2015 North American Flyboard Championship
New Rules, New Format… New Strategy?
I have witnessed a huge progression from my first taste of competitive Flyboarding at the 2013 Flyboard World Cup in Doha, Qatar to last December’s X Dubai Flyboard World Cup. The athletes have raised the bar with each competition and not just by unleashing on the world the next BIG trick but by working on expanding their trick repertoire, combinations, improving their execution, strategy and increasing their endurance and energy levels for the longer rounds.
In Dubai I had many important conversations with the people closest to our sport and listened carefully to the feedback and thoughts they had. I flew home with notes and a sense of urgency that change was needed to ensure our top hydroflight athletes have great experiences win or lose.
After gathering much feedback via many different channels I organized it and prepared to present it to Zapata Racing. At the same time I began working with the 2015 North American Flyboard Championship organizers who were just as committed as I to acting on the feedback from our community. Guided by the Flyboard community we worked hard and developed new rules, a new scoring and judging structure and a new competition format. We then worked with Franky and his Zapata Racing team to iron out the final details and I am confident that the athletes who descend on Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana on June 4th, 5th and 6th will be very pleased with our work and feel they can focus 100% on their flying.
I am certainly not claiming perfection here as it is always important to share, learn and improve as we move forward but at least I can say we listened and we took action. Bounce to this page to read our event rules and please use the comments here for your feedback and ideas.
2015 North American Flyboard Championship Strategy
We are confident that each of the three divisions Veteran, Ladies, and Professional will be competitive and exciting and so the thoughts I share below are not aimed at any one particular group of athletes but for everyone.
With so many significant changes to our scoring, judging, rules and format it really means that even seasoned competitors who’ve battled in the previous World and N.A Championships need to rethink how they approach Louisiana. Every change is competitor friendly so that’s great but there are details that need to be understood in order to qualify for the competition and once there succeed.
Again, I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details here, you can read those on our event rules page but I will highlight the keys to success as I see it.
2015 North American Flyboard Championship Qualifying Round
1) FIVE TRICKS: The Qualifying Round is serious business and you MUST plan out and submit five different tricks (single or combos) that:
A) Exceed a base point total of 28 (refer to the Trick Value sheet on the event rules page)
B) Are difficult enough to produce a score that gives you a chance at the Top 32.
C) Are not so difficult that you can’t stomp them 95% of the time. (add nerves to that and the percentage goes down)
1 minute and 30 seconds is not a long time to set up five tricks. My math ain’t great but I’m getting 18 seconds per trick. So practice with a timer and ensure that you can set up and execute in the allotted time. One or two extra circles to set yourself could make all the difference. So yes you can throw your five tricks in any order you wish but I myself would still choreograph the run. I would do that to ensure I don’t have a brain fart and forget whether I did or didn’t do a trick and also to perfect the flow between tricks so I make it as easy as possible to transition thus saving time and not feeling as rushed.
* Bonus: Don’t go so crazy with your 30 second warm up that you end up in recovery mode when the double horn blast fires and your real time starts.
H2RO LEAD SPONSOR
EVERYONE VERSUS EVERYONE… EVERY ROUND!
No more saying… I can’t believe these two guys have to battle so early in the competition. We are moving to a points system so the entire field battles it out in an attempt to put up their best score with the top half moving on to the next round. No more holding back as you size up a single battle round competitor. Louisiana will be our first opportunity to really see how the top Pro Flyboarders in the world compare to each other from round to round. Yes your Qualifying Round is very important but it will not lead us down a path where we have to witness two top five riders in the world take each other out early.
The new judging and scoring system will also create a much more transparent experience for the competitors as we all begin to better understand how runs are scored and what value is being put on what trick or combo. (See Trick Values listed at the bottom of our Rules Page) So here are few more things to think about once you’re past the Qualifying Round:
A) Repetition will kill me. Competitors you only receive points for a trick twice in a round. This means that your third, fourth and fifth single backflip without comboing them differently are a waste of your time. I know this will be a big challenge for some competitors, even guys who have flown in our previous championship events, because ever since Franky first flew on his new invention the backflip was the trick to learn and master. This is still the first real trick 99% of recreational flyers put the time in to learn but in 2015 at the professional level riddling your competitive run with standalone single backflips will be the fastest way to end your event.
B) How high am I actually? I have heard this a number of times from guys who watch their video footage back and say wow, I thought I was much higher than that on that trick. Because the height at which you execute certain tricks is an element that affects every judge both on the Trick Scoring side and Overall Impression. If you nail your run but your competitors are flying 10 or 12 feet consistently higher than you the scoring may not go in your favor. The other area that height affects is ‘cleanliness’ of your landings. Judges have been very forgiving to date with boards hitting the water on landings but in Dubai everyone, flyers, spectators and judges started to really appreciate and value flying out of tricks cleanly above the water’s surface.
C) Speed and Aggression verus Risk Taking. Since the 2013 World Cup Franky’s pre-event speech about not flying ‘dangerously’ was interpreted as not taking risks but then we learned what that really meant was flying aggressively scores really well if you’re deemed to be in control. If your EMK control is all over the place and your unsteady between and during tricks then taking risks is judged to be dangerous and the scoring represents that. However, when we saw two very evenly matched athletes battle head-to-head it was the speed and aggressiveness with which one of the competitors flew that moved them on to the next round.
What this says to me is that your trick execution is very important but if your transitions and trick set up feel ‘casual’ you may see a lower score than a competitor who is landing similarly difficult tricks but is ripping in between them. I guess this is where stamina and strength come into play.
D) How to Maximize Your Never-before-seen trick. First as written in the rules:
If a flyer is knowingly bringing a new trick to the competition, he or she may request a confidential meeting with the judges via the “Flyer Liaison” (Flyer Liaison will be identified no less than 30 days before the competition) to explain the trick and to have a point value pre-assigned prior to the competition. This will allow the judges and the flyer, in conjunction with, other input if needed, to determine the trick’s value prior to it being shown in competition. This meeting is to occur prior to the qualifying run and must be requested when the “Five Trick Cards” are being turned in. If the flyer chooses not to disclose the trick, the flyer then by proxy, accepts the point value assigned by the judges during their run and forfeits their right to appeal based on this particular element.
So, if you plan on unleashing your 1080 to Double Dragon combo on us (not a real name by the way) and want to ensure the judges have a full appreciation for the complexities and difficulty of the trick you are going to want to request the confidential meeting when submitting your five trick card. Make sure you get a chance to work through the tricks point value with them and then you’ll at least know how beneficial your new trick could be to your run.
So, with all that said good luck to each and every competitor. I am really looking forward to seeing you all fly and bringing your hard work back to H2RO Magazine for our global community to celebrate and share.
Watch for an upcoming article contributed by event organizer Gretchen Vance regarding rider safety and equipment plus H2RO will be releasing more videos to set the stage for Shreveport. Also take a moment to look over our Flyboard Trick Names page and I’m sure you’ve likely got some new names to share with us in the comments.
See you in 31 days,