Hydroflight Athlete – Geoff Hulet
Hydroflight Competition Results
Along with his work at Summer Water Sports which began in 2006, Geoff continues to inspire youth with his work at various camps and events. To the right is Geoff MC’ing the Muskoka Rocks charity event.
H2RO MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
H2RO) Geoff, please tell us a bit about your background and how you were first introduced to Flyboarding?
Yeah sure, my name is Geoff Hulet, I am from Toronto, Ontario Canada. I started Flyboarding just under two years ago when the company I work for, Summer Water Sports, started a Flyboard program in Muskoka. I have always wanted to fly. I was one of those kids who never had what any of my teachers would call a “realistic dream”, and tried to talk me into other careers, but I guess I wasn’t a good listener. So when Flyboarding and aquatic aviation was invented it’s like I had been waiting for it. It’s so free up there, there’s nothing else like it. It’s like snowboarding except your creating the run as you ride and it’s better than powder, it’s air. And the conditions are perfect, everyday. As a show flyer in China, director of Summer Water Sports Muskoka Flyboard, and a member of Team Canfly, Canada’s National Flyboard Team, it’s a dream come true. Two years and over 600 shows later, I still just want to fly everyday.
H2RO) Did you find that you picked up the sport very easily or were there some hurdles from going from beginner flying to competing in a World Championship?
I think a great part about Flyboarding is that everyone can pick up the basics pretty quick. Then it’s on you to explore what you can really do on this amazing thing. I love it so much and was lucky enough to be in a position that I got to fly almost everyday and teach a lot of people to fly, which helped me understand the fundamentals even more. It’s funny with Flyboarding, everyone has a different athletic background , and it influences their style in the air. Growing up in Canada, I played hockey my whole life, and while you might think the sports are totally different there is still a hockey skating influence in my flying. Ice is almost a frictionless surface, it’s not quite air, but it does teach you body control at fast speeds and carving turns on a frictionless surface. I was a barefoot Waterskier before Flyboarding took over my life, and that is also a fast sport on water. Barefooting falls also can hurt a lot if you don’t react quickly and correctly, so that experience has allowed me to be an aggressive flyer because I am used to taking some pretty hard falls, more importantly, knowing that I can react in time to avoid them but not scared to put myself in some crazy positions really high up.
The opportunity to come to China to fly in these amazing shows everyday put me in a position where I could try to get to a level where I could compete with the best in the world. Having a team of Flyboarders here in China pushing each other really helps. When I qualified for the 2014 Flyboard World Cup it really made me more focused to try and bring my best to see if I could fly with the best in the world. That experience has only made me want to fly more and train harder, plus what’s more fun than Flyboard training?
H2RO) You and Ashton Beukers are working as Professional Flyboarders in China (since this interview Geoff and Ashton have returned to Canada). How the heck does that opportunity become a reality?
We had been professional water skiers before Flyboarding was around, and we had made some worldwide contacts in water sports. When we started Flyboarding and started to fly and do tricks at a pro level in Canada, a friend from a previous water sports show contacted us about Flyboarding in Zhuhai, China in some crazy night show with fireworks, lasers, water fountains, jetskis, water skiers and a freakin’ volcano erupting in the middle. It was a pretty crazy phone call. We had to accept the offer on the phone and had three days to leave our lives behind and move to China for a minimum of six months. It was tough, but I just wanted to fly everyday. That was a year and a half ago. I’ve since returned from China but loved everything about it. They didn’t tell us we’d be flying in front of crowds of over 80,000 people sometimes, with no warmup, every night. You just gotta be ready to rip it. It’s a rush. Every night would fire me up.
H2RO) I assume that you guys get a lot of time on the board due to your work but in terms of real training where does that fit in and how does it differ from the flying you do for the crowds?
