Having now had a few days to reflect on the 2013 Flyboard World Cup and what an amazing sport Flyboarding has become, it became clear to me that what I thought of the competition there was very different from what I thought of the competition taking place there. I know now after seeing it up close. and personal. Professional flyboarding is very different from the leisure fun that many of us have on the water. In addition to the height, speed, and tips these pros use in their competitive races, there is the complexity of handling the hose, the jet ski, the performance area, and the judges.
The first time I saw a competitor turn, turn, land and fly, then fall 30 feet straight into the water for no apparent reason, I thought about what had happened. It soon became very clear that this rider had released his EMK throttle on purpose while jumping into the drink in order to quickly drop the hose into the water, making sure he wouldn’t flip the ski and avoid disqualification. We have seen a number of awesome Flyboarders either missing their turn time or performing it close to Skiing resulting in a turnaround for Seadoo and an early exit from the competition.
Sitting in the shuttle that connects the Pearl Qatar marina to the Hilton Doha hotel, I chatted with the 2012 world champion Stéphane Prayas. He had just launched a whole new trick to the world that involved flying to the back of the ski, placing a hand on the seatback, then lying flat and using his Flyboard jets to float him. – even and skiing on the water. . He was a crowd favorite, but there was more to him than inventing a new thing.
To paraphrase Stéphane said that the flyer and the Jet Ski have to work together, they are a team on the water and that his new trick was simply an opportunity to connect and show respect to the machine. He really wanted me to understand how important this relationship is to him and how the board, tubular and skiing play such an important role in this sport. This was something Franky Zapata also told the riders during their briefing. He said pilot safety is number one and he also respects the equipment as you will be penalized for dangerous maneuvers and lack of control.
I’m not sure that a sport, which is only two years old, can really have an “ old school ” philosophy but it seemed to me that after talking with Stéphane and then looking at some of the competitors who seemed focus on the trick after lap after lap until they are caught off guard by a wobbly ski or a bent pipe that it is possible that this intimate relationship between man / woman and machine is something that is not a priority all the time for some flyers. The fundamentals of any sport are not glamorous pieces but are absolute necessities to compete at the highest level. As the Flyboard evolves, it will be the movement and style between the figures that will likely separate the champions from the contenders. I’m still going to jump out of my seat when a double back flip has landed and hovered over the water, but now I’m also going to rock my cap to the flyers that nail all those niceties that only watch the World Cup. nobody could have informed me.