Hydroflight Athlete – Ashton Beukers
Hydroflight Competition Results
2015 North American Flyboard Championship – 4th Place
Select Photos Courtesy of Huck Media
Working on H2RO I have a chance to learn quite a bit about the people that make up the world of Flyboarding and certainly many have very interesting stories about how they came to be involved in the sport and how it has change their lives but Ashton Beukers is a Canadian Pro Flyboarder that really has had his world flipped upside down by hydroflight. If you don’t know what he’s been doing in China I’ll let him share it in the interview below plus check out a taste of his flying in this Team Canfly video from the 2015 XDubai Flyboard World Cup and highlights from the 2015 North American Flyboard Championship.
H2RO MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ASHTON BEUKERS
H2RO) Ashton, what is your sports background and how has it played a role in you excelling at the sport of Flyboarding?
As a kid growing up I was always really active and loved playing lots of sports in school. My family always had a cottage on the lake and so for as long as I can remember I’ve spent my summers swimming in the lake and hanging out on the dock. As I got older I became more and more interested in waterskiing and eventually all aspects of Show skiing. I think it was in these early years that I developed my love and passion for watersports.
I was first introduced to the sport during summer 2013 while working for Summer Water Sports, North America’s largest water sports company in the heart of Canada’s cottage country. It was super exciting for our team to get our first Flyboard, however with a team of 70+ competitive show skiers and a very busy and short season it was extremely difficult to get to try the board, let alone practice on it. It was only until about halfway through the summer that I finally got to go for a rip. My first flight was just under 2 years ago and I still get as fired up and stoked to get back out there and improve as I did that first time.
That’s a question I still ask myself every day. …ahh I think it’s just like anything it obviously took a lot of hard work and required sacrifices, also knowing the right people, and of course a bit of luck to be in the right place at the right time, but I love my job here in China and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can’t give away to much but basically I perform in 1-2 shows a day in the world’s largest ocean theme park. We perform in the centre of the park in a man made lagoon and perform alongside other waterski acts, pyro jet skis, as well as a concert size, laser , light, water fountain, fire, and pyro show, and to top it all off it’s at night. Although the entire show is extremely complex and quite crazy our particular role is quite simple. We Flyboard in synchronicity with other riders for 2 sets totaling just under 2 minutes, with no warmup and no practice EVER!. Some of our biggest shows have produced audiences of over 80,000 people which as you can imagine is a pretty wild experience.
H2RO) Now our H2RO World Rankings have been updated and we have you ranked 31st in the world, what was your experience like in Dubai and what did you take away from the event that will help you climb up the rankings in the near future?
I’d like to start by saying I had one of the most amazing experiences in Dubai and it was something I will remember forever. My first competition was a huge learning experience and I definitely learned a lot about the sport as well as what I need to do to improve in the future. The biggest mistake I made was not recognizing the importance of using the EMK as well as being able to operate it smoothly. I quickly realized if you want to be competitive in this sport, you need to use the same system that the best rider’s are using. I would also like to quickly mention I was quite impressed and honestly mind blown at the variations of tricks and progression that was demonstrated by the champ Suksan Tongthai during Worlds. He showed a new side of what is possible on a Flyboard and just how far you can truly push the ski and equipment. With horse power, hose length, and rider skill continuing to improve it could be a very interesting and exciting time to be apart of this sport.
H2RO) Let’s talk tricks for a minute. You’ve got some impressive backflip variations and I’d like you to just walk us through your current repertoire of moves. What unique variations have you been working on and perhaps share what the most difficult trick to date has been to master?
Ya for sure, I definitely focus most of my time working on my backflips and variations in and out of the flip. The backflip for me has now become effortless to perform and fairly easy to learn new variations however I can’t stress enough how many hours I’ve spent analyzing it and practicing it over and over and I think I’ve probably rebuilt my setup/technique five or six times to get it where it is today. Saying that, I now have quite a few variations such as 360/720/1080-flips, grab 720-flips, grab flips, laid-out flips, side flips. I would have to say though my favourite trick is a big high laid out backflip stomped right at the water cause there super fun to throw and look awesome. Finally the hardest trick to master would have to be the infamous double backflip which I can now say I have in my trick list. I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve mastered it but come next competition I guarantee you will see it.
H2RO) We’ve discussed you contributing some of your technical knowledge to H2RO and so I’m wondering if there is one equipment tip you might share that might save people some serious headaches?