We do get to fly everyday, but our site is in the middle of the worlds biggest ocean theme park in the world and we don’t really get to practice at all. You better be ready to go everyday, and kind of arrive in China ready to fly. Being on the board everyday has definitely made me feel really comfortable on the board especially having to perform my best every night with no warmup. It’s nice knowing you can just turn it on when you need it. That came in handy in Dubai at the World Cup, where you also have no warmup before you fly each round. But to get ready for a competition, a long set of practice and repetition would definitely help, rather than a few minutes everyday where your mixing in tricks, in between maneuvering in the air through smoke, spotlights and fireworks, to the exact spots, at the exact second as the other fliers, to be in sync with the music and out of the way of all the pyro and jetskis. It definitely helps, but yea it’s a bit different. I don’t think a lot of other pros would elect to train for about two minutes a day in the dark and try to pick up where they left off the day before. But I’m not complaining, I loved it.
H2RO) I know you saw the sweet descending spin of yours that I included in our official H2RO World Championship video. Talk to me about some of your favourite tricks and how we might see them progress in 2015?
Yea I saw that, thanks! It’s a reverse off axis 720 Indy grab down, that’s an old trick that I helped make up with a wakeboard buddy of mine, turned flyboarder , Riley Cerven. A teammate in China, he just sees trick opportunities that I don’t see right away and said “why don’t you try this.” I fly backwards now more than forward. I started doing it just to make things harder on myself to discover new ways to do everything. Like a basketball player who just practices with his left hand to better himself, was sort of what I was thinking. Now I’m trying to set up combos and execute combos in reverse the whole time. Seemingly everything done forward can be done in reverse. This has helped me work on a lot of unique setups. I’ll be going as high as the hose will take me on my reverse missile barrel roll combo. It will be nice to be in deep water again. I’m hoping to turn some single backflip combinations I have been doing, into doubles, but I need to tighten everything up. We’ll see how these last few weeks of flying a couple minutes a day goes as far as training. Just gotta send it! There really is no limit it seems, so if you think it, you can probably fly it. Only I can stop me.
H2RO) I’m interviewing Ashton too and I’m going to ask him to describe your flying style so I’ll ask you to give us your thoughts on his on the water abilities?
Ashton is a perfectionist from his Flyboard technique to the way he installs his EMK, to the way he organizes his workshop. It has to be perfect. So he works harder than most people at one trick until it’s perfect, and he can do it without any warmup, whenever he wants. I’ve seen him do some tricks and combos in practice or in shows that if he can whip out in Louisiana, he will be flying on Saturday, chasing the money. (and Ashton did just that finishing fourth). His flip combos, new tricks and EMK control is really solid. He really is one of the guys in the world pushing the limits of what’s possible. It’s inspiring. Plus, this is in an environment here in China that’s not really ideal for trying really challenging maneuvers, as the barriers we fly within are not a five percent deduction, like in a competition, it’s just certain injury. It’s the audience or the water fountains that you are going to fall into. The danger is real. So it’s pretty cool to see what he’s doing on the board, at night, in a really small area. Watch out for him when he gets to open water with a wireless EMK. We might have a day of open water training in Canada with summer water sports in between flying to Toronto from China and then a day later to the 2015 North American Championship.
(Yeah, we did this interview a while back… better late than never!)
H2RO) Besides watching Ashton fly up close who are some of your fellow Pro Flyboarders that you analyze and what is it about their flying style that you like?
Well I gotta start with the champ, Suksan is nuts. It’s like he got a Flyboard in 1991 and didn’t tell anybody. He’s just a natural, and someone who shows every pro what is possible in the air for us to try later. He rode stock bindings against Prayas in his semi final run in Dubai and won. A lot of guys put a lot of time into selecting bindings and board customizations, and Suksan kind of reminded everyone that in the end, it’s the pilot. He changed the term aggressive flying forever with his finals run, doing a missile to fix a coil that was going to flip his ski after a triple backflip. Pretty cool. He then proceeded to almost flip his ski several times throughout that epic final against Rippy in Dubai. Rippy is an animal too. They push the limits and you gotta respect it. We are all chasing them right now. I saw Callon Burns fly watching the first North American Championships in Toronto from China. All I thought was “I definitely don’t look as cool as this guy does when he flies”. He’s got a style like he’s listenin’ to his favourite tune the whole flight and adds style to every maneuver. So I’ve tried to fly like Callon, and put more of my own style into every second up there. And show how much I’m lovin it.
