FLOW Tour National Championships at Waterville, Alabama
The 2009 FLOW Tour had 16 stops which began in Alabama in April, then flowed across the United States from Oregon to Florida, Plano to Pennsylvania, then flowed back into Waterville, Alabama for the National Championships.
For the first time ever, the FLOW Tour National Championships were held at a venue other than Wave House San Diego, and that made some competitors happy, like Florida’s Sean Silveira: “In the past we would do the whole tour on FlowRider®s all over the country, then in the end we were going up against local guys riding the FlowBarrel® and that didn’t seem right,” Silveira said. “This year we ended on the FlowRider Double at Waterville, and that was great. That’s the best FlowRider Double I have ridden, because the wake in the middle is just right for doing big moves.”
Silveira was one of the travelers who joined 90 competitors from 15 states, competing in 180 slots in 14 divisions for Bodyboarding, Dropknee Bodyboard and Standup Flowboarding for experts and amateurs. “We had three events here in the past,” said Waterville President Joe Warrington. “But this was by far the largest: the most competitors, the most slots, the most spectators. They started Friday night and ran heats all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday and it all went smoothly.”
In 2004 Waterville got worked over by the eye of Hurricane Ivan, and the rebuilding process took three years. This year, there was a tropical storm rumbling to the southeast in the Gulf, but the onshore flow and the thunderheads brought some shade and relief from the heat to the competitors, and hundreds of spectators.
The FLOW Tour National Championships crowned event champions and overall Tour champions. There were upsets. In the Expert Bodyboard division, perennial winner Tyler Danek found himself on a level (non-barreling) playing field, and was beat in the final by veteran rider Matt Griffin. Nick Nguyen won the overall Expert Bodyboard championship even though he didn’t make the final in this brutal competition. He was, however, rewarded for his season-long success with one of two all-expenses-paid round trips to the International FLOW Championships at Wave House Sentosa in Singapore.
The judging was overseen by Chris Granone, with Wave House San Diego’s Greg Lazarus and Rob Chalfant judging almost all of the heats with help from Matt Griffin, Curtis Lam and Dan Smith filling the third seat. They were all impressed by how the performance level is rising, from the most experienced, to newbies. Greg Lazarus commented: “I personally gave Sean Silveira two 10 point rides in the final. There was also a little girl about six years old riding stand up and ripping – Presley George.”
Sean Silveira competed on 12 of the 16 Flow Tour events for 2009, and he came to Waterville with Cody Morrow and Brenden Fenske snapping at his heels for the Expert Flowboarding overall title. But Silveira used that perfect wake on the FlowRider Double to pull his best move, a tre flip (360° shuvit with a kickflip) to win the Expert Flowboard division and also the Wave Loch FLOW Tour National Championship. Immediately after, Silveira flew from Alabama to Toronto, Canada where he is the featured flowboarder on the FlowRider Mobile at the Canadian National Exhibition: “Waterville and Wave House kicked in a lot of prize money and prizes for this year,” Silveira said. “I won $1000 for winning the division and also a trip to Singapore to compete in the International FLOW Championships at the opening for Wave House Sentosa this October.”
In the Masters Flowboard division, Jonathan Root finished second, but ended up the Tour Champ for the year. In between heats, Root and his partner Bill Berry teamed up for their Rootberry juggling act – juggling while flowboarding is an extreme version of walking and chewing gum at the same time.
After three long days of competition the 2009 FLOW Tour National Championships crowned 14 event champions and 12 overall tour champions, awarding more than $20,000 in cash and prizes. This AAA event Awarded $5000 in cash split evenly between the Expert Bodyboard and Expert Stand up divisions. Sean Silveira was awarded the Stand up Maneuver of the Year and Nick Nguyen received the Bodyboard Maneuver of the Year award along with the Flow Rider of the Year award as the biggest money winner and highest-placing rider in three different elite divisions.
The FLOW Tour National Championships at Waterville is a new direction for the FLOW Tour, which was approved of by one and all. As the number of facilities with FlowRider sheet wave machines continues to increase in the United States and around the world, the number of competitors and the level of competition will also be on the rise: “The level of everything compared to two years ago is amazing,” said Joe Warrington. “A couple of years ago we were handing out t-shirts, and now it’s cash and trips to Singapore. And the level of competition is unbelievable. There were quarterfinals and semifinals that would have been finals a few years ago, and now 13-year-old kids are taking out champions. Incredible!