DUBAI FLYBOARD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
On December 4, 5 and 6th 80 Pro Flyboarders from around the world will battle to become the 3rd Flyboard World Champion in our sports short history. One of these athletes will join 2012 Flyboard World Champion Stéphane Prayas and 2013 World Champ Suksan Tongthai and stand atop arguably the most unique and fastest growing sport in the world.
* NEWS: Franky Zapata in a recent interview stated that the Flyboard World Cup will call Dubai home for the next 10 years. The Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum is a fan of Flyboarding and so we can only imagine the kind of support and grand plans that were offered up to close such a huge deal.
Having covered the 2013 Flyboard World Cup in Doha, Qatar last year and the Flyboard North American Championship in Toronto this year H2RO has observed some of the challenges and differentiating factors that, in our opinion, seem to separate success from disappointment. Disappointment not due to the fact the competitor didn’t win but because they may have felt the judges didn’t see their best stuff. Our Flyboard World Championship Checklist looks to address some of the factors that could derail any of our 80 competitors at the Dubai Flyboard World Championship.
Flyboard World Champion Checklist
- How will I start? Practice and be prepared to execute multiple opening trick sequences.
Some of our competitors will roll in with the ‘It’s just great to be here and see everyone’ mentality, expecting to not get passed the Qualifying Round. That’s fine. However, if you’re taking the competition seriously you will definitely want to plan on making it through each round and have at least three opening trick sequences that you are totally confident in but that are also different.Nothing derails a competitor faster than taxiing out into the competition area and feeling the pressure of the crowd, peers and judges on them while thinking how should I start. Then having that indecision affect your execution and you miss your first trick…. we have watched this happen and some flyers don’t ever get back on track… the qualifying round is only 1 min and 30 seconds. When the horn sounds you don’t want to have to circle six times because you don’t know what to start with.
- How will I add style to my set up time?
Probably one of the things that currently separates the top ten Pro Flyboarders in the world from the rest of the pack is their ability to make the time between tricks look purposeful and entertaining. The standard is to fly forward, staring back at your ski and circle until you drop in to set up for the next session. There is no issue with this unless it’s the exact same for your entire run with no effort to mix things up. This proves true in later rounds which get progressively longer and provide more opportunity for things to get stale. Examples: Take Cooper Riggs in Qatar. Cooper employed flying backwards a number of times as a way to set up for his next trick while still keeping the judges and fans engaged. Aaron Gould, Stephane Prayas and Callon Burns all ‘danced’ their way in and out of tricks with long sessions of consecutive spins (both directions). This set the ski and hose up for their next session while at the same time putting points on the board. Damone Rippy had the ‘squat flip’ which began during the set up and held until landing the flip. It might not be overly technical or spectacular as we all know you need to catch your breath and get yourself set after a huge combo but employing swag, personality and a few flight variations as you set from trick session to session will only help your score and the fans enjoyment of your overall run.
- How to recover and make it look like I meant to do it.
Even the winner in Dubai will have moments where what they planned on doing didn’t exactly work out the way they’d hoped. The question is will any of us, including the judges, actually notice. One thing we’ve observed that works well is employing a swagged out dive when you know you’re going to ‘double knee banger’ the water or bail another way. Sounds easy as we do this all the time when practicing but there are definitely times during the competition when flyers start to bail and can’t turn it into anything but an out of control, off balance, type of fall. If you’re at the point of no return perhaps commit to some kind of dive to get you out of that trouble and back into rhythm.Now I know a straight dolphin dive is not going to score you any points at a World Championship in 2014 but ask yourself what would the judges and fans rather see if I miss a trick and need to stretch the hose back out to begin again. Should I just rise back out of the water and fly in a straight line until I’ve corrected things or would a couple swag dolphins or 360 dolphins get the hose straightened and keep the ‘vibe’ alive? We’ve seen competitors keep these types of moves in their back pockets just for such occasions and it helps put that last missed landing in the past very quickly.
- Make sure I don’t leave out a trick category during a run.
This is something that can easily happen especially when you practice and go into a competition with a total ‘freestyle’ attitude. Lots of competitors will just ‘flow’ their runs but sometimes this can lead to more repetition and less variety. Ask Aaron Gould who had a great run going in 2013 but didn’t include any dives and ended up losing that battle round. It’s not like we have a million tricks in the repertoire right now so be sure to cover all the bases.
- Don’t abandon my game plan.