A year ago I thought I was doing big dives, then I saw Ben Merrell fly on YouTube and realized my dives weren’t so big after all. So with Ashton and the boys pushing me I started launching myself from the water to full hose height and continuing the arc like Ben was doing and use the whole hose. It’s freaky at first but I got the hang of it and started spinning them. Then had to combo these massive dives with backflips and spins like Ben, and like the Gavic brothers were doing at the time, before they just started throwing doubles in their sleep…lol. So I tried to showcase that in Dubai and the judges told me that my dive combos were huge and one of the reasons I moved into the round of 32 from Qualifiying. So YouTube can definitely help you to level up. My Team Canfly brothers Adrian Boucher, Chad Bell and Brody wells, are amazing Flyboarders as well, and have each taught me a little something different to add to my flying. Brody is just a beauty, and if Team Canada has a leader, it’s him. As for what these boys have taught me , that’s some Team Canada secrets. Though I’ll admit Adrian’s reverse 720 double he pulled in Dubai is one of my favourite tricks. I think Team Aquafly pushes everybody to train harder. They are great Flyboarders and you know they are on the water pushing each other at some mystical Flyboard perfect site in Texas everyday. Their “olympic training” like approach towards the sport has helped make all of us pros have to train harder, and take it just as serious which will only help grow the sport worldwide. Rippy, Jake, Hunter and the whole team are great competitors and active members in the Flyboard community. They seem to see the big picture for the long term success of aquatic aviation. But make no mistake they are trying to own the podium, and they can fly.
My buddy Aleks Skar aka ‘Baby Fly; isn’t a competition rider yet, but he can throw an arsenal of tricks that would have him world ranked no problem. He flies with me here in China and will one day do some serious podium chasing. Of course Ashton is a huge influence on my flying as we fly next to each other everyday. His excellent technique forces me to repeat tricks over and over until they look more like his, and man it can get frustrating. But he pushes me because he knows I can do it, and it’s definitely an advantage in an individual sport to have literally a teammate who won’t allow you to not reach your full potential. Who won’t say that’s good enough, even though I’m tired. There’s training sets where I won’t stop until I get it just because I don’t want him chirpin’ me all night. Whereas if he wasn’t there, I might have stopped before I stomped it. I couldn’t ask for a better Flyboarder or buddy to do this adventure with.
H2RO) I would think you must have a few crazy stories from your time in China… hook us up with a tale.
Hahaha yea it’s a pretty good time. The people here are super nice so it makes it easy to enjoy life on the south China coast. We live ten minutes from Macau (the Las Vegas of Asia) and an hour from Hong Kong (the New York City of Asia) sort of, so you can imagine we’ve had some pretty crazy nights. It’s a pretty incredible area of Asia. We work everyday but Zhuhai China is a fun ocean city with no last call, the nights can turn into mornings pretty quick. We have a big team from all over the world and everyone likes to have a good time, or they would have probably chosen a different profession. Flyboarding is also still totally new to most people here in China. They don’t have Facebook , Instagram, or YouTube so it’s a real big roar from the crowd when you rise out of the water at night, because for the most part these people have no clue what they are looking at. It’s pretty cool, and makes me remember the first time I saw it too. Makes me appreciate it even more, seeing the looks on all their faces. I try to rip it every show like it’s my last flight, and go big. So yea we are treated pretty good by everyone.
Everything is pretty cheap here too, so if you normally are a guy who would never think of getting presidential suites at hotels, VIP at a bar, like me before China, you’d probably do it here regularly because the biggest booth or bigger hotel suite in Macau costs a fifth of what it would cost back home. So yea, why not right? Foreigners are a bit of a novelty too, so we do get treated with incredible hospitality by the very nice Chinese people. Hitchhiking is also crazy normal here, which is pretty cool but sketchy, it takes some getting used to. Now it’s almost an everyday thing, from cars, to cement trucks, to bikes to vehicles that don’t seem to exist in other parts of the world. Everyone will pick you up, and even if they don’t stop, you can hop on the back while they are moving, and they don’t know how to tell you to get off, so they just keep going…lol. Every day is a bit of an adventure.
