Sponsorship of Hydroflight in 2016
Sponsorship. The life blood of many top level athletes. Sometimes we think of sponsorship as ‘bonus cash’ in the pockets of multi-millionaire athletes who already get a massive paycheck for doing their jobs. For the majority of athletes this is not the case. Sponsorship is the difference between an athletes participation in their sport or not.
Sponsorship can take many forms and occur at many levels from Moms/Dads late night e-transfers to local businesses backing local heroes, to government support, to huge brands plastering their logo all over your car, bike, uniform and anything else that works as a communication medium. Each is welcomed but some come with a handshake and some with contractual obligations requiring a agent/lawyer to negotiate.
Being a top level athlete in any sport takes so much more sacrifice than most can fathom. Personal sacrifice, dedication, an incredible work ethic and in the beginning no screaming fans or much love at all. Now that doesn’t mean it’s not a very exciting time to be an athlete. With the ability to build your own personal brand via social media, technological innovation coming at us fast and furious and inspiring people taking absolutely everything imaginable to the extreme it is a very energized time to be fighting your way to the top of your chosen sport.
Our sport is Hydroflight. We love it. The sport is only four years old and for many of its top athletes it has been a passionate journey pioneering a new sport with minimal support available. Huge financial investments, time investments, personal sacrifices have been made by the athletes and the grassroots hydroflight community to get it to where it is today and now we are seeing more athletes being paid to fly and finding varying levels of sponsorship.
Zapata Racing Sponsorship Offers to XDubai Flyboard World Cup Athletes
Last week Zapata Racing announced a list of 2015 XDubai Flyboard World Cup competitors that is was approaching with sponsorship opportunities. This announcement was worded in such a way that some athletes were questioning if pre-competition expectations were being met. Franky Zapata clarified his companies position and apologized for any lack of clarity in the criteria being used to identify the athletes being approached.
The athletes that were listed below by ZR seem to meet two criteria: 1) They performed well at the World Cup and ZR likes their skills and character. 2) They are not currently receiving any sponsorship from an industry competitor.
Zapata Racing announced that they are approaching the following riders with sponsorship opportunities:
The Top 10 riders from the Pro Category are:
- Cooper Riggs
- Damone Rippy
- Jason Gauthier
- Caleb Gavic
- Steve Palma
- Suksan Tongthai
- Brody Wells
- Rush Bragg
- Ashton Beukers
- Petr Civin
The Top 2 riders from the Veterans Category:
- Todd Sawisch
- Dong-Won Yang
The Top 3 riders lfrom the Ladies Category:
- Gemma Weston
- Haruka Asano
- Kristen Smoyer
Additional sponsorship support has also been offered to the following athletes for the reasons stated:
- Hussein Ibbadey: For his regular social media promotion of the sport.
- Adrian Boucher: ZR admires his will to compete despite dealing with a very serious injury.
- Aaron Gould: For his help with Devin Supertramp
A Hoverboard by ZR has been offered to Mike Prince as a thank you for his good spirit during the Hoverboard Race at the XDubai Flyboard World Cup. (Mike suffered a leg injury but carried himself like a champion the entire event)
Mike Helton has been offered a Jetpack by ZR because the company feels he is likely the best Jetpacker in the world.
This does not mean that the athletes being approached with this particular sponsorship opportunity will agree to it. This is simply an opportunity many are likely now debating and negotiating.
Zapata Racing Athlete’s Discount
In an attempt to provide even wider reaching support to the athletes who participated in the Flyboard World Cup, Zapata Racing also announced that the Top 32 athletes in the Pro Category and the Top 5 Ladies and Veterans categories
(Excluding those already benefiting from sponsorship) will have the opportunity to purchase a complete Flyboard Pro Series Kit with X-Armor hose at a 50% discount.
ZR closed their announcement by stating:
As you can see, we are sponsoring more riders this year than last year, and we want to continue this momentum. Every year we will try to increase the number and diversity of our sponsored riders.
In addition to the top riders, we will continue to choose and support the riders that match our vision. That vision includes commitment, promotional activity on social networks and everything else that makes the sport grow in a beautiful spirit.
There were athletes that believed they might be approached with a sponsorship offer and were not for various reasons. It was also unusual to see the names of all these athletes listed prior to them actually signing a sponsorship agreement. H2RO will try to follow up with these athletes and confirm their sponsorship situation for 2016.
The sport of Hydroflight will see it’s most dynamic and experimental year in 2016. H2RO really hopes to see all of the amazing Hydroflight athletes around the world find the sponsorship support they need to be their best. It’s going to be exciting to see how far each of them take their skills with the proper support in place.
X-JETS – Big Name Talent on the Jetblade
As Zapata Racing grows its team of sponsored athletes so do their competitors. The biggest news on the X-Jets sponsorship front has been with the addition of H2RO World Ranked #1 Jake Orel and current Flyboard World Champion Hunter Verlander. Big names in our sport now flying on the Jetblade. They join Ben Merrell who has been with X-Jets since the summer of 2014. There also may be more athletes affiliated with Team Aquafly moving over to X-Jets in the near future… to be continued. Also listed on the X-Jetpacks website are Sandy Burns (Jetpack) and Jordan Finley.
The Future of Hydroflight Sponsorship
There are other individual hydroflight athletes finding support from hydroflight manufacturers. Scotty Knemeyer has been flying for DEFY Waterflight and Chase Finley has recently joined that team. Casey Mcelwee with Dolphin Board and Brandon Landis with Wataboard. We can’t confirm how formal or substantial these relationships are at this time but they are known affiliations.
One big challenge with hydroflight equipment sponsorship currently is the inability to expose the sponsor to the audience they wish to reach. The show/demo opportunities seem to be increasing which is a great thing for athletes but the sport also needs to see Open Board competitive opportunities scheduled so athletes can expose their boards and their sponsors to global audiences.
H2RO Magazine is attempting to help in this area by providing access to our readership in various ways. If you are an athlete attempting to secure sponsorship and wish to learn more about how we might be able to help please contact us using the form at the bottom of the site.
So… who will be first to ink a deal with GoPro, Gatorade, or [insert global brand of choice here]?
We can’t wait to find out!