HYDROFLIGHT COMPETITION RESULTS
2017 FLYBOARD WORLD CUP – 3rd Place
2016 FLYBOARD WORLD CUP – World Champion
2016 FLYBOARD EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP – 4th Place
2015 XDUBAI FLYBOARD WORLD CUP – 9th Place
2015 NORTH AMERICAN FLYBOARD CHAMPIONSHIP – 7th Place
2014 X DUBAI FLYBOARD WORLD CUP – World Champion
2013 FLYBOARD WORLD CUP – World Champion
H2RO is super stoked to finally share an interview with three time Flyboard World Champion Suksan Tongthai. I reached out to my friend Daniel Kaufman of Flyboard Canada asking if he could help make this interview happen and he totally hooked us up. H2RO would also like to thank “June” Pattarasuda Siripun who worked as our translator.
It’s insane to me that it took us this long to get one of the best Pro Flyboarders on the planet properly onto the magazine but language and distance barriers can be challenging. If you enjoy this interview please consider sharing it on your social networks or via email because this guy deserves to be recognized for the incredible contribution he is making to our sport.
Enjoy our chat with Suksan ‘Triple’ Tongthai
H2RO MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
H2RO) Suksan, please share with us your sports background and how you first got involved in Flyboarding?
Before I started to play and train with Flyboard, I used to play soccer a lot and Takraw, which is a traditional Thailand sport, like a mix between hacky sack and volleyball and where the objective is to keep the wicker ball in the air while passing and shooting either in a circle or over a volleyball style net. This is the sport that almost all Thai guys like to play. I first tried Flyboard because I wanted a change, and my uncle invited me to work at a Flyboard company in Pattaya, Thailand. Since then I’ve been training and playing Flyboard for two years, as well as working there almost every day, until just recently.
H2RO) What were your first few flights like? Did you feel comfortable right away and how quickly did you progress as you began learning tricks?
The first time I tried Flyboard, I felt like it was such a cool feeling so much fun. It wasn’t difficult for me to learn the Flyboard techniques, especially after I understood how it worked. It was really easy after that. One day I was pushing too hard and past my skill level because I was still very new to Flyboarding. I was trying tricks that we’re above my skill level as a beginner, and I actually had a small accident. I hit my leg really hard on the hose because I didn’t understand everything yet, I hurt my leg so bad and had to go to the hospital for a small surgery. I was forced to stop training for 2 months to recover, but was thinking about it every day. As soon as I healed up I was back out there.
H2RO) How many hours a week would you say you Flyboard? Is your routine pretty consistent or do you increase your training as you get closer to a competition?
I trained about one hour per day, 6- 7 times a week. No I couldn’t increase my training times for the competition because I was working a lot and just didn’t have the time prior to Dubai.
H2RO) Perhaps both you Suksan and Daniel can contribute to this question. What is the current state of Flyboarding and Hoverboarding in Thailand? Being that it’s home to the back to back World Champion are you guys seeing increased interest in the sport?
SUKSAN: In Thailand the only the group of people who know about Flyboard are the ones who play water sports. Otherwise it’s still unknown. I will keep training to get better and better, and do what I can. I always need help from locals to keep me training and to help spread the word in Thailand. Daniel is helping our Thai team to get exposure here through media, newspapers and flight centers.
DANIEL: Flyboarding in Thailand is a difficult sport to grow, very, very difficult. We face two major hurdles here. The first challenge being that this is a country that has Jetski mafia, as they are referred to. These guys consist of a group of people who rent jetskis on the beach, usually have family and police ties, and they want to own the beach at all costs. There are stories of people not even being able to launch their Jetskis without paying them a fee to do so. It’s really out of hand. The amount of money the make from Jetski rentals is outrageous and they want to protect that at all costs.
The second challenge is the old Flyboard distributors in Thailand. These guys had their agreements terminated last year for alleged misconduct, price fixing and multiple violations of their agreement and have since been banned from all commercial activity. Unfortunately these guys have major, let me repeat, major power here in Thailand with ties to the army and police, and they’re not happy about being given the boot.
Side note, they used to ask me to sell Flyboards for them for 20,000 dollars! That’s a good way to get in hot water real fast.
Whenever we try to open new locations here, they hire and send (allegedly) police to stop us from operations, claiming that they have all rights to everything Flyboard. There are cases where they even confiscated the Flyboards, and handed out fines and a night in jail. The Thai people aren’t aware of any of this, they want us here and they love the Flyboard but we face these two major hurdles, which makes it very difficult to promote, advertise and grow the sport. We now have a protected location where we can operate and will update you soon with an invite to all of the Flyboard Family to come visit and train here.