H2RO) As you continue to work in this industry what are some of the most striking things you’ve seen change since you first started to fly in terms of the public’s view or reactions to the sport and what is your vision for the future of Flyboarding?
I think Flyboarding is going big. It’s still so awesome to watch. I fly everyday and I’ll watch someone test a new hose at low rpms and I’m still like oh man this is so cool. I think most people feel that way when they watch Flyboarding. It’s too intriguing to the eye to be going anywhere but up. With the technology and products changing every year, I can’t wait to see where it’s going, and how many competitions will start popping up all over the world to eventually create a Pro Tour. I love it, every single second in the air is like a drug of pure joy. It’s fly high. I will be involved in this sport until there’s no hose, no water, and no jetski, just a board, air, a parachute in my bag, and fuel to fly around the city before my game of Zapata Quidditch in some football stadium. Why not? Twenty years ago there were no cell phones, now we are flying ourselves on water jets with a tv remote. Aim high right. I can’t wait to see where this all goes, and even more excited to be a part of it.
H2RO) Let me switch gears for a sec as I’m curious whether you’ve put in some time on the Hoverboard and if yes what do you think of it? Is it something you might consider working on so you can compete in the new disciplines at the World Cup?
Yes I’ve been on the Hoverboard when I went home from China for the summer to fly for Summer Water Sports in Muskoka, Canada, Ashton and my home fly site. It’s a lot of fun. I’m an everyday Flyboarder so after a few rips on the Hoverboard I missed the total creativity of the Flyboard as opposed to the cruisin’ on the Hoverboard. But I had a lot of fun, and just like a bunch of guys have told me happened to them too, my first flight I turned heel side too hard without grabbing the nose of the board and fell from the sky with the Hoverboard seemingly chasing me down…lol. I was fine, let’s just say I got a bit better after that.
H2RO) Finally what is one tip you could share with our readers who fly but are looking to take their flying to a competitive level?
Just understand that you have total control of this board. We all want bigger hoses now because pros don’t even look at it as height anymore, it’s just more space to create with. You’re the head of the 50 foot snake as we like to say. Use your whole body to fly, and get comfortable flying backwards early as it makes you able to stomp any trick, or flip, and fly away from anything. Realizing whether you are flying forwards, backwards or upside down, you can fly out of it in any direction you want. Remember to push yourself harder, bigger and faster everyday. It’s easy to get complacent with your flying because even practicing is so damn fun. In other sports , I don’t think practicing free throws is as exhilarating as any Flyboard run can be. But it’s even more fun to push the limits. Put yourself in awkward spots up there and then get out of them somehow. It will teach you new tricks by accident. Get an EMK too, pretty standard now if your going to fly at a pro level. Plus, you are remote control flying yourself, it’s a pretty amazing feeling. I had a remote control car as a kid and I thought at the time, that was awesome. Times have changed! If your flying for the first time, once you get up, your instructor might say to you ” ok go left!” Before asking “how do I do that!?” Just try it, just think ok go left and your body will surprise you as you start flying left. It’s like your feet always knew how to fly, they just never had jets before to try it. It will change your life, it changed mine.
Thanks very much for the interview Geoff and wishing you a bright hydroflight future.
UPDATE: Since this interview was completed back in the summer we now know that the Hoverboard Race at the XDubai Flyboard World Cup will be more of a demonstration with we believe four competitors. As for the XDubai Flyboard World Cup this year Geoff will be cheering on fellow Canadian competitors Ashton Beukers, Brody Wells, Adrian Boucher, Andy Huckle, Curtis Pangrass and Jordan Fabro. The competition is heating up and we’re sure we’ll see Geoff back in the mix in 2016.