcomer award was given to Team Aquafly’s Hunter Verlander, (USA) who was also the youngest competitor (15 years old). This young man is already a force to be reckoned with and H2RO is excited to follow and share with you his ascent to the top of our sport.
X Dubai Flyboard World Championship Top 32 Ranking – Pro Division
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Another competition in the books means we will be working to update our H2RO Hydroflight World Rankings prior to the new year.
Check out who took home our two H2RO Awards
Have a look at our
Top Eight X Dubai Flyboard World Cup Competitors
X Dubai Airshow – Lindsay McQueen gets lit up!
The opportunity for us to share the X Dubai Flyboard World Cup 2014 with all of you would not have been possible without the generous support of our event partner and sponsors. H2RO will be breaking down everything from the Jet Ski flips, the new tricks and the epic battles that could have gone either way (we’re looking at you Jake Orel) over the coming weeks. Big thanks for everyone who reads us! You are on the cutting edge of the hottest extreme sport on the planet and we thank you in advance for turning friends, colleagues and strangers in the street from people who say ‘ that jetpack thing under your feet ‘ to fans excited about the next Pro competition.
Zapata Racing Teaser Video