H2RO) Suksan we’d love to know what you think about the progression of both your own flying and your competitors from 2013 in Qatar to Dubai in 2014? Do you pay attention to how some of your competitors are progressing between competitions?
Yes, I do. I keep watching them and their styles as well as learning and getting new ideas from watching Flyboard videos on Youtube. My favorite Flyboard videos that I’m always watching, are from Japan and some from the USA. I watch my competitors and these youtube videos to try and come up with new custom tricks and new ways to link them up into a nice flowing set.
H2RO) So your Triple Backflip was incredibly sick and congrats on being the first to pull that move in competition. What is your process for learning new tricks, including the triple backflip? How did you prepare for Dubai in terms of trick combinations and planning your runs?
About the Triple Backflip, it wasn’t difficult to do, but the real tricky part was taking risk and being brave enough to try it. I had never actually tried it before the competition. I just had it scribbled down on my plan for what I was going to do on my competition run. I never had a proper chance to practice the Triple Backflip because Daniel’s Seadoo wasn’t powerful enough. I had it clear in my head how to do it, and I felt at that moment, now or never, let’s do this! I figured I had nothing to lose so I went for it. I was so excited and kind of in shock that I just, just pulled it off. I couldn’t believe it! I have the most fun and enjoyment trying to pull off the more tricky and difficult moves, I like the challenge for sure.
I’ve never been flying as part of the official Flyboard show team before, and this was my first time. I felt very proud to join the show in Dubai. It was even more amazing because of the fact that I almost couldn’t go. It was very difficult to make it to Dubai this year because of so many different challenges and obstacles. Luckily there were enough close people around me to support me financially and morally and help me to make it to the championships. It was very close!
H2RO) Suksan what are you hoping the sport of Flyboarding brings you in 2015? Are you fielding many requests to fly for media, movies, or television?
I am definitely planning ahead now to be the 2015 World champion. I need to make sure though that I have enough support so I can focus on training. In regards to the media in Thailand, nobody here really knows that I’m the World champion, and unfortunately none of the the movies or Thai television have contacted me yet. Some friends are helping me with that now. Daniel and my managers have started to help me by contacting media and the newspapers so things will look up soon I hope.
H2RO) Back to your experience in Dubai. What was the toughest part about repeating as Champion and was there ever a moment on the water where you thought I might have just flipped my ski? I know on a couple of the Triples the ski flirted with turning over.
You’d think I would have been more rattled when the ski almost flipped a couple of times, but actually I wasn’t. That’s normal for me to almost flip the ski and I just had to focus on my run and the tricks I was trying to pull off. I saw after that there we’re a few really close calls though. (giggles) Basically, I just had to not panic, stay calm and do what I planned.
I would suggest to them to really watch a lot of videos and study the techniques of everyone else. Secondly, believe in yourself, and that you can do it, and after that don’t hesitate to do it. You need to go for it sometimes. Having a plan in your mind s to what your run will look like is also very important, it needs to flow nicely and show off your own style.
H2RO) Last question Suksan and I’m just curious if you’ve been flying on the Hoverboard yet and if so what do you think of the Hoverboard? Do you have any plans to compete in future Hoverboard races at the next World Cup?
Yes I have tried it. It’s great! Of course I’m planning to be a Hoverboard champion one day as well. I would be so proud to hold Championship titles in both sports. I like every type of water sport and my goal for sure is to one day to be the best in both competitions. It means everything to me to me to be the World Champ and I appreciate it so much.
I’d like to give a special thank you to my original Pattaya Flyboard team. They were the first team I used to work with, and the ones who helped me with training, planning, and executing all my moves and tricks for the Championships. I appreciate them all and will always be grateful to them.
I’m also very happy to know Daniel who is always looking out for me and supporting me. Thanks to the Flyboard Canadians for everything and to Franky for inventing the coolest water sport ever!
Lastly, thank you to my loved ones and all the people who believed in me and supported me on my journey.
Suksan and Daniel, I can’t thank you enough for making this interview happen. Suksan we’ve been mesmerized by your on the water heroics and it’s been so great getting to learn more about you and your journey. We envision 2015 being a very transformative year for our sport and our back to back World Champion. We look forward to following this interview up with another chat as we approach the next World Championship. Daniel… put it on your schedule please and thank you.