Giant inflated spiky stars! Hydro card draw rounds! Throw your best trick contest! Electronic real-time scoring! “Session One”, the world’s first open competitive event for hydro flight jetboards, was held at LTS Training school in Pompano Beach Florida on February 13-14th, 2016. Hydroflight sports now have an open competition where different brands compete against each other. Session One was the world’s first, and it was an amazing success in all ways! Dozens of riders from six different brands were invited, and although the social/market/stakeholder pressures not to participate came from the usual suspect and several riders and one full team were pulled out at the last minute, we had great attendance from five different brands. The riders that came represented a broad spectrum and included the top rated riders in the world.
The cooperation of the riders and the willingness to work together and still compete to win, sets an example going forward. We set a positive example for the hydroflight world that different brands and riders can compete with each other and the technical differences in mechanical connections and jet skis can be overcome. Everyone was an ambassador not only for their brand, but the sport in general. Our biggest thanks to everyone that participated! Here’s the first video out of the event from H2RO magazine.
One of the guiding principles of X-Jets is open development of the sport and advancement without restrictions. We put our money where our mouth is, and fasttrack planned and arranged a small scale event in order to test various items for competitions, events, card draw rounds, and a new scoring system running on tablets with the results available immediately. We kept it low profile for a couple of reasons. Dean’s LTS training school lake does not have a big area for spectators. We wanted a small core of riders that had the flexibility to try new things and adapt. We knew we could fill all of the available 15 slots with Jetblade riders, however our goal was to “reach across the aisle” and get in riders from other brands to get the biggest diversity of opinions and riding styles. Finally we knew there was some animosity to open contests, and we figured it was better to sneak this under the radar than having that special someone try to throw roadblocks in the way. Ben Merrell did a fantastic job as ambassador to extend invitations to riders from the list of the best riders in the world. We had riders travel from the farthest state in the Union, Scotty Knemeyer, and one rider traveled all the way in from Japan, Ryouichi Manyama. Team Aquafly driven by Chris Vance, Hunter Verlander and Jake Orel logged the biggest amount of road miles bringing in riders and equipment in from Texas. Local riders, Cooper Riggs, Rush Bragg, Todd Sawisch and Brandon Samuels filled in some key slots and took home prizes.
The biggest element to try out was our Jaxx, a large (over four meters high) inflated object that is intended to be used by the riders as an added element of challenge and creativity. X-Jets’ desire is to expand the offerings for competition beyond freestyle, in order to engage the audience by making a more exciting visual event. Just as skateboarding advanced past a flat parking lot, we know that the future of hydroflight lies in the full exploration of the available 3D flight space. Adding spatial and visual “risks” that make successful execution that much more rewarding.
All of the scoring in Session One was done by riders judging riders, since this sport is in the early stages, there are no professional judges yet, all “judges” have an affiliation and cannot be objective. The best way around this, we think, is to give riders to tools to judge each other. Stratospheric developed a tablet based scoring app that allowed for easy entry of scoring points and computed the results immediately upon submission.
We want to thank, most of all, Dean Lavelle and his LTS Lavelle Training School location for the amazing hospitality and professionalism that never stops. Carey Whitely and Lyle Presse of Jetblade USA for the organization and coordination of Session One and judging coordination. Thanks to Bobby Vance from Aquafly for the quality photos of all of the riders. Thanks to Jill Bauer Helton for photographically capturing and sharing some of the epic moments and the subtleties of this once in a lifetime weekend. Mike Helton, Mike Thrasher and Amber Hookway for attending and showing that they are at the top of the best jetpack riders on the planet. Frazier Grandison for his technical and ongoing support, and everyone else that made history with us this weekend! Our many thanks go to Damon Rippy for committing to join but unfortunately a family emergency forced him to withdraw. Thanks to Blaine Jeffery for making the trip down from the great white north to cover Session One. There will be a Session Two!