2015 XDubai Flyboard World Champion (Ladies) – Gemma Weston
Hydroflight Competition Results
- 2016 Flyboard World Cup – 2nd Place (Ladies Division)
- 2016 Flyboard European Champion (Ladies Division)
- 2015 Flyboard World Cup Champion (Ladies Division)
Our sport is still shaken by the serious knee injury suffered by our sports finest female athlete during the 2016 Flyboard World Cup in Naples, Florida. Gemma Weston finished second in the event but during her final run she went for her signature ‘Koru’ to backflip combo and ended up turning into the hose on the landing driving her left knee into the hose resulting in serious damage. She has been working very hard rehabilitating and will be contributing as a judge in 2017.
I think few would argue that the most significant jump in the level of flying over the past three Pro Flyboarding competitions has come in the Ladies Division. Even from the 2015 North American Flyboard Championship to the 2015 XDubai Flyboard World Cup there was amazing growth. Some of that evolution is consistent with the Pros and Veterans in that almost everyone began flying the Pro Series Flyboard with indy feet but it also has to do with the incredible performances of first time competitors. Both the new Flyboard World Champion Gemma ‘The Warrior’ Weston and 2nd Place finisher Haruka Asano were flying in their first international competition. Both were amazing.
H2RO reached out to Gemma to learn more about the new Flyboard World Champion and properly introduce her to our readers.
Photos courtesy of Aquafly
H2RO Magazine Exclusive Interview with Gemma Weston
H2RO) Gemma please tell us about your sports background and how you got introduced to the world of Hydroflight?
I’ve always been a “jack of all trades, master of none” kinda girl when it comes to sports. I was a competitive swimmer in school and would train every afternoon after school and 3 out of 5 days I would go from swimming straight to a Taekwondo class and then off to soccer practice or a match. But I love so many different types of sports from snowboarding to scuba diving, martial arts to paragliding, rock climbing to mountain biking… the list could go on. But I first got introduced to Hydroflight by my little brother Beau. He showed me a YouTube video of Flyboarding and told me he was gonna get one and bring it to Queenstown. And in 2013 he started up Flyboard Queenstown.
H2RO) Please share with us your journey from the first time you booted up to standing on the podium in Dubai and what is it about flying that you enjoy most?
The very first time I booted up was once in 2013, Beau took me out on the Flyboard and I instantly loved the feeling of getting up and out of the water. However, I didn’t really get the chance to get back into the sport again until Jan this year, Beau had me landing my first back flip after only a few sessions on the board. Work commitments in NZ and Ireland meant I was unable to fly much until June, when on a break from Vikings. I went and trained with Nellie Kubalek and Kristen Smoyer in Florida. Kristen was a very patient teacher, in one session I had smashed myself over 30 times trying to land a back flip until I finally landed one haha. By the end of my 3 weeks there, Kristen had me attempting doubles. I then was off a board until the end of August where Kristen and I performed in China. Whilst there she convinced me to try to qualify for the Flyboard World Cup. So in Sept, on another break, I decided to go back to Florida for a month and see if I could get my skill level up enough to qualify for XDFWC. I found out I had qualified when I was back in Ireland and knew I wanted to get back for as much training as possible but work commitments prevented it. However, I was able to have about 5 training days in October and in mid November I flew back to Florida and the very next day landed my first triple. I remained there training until flying to Dubai for the competition. I was so nervous each day I was competing that I could barely sleep or eat. The first day was a very emotional day, with having to compete against my best friend and teammate Kristen (Kristen Smoyer placed 3rd). Flyboarding is just as much a mental game as it is physical. But standing on that podium next to my best friend was an amazing experience, it still feels surreal to me.
The thing I enjoy most about flying is that it challenges the laws of physics, it enables you to do things you never thought a body could do. Trying to push the boundaries mentally and physically. You truly do feel like you are flying, its one of the best feelings in the world. It also brings people together, I have some of the best friends in the world from doing this sport.
H2RO) You competed as part of Team PowerFly so talk to us a bit about your teammates and how training with them prepared you to take a run at a World Championship?
Mark and Sabrina Baxter believed in me before I even started to believe in myself haha. PowerFly has shown me so much love and support during the year I couldn’t have asked for better friends and sponsors. My teammates are all amazing people and athletes. Training with them has taught me so much, being able to draw from everyone’s experience and styles. Mark has a smooth and flowing style. Kristen has an aggressive style that is so awesome to watch. Ben, Ronnie and Callon are powerful flyers and they throw some crazy things I’ve not seen others do. Megan has the courage to go bigger than most. Max has a lot of creativity with his combos. And Nellie has some of the best doubles I’ve seen. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Team PowerFly.
H2RO 4) What are some of the craziest things you’ve tried on the board or have seen attempted by any of your teammates?
Both Ronnie and Ben have attempted really crazy and unique tricks during training, but I won’t divulge too much as they have yet to show the Hydroflight world how crazy cool they are.
