2013 Flyboard World Champion
Tongthai Suksan (Thailand)
Last week the calm waters of the Pearl Qatar were whipped into a frenzy as the best Pro Flyboarders in the world put on the most incredible Flyboarding display the world has ever seen. After three days of intense battles the last one flying was Tongthai Suksan of Thailand. No one was surprised that Suksan had flown his way to the top of the podium. He flew higher, flipped faster, and delivered highly technical runs with ease and consistency. The USA certainly brought the dominant team but the golden Flyboard lives in Thailand , at least for this year. Huge props to Cooper Riggs who came into this competition totally under the radar and with only four months of flying under his belt. His second place finish was well deserved and nothing short of amazing. Each run was better than his last and all eyes will be on Cooper as we head into 2014. Fellow Team USA member Ben Merrell mixed huge tricks and a fish prop in his final run which landed him the final podium position. His signature back dolphins just kept getting higher and longer with each run and we expect Ben to be a World Champion before long. The flyer all others should fear most going into next year’s competition has to be Damone ‘Safety Cone’ Rippy. Having just turned 15 yrs old prior to the World Cup this young Texan has all of the skills necessary to de-thrown the champ. His speed, sick spins and overall energy were infectious making him a crowd favourite. FM wouldn’t be surprised if Damone and his training partner Jake Orel (also 15 yrs old) captured two of the podium positions next year.
Below is our original post:
Who will be the next Flyboard World Champion?
Now I’m not one to start making predictions and with only one Flyboard World Championship in the history books we all know the 2013 competition is wide open. The 2013 Flyboard World Cup will feature Pro Flyboarders flying with no arms, many of which have had at least a year on their boards. The progression of Flyboard tricks on YouTube is just a sampling of how far Flyboarding has come since the inaugural 2012 event. Flyers are familiar with the electronic management kit now and so all of the competitors focus can be on their trick execution, transitions, and creativity.
I think there are going to be many ‘shock the world’ moments in Qatar on November 7,8 and 9th and H2RO Magazine will be seeing many of these Pros fly for the first time there. So I obviously can only comment on the flying that I’ve been able to observe and the ‘buzz’ that some of these riders have been generating around the Flyboard community and so here are a few of the Pro Flyboarders that I think you’ll want to keep your eyes on during the upcoming Flyboard World Championship.
2012 Flyboard World Champion – Stéphane Prayas (FRANCE)
You have to start with the reigning World Champion when you start talking about the Flyboard World Cup. In 2012 Stéphane landed a double backflip which helped secure his victory and so I can only imagine how far his flying has progressed in the last year. Flyboarding was born in France and their country will be well represented by 12 amazing riders in this year’s competition.
Aaron Gould (USA)
While we’re on the subject of the ‘BIG TRICK’, the double backflip, we have to talk about AquaXtreme Adventures Pro Aaron Gould. Aaron is one of the few Pro Flyboarders who’s posted video evidence of a cleanly landed double. The key, as in any judged sport, is execution when it counts and degree of difficulty transitioning in and out of the flip. I don’t know how many flyers in Qatar will have this trick in their arsenals but the ones who do will need to figure out how to make their entire run stand above the others who also can cleanly land the double.
(May I just say personally that I also believe that after this year, with another full year for Flyboarders around the world to work and train, we should encourage Franky Zapata to participate and compete. Yes, there must always be an unbiased panel of judges, and regardless he may win many years in a row but ultimately that is what will drive this sport forward and allow the ‘Flyboard World Champion’ to be truly looked at as the best in the world.)
Brody Wells (CANADA)
With almost no experience flying with the EMK at the first World Cup, Brody Wells went BIG and finished 6th. After speaking with Brody and learning more about the amazing team of flyers he’s been training with I have no doubt that he will be bringing very solid runs to Doha. You also have to respect the determination of any competitors willing to be out on the water training as snow starts to fall.
Trey Andrews (USA)
Trey finished third in 2012 and might have won it all had he not flipped his Jet Ski in his final run. Taking riding backwards to a whole new level was part of his signature and though the front flip was something that in hindsight he may have left out it would be rad if he brought that to Qatar in 2013!
Srirang Sataporn (Thailand)
After reading about the ‘astonishing’ and ‘stylish’ riding Srirang put on at the 2012 World Cup and getting the sense that he would have definitely finished higher than fourth place had he not also flipped his Jet Ski I’m very excited to see what he brings to the sky in 2013. Check out his qualifying run from 2012 and you can immediately see the smooth, effortless style that serves him so well.
Ben Merrell (USA)
After checking out the video below I felt Ben Merrell deserved to be added to this list. His effortless backflips, fun attitude and double attempts made me think this guy could really put on a show and surprise some people. This will be his first World Cup event and I think the entire Team USA looks very strong. I should also mention Jordan Wayment, Jordan Finley and Bryan Finne are riders that should definitely be on your radar.
Stephanie Wells (CANADA)
(Unable to attend)
Stephanie Wells, the lone female competitor in 2012, finished 14th but FM just learned that she will be unable to attend. This opens the door for the other riders and we’ll be keeping our eyes on Nellie Kubalek of the United States. 2013 will be a totally different seascape for both male and female flyers and as the sport matures it will be amazing to see the kinds of moves these competitors push each other to attempt.
Bo Krook (HOLLAND)
A double backflip in a Tuxedo and flying for royalty are just a few of the unique experiences Bo will be bringing to his second World Cup. He sat in first place after the qualifying round in 2012 and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him there again. Bo is part of the FlyboardTeam and has been putting on crazy Flyboard shows in all settings and will no doubt bring his outgoing personality and flair to his runs in Doha. (NEWS: Bo is nursing an ankle injury that may affect his performance in Qatar.)
So look… there are 67 incredibly gifted Pro Flyboarders heading to Qatar for this Flyboard World Championship and like I said H2RO Magazine will be seeing many of them fly for the first time during this competition. It’s going to be amazing to watch and we are very excited to bring it to you via our social profiles and our official 2013 Flyboard World Cup page. I want to know who you think is going to be named Flyboard World Champion on November 9th? Share your pick in the comments and enjoy the biggest Flyboard event of the year!
Good Luck to Everyone!