We remain slightly in shock after witnessing the Flyboard World Championship competitors and their Jetboard mind tricks! The 2017 Flyboard World Cup held in Cavalaire-Sur-Mer, France was the second Pro Flyboard event of the year after Round One of the new Flyboard Tour went down in Pensacola, Florida back in April and it was the sixth Flyboard World Cup event. It also appears to have spawned the next phase in the evolution of Jetboard freestyle. Officially gone are the good ol’ days where a handful of early pioneer riders came together for some fun under the Middle Eastern sun. More power coupled with highly trained and physically tuned up athletes resulted in each aspect of these competitive runs being taken up to a never-before-seen level. We are not saying this because one trick was pushed a little further, or one new variation made us go ‘wow’ it was literally because we witnessed runs that were faster, more technical, more unique and more aggressive than anything to date.
Playing a media role since 2013, we at H2RO can simply look on in amazement and heap praise on this next generation of athletes without feeling like our time might be up, however the seasoned Pro’s who’ve been building this sport since its inception must be feeling like they have or are about to pass the baton on to the next wave of young phenoms.
H2RO looked closely at the 2017 Flyboard World Championship competitors prior to the event and in doing so brought you our interview with Daniel Guerra (who finished second at the World Cup) and soon will be bringing you our interview with Alejo Sotelo, another member of the Zapata Racing Pro Team in China. In fact, there was a lot of new blood headed to Cavalaire to compete for the first time which contributed to making this a highly anticipated event. It wasn’t until the 720 Universals started to drop that we could fully appreciate just how insane these new athletes were. If we recall correctly, we remember saying that at the 2015 Flyboard World Cup the level of flying had finally reached an X Games type of level… well 2017 just blew that memory out of the water!
More amazing images courtesy of Liam McKenna
To better understand what this weekend has meant to the world of Hydroflight H2RO reached out to some of the athletes who competed in the 2017 Flyboard World Championship for their thoughts. Peer to peer critique is the most authentic and honest way to gain perspective so here is what they had to say:
Flyboard World Championship Competitors
Ashton Beukers – Flyboard World Cup Pro Division – 12th Place
There were definitely new competitors, including the ZR Show Team that came out of the dark and showed they can seriously compete for the podium. There were a bunch of new tricks thrown but I think more impressively guys have reinvented how to throw tricks or re-imagined what’s possible with a trick (example: 2 sets of spin superman, spin superman to double backflip. I saw a lot of 2x combo to flip tricks that I’d never really thought about trying before. It was very cool to see. I also think power, speed and height were at an all time high, a competition has never had skis running this powerful which allowed for really crazy tricks. The rule change for flipping the ski definitely encourages athletes to push it harder in tough battle rounds. It allowed them to push there limits a bit more. I also think the sport is at the stage where it’s shifting to favor very physically fit and athletic individuals that have trained air awareness etc. ( ie: the tricks are progressing and are pretty technical especially flipping on both sides of the hose etc.) I think the real athletes will start to shine and create a lager gap between the podium and the rest of the riders.
The Zapata Racing shows in China seem to be the best breeding ground for great competitors and there were a lot of really tight battles. The overtime one trick off was awesome for all the riders and super exciting and I think most of the judging was fairly accurate.
TJ Andrews – Flyboard World Cup Pro Division – 4th Place
One thing I will say is it was awesome to finally see our sport progress farther then it ever has. Within 1 year since Naples the trick list and combos have evolved so far. To be a competitor in this sport now you have to be serious about it…it’s not just flying anymore, it’s a pro sport. To see what hard training and dedication does for you was good to see! You could tell the ones that are doing that….those are the top riders. The Flyboard show team…wow. Those kids were crazy. New tricks, solid flying, and their speed was top notch. If it keeps up like this…holy cow will we have one awesome sport. It makes me very happy that myself and team Canfly did so well. Even tho we came from the time of who can flip the most I think our dedication to the sport has helped us keep up with the new evolution of tricks. Proud to say we ain’t going anywhere young guys! The old guys are coming for you ha!!!!
Brody Wells – Flyboard World Cup Pro Division – 9th Place
Some great things came out of this years World Cup. Our sport is never static and this year we saw some big steps forward in the riders and ability, organization of the event and they rolled out some new rules which brought some epic moments from the competition. The new rule is for “sudden death” – states that in the event of a draw between the two riders in a battle round, the riders will immediately get back into their boots and get into the water where they will each have one combo to throw – one chance, one opportunity. This happened between TJ Andrews and Alejo Sotelo in the Round of 16. TJ successfully eliminated Alejo by climbing to the top of the hose with a tick tock 720 into a Universal with one flip to the right and a double to the left. Was such an epic way to decide who the winner would be!
The riding coming out of the competitors has picked up this year. There have been some big steps up in talent and tricks out the water over the years and this competition was no different. With the teams becoming larger and Flyboard competitors joining forces, each of these factions is helping the riders to rapidly grow in skill and confidence and we are seeing some very unique riding styles. With the riders that we saw this year, there was a packed top 32 bracket and everyone was a threat. There wasn’t too many of the battles that I thought were completely one-sided and when it’s tight, all it takes is one. One small mistake can shake you especially early in your run, which leaves the door wide open.
Masters division – this year we have seen some competitors drop off the pros as it gets tricky to keep up in skill with the young riders progressing and pushing the limits so we’ve heard some demand for a 3rd men’s division between 30-40. We’ll get to see this division perform in Erie during Round 2 of the Flyboard National Tour, but I won’t be jumping ship just yet. There’s still ground to be made within the pros.
Rush Bragg – Flyboard World Cup Pro Division – 8th Place
So to sum up some of the flying in Cavaliere, there is a lot of new competition and some up and coming new flyers that are starting to push the bar higher and higher. We’ll start off with the Flyboard Show Team. (Which I was part of a while back) These guys are dedicated and hold jobs flying two times a day, everyday. Not to mention training early in the morning if they want. Unlimited gas, hoses, boards, equipment, all at arms length. Pretty great setup for an up and coming flyer looking to get better fast. Everyone on the team pushes each other further each time out. It’s an awesome environment to fly in, especially with thousands of Chinese cheering for you. No back to backs allowed… lol. Really impressed with what the guys have been doing since I was there! Doesn’t surprise me Stephane can’t do a backflip still…haha. With that being said both new flyers and older flyers are getting riskier and more creative trying to perform new tricks and impress the judges. There was a ton of flying that was fast and innovative, the trick I think everyone was most impressed by was Daniel Guerra throwing a Superman-Double backflip-thread the need. He somehow got back and tucked under about 3 feet of hose that was seat clenching. It was sick, he “Sent It” for sure.
Jetboard Freestyle – The Next Chapter
So what is it going to take to compete in Hydroflight at a world class level? Well, we could sit here and list off athleticism, advanced air awareness, ability to flip on both sides of the hose, fearlessness, highly technical tricks in longer more intricate combinations, and on and on… but instead let’s just re-watch the 2017 Flyboard World Cup finals between Daniel Guerra and Damone Rippy and also keep are eyes on Round 2 of the Flyboard National Tour which is being held this weekend in Erie, Pennsylvania.
We also need your help updating our Flyboard Trick Names page with all of these amazing new variations. We’ve heard people referring to an ‘Underflip’ which is that 360 flip/spin under the hose top athletes are pulling now. In order for our commentators to have a fighting chance at accurately describing this action and ensuring we aren’t saying the name ‘backflip’ for every single trick we need to continue to develop our language as a Hydroflight community. Send your thoughts on trick names and this next level of flying to us via Facebook or in the comments below.
Good luck to all the athletes competing in Erie this weekend!