Sure you may to need rethink strategy in between rounds and definitely you will want to monitor your battle rounds closely especially if you’re up second but what I mean by don’t abandon your game plan is don’t get so hyped that you either attempt to throw tricks much higher than you regularly practice them or get into such a ‘zone’ that you don’t realize most of your tricks have been thrown no more than 15 ft above the water. This was an observation Damone Rippy made after finishing 4th in Qatar. The majority of his run was executed well but lower than the three riders who made the podium.
- Can I actually fly at a high level for a full 4 or 5 minutes?
The legs will burn, that dogchain will knock the wind out of you, and it seems like your Quarter Final run is 20 minutes long. If you make it this far you’re obviously a fantastic flyer and have the chops to make the podium… but endurance can play a factor as to who will actually be top three. This may also dictate when in your run you throw your most physically demanding sections.
- Look at the judges categories when crafting my strategy.
The scoring criteria will be:
– The variety of figures (risk taking, technical difficulty and innovation)
– Implementation of figures (quality, success, sequences)
– The competitor’s style (position, attitude, facial expression, performance of the show)
– Competitor’s energy (number of figures, execution speed, execution rhythm)
– The artistic side (use of space, choreography, look)
When reading this list I would imagine many competitors are thinking it’s just too much to worry about… I’m just gonna fly. You’re probably right in that if you go out hit your tricks, fly your best it’s all you can do, however I take away a couple of things that can be predetermined and are not mentally draining. The artistic side has two things you can definitely control: Your look and use of space. Execute tricks across the entire competition zone (but don’t go outside) and wear something that looks good during flight. One other note is the wording ‘Risk Taking’ under Variety of Figures. We’ve observed this go from pushing the envelope in a cool way to flying dangerously and being penalized severely for it. If you just decide I don’t care if I get hurt I’m gonna go CRAZY BIG then yes you might get hurt but you also might not find the judges react the way you were hoping.
- Be sure of technical difficulties before coming back to the dock.
This is a very challenging grey area that we don’t have a solid recommendation for. On the one hand Peter Hendra in Qatar felt the EMK was acting improperly and he felt unsafe so came back to the dock to have it looked at. Apparently Franky hooked into the same ski and tested the equipment which was deemed to be working correctly. Peter was out of the competition. In Toronto Aaron Gould flew mightily for his entire run with a ski that was under powering him. He did receive an opportunity to fly part of his run again thanks to great sportsmanship by competitor Caleb Gavic but it was stated that it was Aaron’s responsibility to bring the power issue to the judges attention as soon as he noticed it in his run.
- If I’m not sure about something ask.
In Toronto the competitors voted to double loop the strap that attaches the hose to the ski. By double looping it there was less of a chance of it riding up and flipping the ski over which results in a disqualification. As a fan I was pleased to see that in the Toronto event we had far fewer DQ’s and as a competitor I would be asking and clarifying how the strap will be tied in Dubai.If there are any other questions regarding equipment be sure to ask early and often until you receive an answer. Once you’re in the water you should be 100% focused on your flying.
- Don’t hold back… much.
We’ve added this simply because of the frustration 2012 Flyboard World Champion Stéphane Prayas felt when he thought the flyer he was battling had more penalties against him then he actually did. Stéphane had made a conscious decision to not throw his double backflip during the round and actually ended up losing the round. Afterwards he obviously wished he had thrown his biggest trick. Once you get into the battle rounds it becomes very precarious to hold back your big combos or tricks. You might not get another chance.
NEW FOR THIS YEAR
H2RO has not had a chance to speak with anyone from ZR about the language in their rules regarding the following statement:
*From the QUARTERFINAL to the FINAL, The rider will have to perform the following figures: 1080, double back flip, superman and spin back flip, and will be judged on the figures quality.
We are making the assumption that they would like to see these tricks performed by each competitor in each round (Quarters – Final). If this is the case whether to throw a double backflip is not in question any more… you HAVE to throw it as part of your run. This is likely not going to affect any of the competitors who make it this far as these tricks are well within their abilities however simply forgetting to do a superman or doing what you thought was a 1080 when it was judged to be a 720 could mean the end of your championship journey.
In Toronto we launched our H2RO AWARDS with two categories: ELEVATE & CREATE AWARD and the EMKiller AWARD. Scotty Knemeyer was our first ever Elevate & Create winner and Damone Rippy our first EMKiller recipient. We will be giving these awards out again in Dubai and wish all 80 competitors all the best. We hope you fly your best and really enjoy being at the forefront of the most exciting new sport on the planet!