H2RO 5) Two moves that we’ve included in our first H2RO videos and that we really love are your front barrel roll (not sure what you’re calling it) and your triple backflip. The roll was a very unique trick to throw into the repertoire and your triple was beautifully rhythmic and controlled. Talk about the evolution of those tricks and maybe what you think is possible in terms of new variations?
First off I wanna say thank you, for the compliments and for showing them in your H2RO videos 🙂 I’m calling the front barrel roll the Koru. It is Māori for “loop”, it symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace. It came from playing around with different tricks and I wanted to do something moving forward rather than a variation of a backflip. You have no clue whats truly possible with tricks until you start attempting variations. Once I start flying again I’ll be working on mixing things up.
H2RO 6) You may have mentioned this already but we’d love to hear more about your training as a stunt woman and what role your profession plays in your flying?
My background in sports, particularly martial arts, gave me a great base for stunt work. I also took a course to learn how to fall as safely as possible, how to sell a hit (making it look like you’ve been shot or punched without really being shot or punched), how to be set on fire safely etc. And over the years I have taken up many new sports to add to my skill list for stunts. Taking hard hits and getting back up again is necessary in stunts and I guess that has really helped with flying and learning new tricks. I doubt there is anyone out there that can say trying doubles and triples and all the other crazy tricks was an easy path. I would say now though that the tricks I have learnt and confidence I have gained from flying will actually play a significant role in my stunt work and other sports.
H2RO 7) Let’s talk XDFWC again for a second. Did you see anything from the other competitors in any division that made your eyes open wide and maybe had you thinking I have to try that?
The Canadians threw down some really cool, unique tricks that I’m sure everyone is gonna wanna try at some point. Todd Sawisch had amazing control over his spins. Super fast spins are definitely something I wanna work on more. To me they are visually very appealing and just as hard to control as a double/triple backflip.
H2RO 8) Sitting here now as the reigning Flyboard World Champion what are your goals for 2016 and what would you like to see from the industry next year as we attempt to grow our sport?
My goals for 2016…. I guess I would like to be able to get some stunt work over in the states so that I can be closer to the main hub of hydroflying. I would love to enter more competitions and perform in shows if they were offered to me. I would love to see more worldwide media attention, and already there are open board competitions being discussed and organised which will definitely help the growth of this sport. It seems each year that has passed, hydroflying is progressing and becoming a sport people love to watch and do.
H2RO 9) I feel I have to ask this next question because there are many in the hydroflight world that are seriously suffering from a case of the Gemma Weston Crush syndrome 🙂 Do they have any hope at all?
Oh man I didn’t realise there was such a syndrome. But if you’re asking if I’m in a relationship then no, I’m happily single for now….
H2RO 10) Back to flying, what are your thoughts on the introduction of 300 hp skis with dual impellers and 26 meter hoses? Should we be concerned about these increases?
I think with any extreme sport, athletes will always want to push the limits of what is safe and what is possible. People are gonna utilise what they have to the best of their ability. If you wanna fly at the top of your hose and throw tricks from crazy heights like Caleb Gavic you have that choice. If you wanna have hose in the water but still throw down a diverse run you have the room to do so. With the increase of hose length there should be concerns definitely, but at the same time if you have good control over the power and the hose, who knows what else could be possible.
H2RO 11) You flew on the Pro Series Flyboard during the XDubai Flyboard World Cup but what other products have you enjoyed flying and what are some of the differences between them?
I’ve also flown on a Jetblade. I love both independent feet boards. The Flyboard is an extremely light board, as a rider its great to be able to choose the direction of your nozzles, and the amount of spin you can have with indy feet from fully locked to completely independent. The Jetblade is a sturdy board that has great free flowing indy feet movement.
H2RO 12) Finally, for the youth out in the world that are totally inspired by what you and your peers did in Dubai what advice do you have for them with regards to getting started in our sport and what approach they should take in order to get maximum enjoyment out of the experience?
Anyone who’s interested in having a go needs to, and if they wanna take it further my only advice would be to make sure that every time you go out, have fun! The days I didn’t go out and have fun were some of my worst training days. Its an extremely fun sport and I would love to see more people doing it. I love watching people fly almost as much as I love flying myself…. Almost 🙂
Well Gemma we certainly love watching you fly and it was exciting to see you win your first, of likely many, Hydroflight competitions. Thank you for taking the time to chat and we look forward to seeing you a lot in 2016.
Gemma Weston – Media Highlights
- XDubai Flyboard® World Cup Selection – Gemma Weston
- Featured in ABC Nightline Flyboard Segment – June 2016
- Stuart Regatta, day and night entertainment – May 2016
- Hyperlite Shreducation – April 2016
- Limerick Riverfest, Ireland – April 2016
- Cartagena Colombia – Hard Rock Café – March 2016
- Shows for the Nanchang China Olympic Watersports for the Chinese Olympic Aqua Bike Invitational, August 2015