Ya for the last year and a half I’ve been performing while also maintaining our show boards here in China as well as 3 other units for Muskoka Flyboard at home. I’ve definitely had some serious headaches of my own in that short time but can confidently say H2R0 Magazine has always been THE place for Flyboard info or technical tips. Right from the beginning I’ve always followed H2RO Magazine and can’t stress enough what an awesome job you do Blaine and how accurate and helpful the information can be. I would love to also be able to hopefully contribute some technical tips in the future. If I had to pick just one tip for now, a super easy and fast way to save your equipment and improve your flying would be to double loop your hose leash. I know this has been a topic of discussion amongst pro’s for a while now but in my opinion it’s something that every Flyboard owner or rider should do and can do for free and easily so why not. It protects valuable equipment while allowing you to progress your riding further and safely. I’m sure this is obvious to most pros now but for anyone who has not yet tried the double loop, I strongly recommend you give it a try regardless of skill level I think you’ll notice a difference.
H2RO ) I asked Geoff to describe your flying style so I’d like you to give us your thoughts on Geoff’s on the water abilities?
Geoff is a very unique Flyboarder with a lot of style and movement. Watching him you’ll see a lot of quick spins and grabs both spiraling up and down. He also has some of the biggest back dolphins I have ever seen. What I find very impressive about Geoff and it’s something that hardly anyone knows is he actually learned and perfected his insane dives in a concrete bottom lagoon no deeper than 6 feet. And yes that is not a typo and yes he has hit the bottom countless times and yes he is a little crazy but there’s not too many guys I know that love this sport as much as him. Geoff has been working a lot on his backflips to tighten up his technique and consistency. He is throwing reverse 720 backflips now but if he wants to throw a double he needs to tighten them up. He has been actively working on this and I’m excited to see where he could go with it. I think if he can get the actual flip as tight and fast as he wants, he could produce some very interesting unique backflip variations in the future that could get him to the podium.
H2RO) I’m curious what your families and friends think of you on the other side of the planet with jets of water rocketing you skyward on a daily basis?
Hahahah, yeah it’s definitely been a crazy experience right from the start. It’s actually been really hard to explain to people what I do everyday because of how extreme and crazy it all sounds, and because of how new Flyboarding is as a sport but I think that’s also why I love it so much. Perfect example, most of my friends including my whole family had never seen me actually Flyboard until about a year into my professional show career. This obviously made my Mom super nervous for a while but luckily I have amazing friends and family back home and a really supportive network of people who have helped me along the way and that’s made it really easy for me to keep pushing it.
H2RO) Have you and Geoff thought about competing in the upcoming North American Flyboard Championship in June? We have made significant changes to the format, scoring and rules so just curious what you think and what your vision is for the future of our sports?
Absolutely, both Geoff and myself hope to be actively involved in the sport as well as compete for as long as we possibly can. With that said it was very hard for us to get the time off right now due to contracts but luckily thanks to a great team we will now be attending the NAFBC. I have definitely noticed significant changes to the scoring and rules and honestly I couldn’t be more excited. I feel the new format is extremely advantageous for my flying style and I also think it’s great for the sport and will push it closer to what I sort of imagined it could be. Further more I feel the scoring system creates transparency between riders and reduces any political bias or confusion, I also think the trick/point allocation is very accurate to how I personally would judge difficulty and entertainment value. I’m sure there will still be some room for improvement as our sport is still so new but I’m very excited to see how this progresses.
H2RO) Switching over to another very cool ride courtesy of Zapata Racing what do you think of the Hoverboard? Have you had a chance to fly it and is it something you might consider competing on in the future?
Actually I have not had the pleasure of trying it but plan to give it a go soon as I get the opportunity. I think it’s a great add-on to the Flyboard system. I would like to get comfortable enough to be competitive and would definitely love to compete in that division as well. My personal opinion though without having tried it, until the variety of tricks increase I believe it will stay more of a novelty attachment than a competitive watersports apparatus.
H2RO) Finally, just leave us with one more tip this time something we can remember when we’re out flying and trying to move from the basics to a more intermediate/advanced level?
Ya for sure, for the beginner/intermediate rider the best tips I could give would be to practice and learn hose control right from the start to avoid creating bad habits as it becomes extremely important as you progress. Secondly, developing confidence and strong stable board movements and control are also key. Finally for those trying to learn more advanced flying particularly learning the backflip. My three main tips in order would be
- Throwing your head straight back and looking for the water
- Don’t break at the hips but try to push your hips forward through the flip
- Lastly as you get better and quicker try to bend more and more at the knees while keeping your core strong and flexed.
Ashton, thanks very much for taking the time to chat with H2RO and really looking forward to seeing you fly in a few weeks in Louisiana!
UPDATE: This photo is from Ashton’s last show in China. He and Geoff have returned to Canada… for the time being.
Check out a couple of great videos courtesy of Huck Media. These give you a great look at both Ashton and Geoff Hulet who’s interview we’ve also completed and will be publishing very soon. Looks like the opportunity in China is bringing the best out of all involved and uniting a very cool, unique group of individuals from around the world.