2011 US FLOW (Flowriding League Of the World) Tour wrap up
The US FLOW Tour, presented by Wave Loch, has finally come to an end with the season ending championships at Camelback Mountain in the Poconos. The FLOW Tour set many records this year – attendance, # of competitors, prize money – but the most amazing byproduct of the FLOW Tour was the growth in the level of skill shown by the competitors. From a return to the FLOW Tour by Kalahari Resorts, to visiting old friends like Waterville and Massanuttun, to the three tour stops in four days in Utah, the US FLOW Tour continues to reinvent itself with improved purses and programming.
In the Expert Flowboard Division, Sean Silveira continued his mastery of the FlowRider with 11 straight victories to finish the season for his 4th consecutive National Championship. In doing so, he has embraced the legacy he is helping create within the sport, as he has ramped up the level of competition around him. Nipping at his heels all season were Brad Spencer, Nick Nguyen, Eric Silverman, Brenden Fenske, J.P. O’Brien, and a host of others awaiting in the wings. The level of expertise among these riders was evident at the season ending event, where in the final, a flawless couple of runs would have taken down the event title. But not one rider went conservative on us, instead pushing each other into extraordinary riding where the fewest mistakes won.
The JR Men Flowboard Division is now considered the proving ground for advancement into the “big leagues” of Expert Flowboarding. The tricks that are routinely stomped by Tour Champ Nic Sanchez, Carter Wood, Cameron Lodge, Andrew Shelton, Dan Tarapchak, and Bubbie and Theo Koby put them right on the precipice of the Expert Division. These young men are the future of our sport, and the level of riding at the nationals was revealing and inspiring, as Theo Koby put on a dominating performance to win the event over Tour Champ Sanchez.
The Female Flowboard Division provided a different National Champion for the 3rd straight year, as Vanessa Arroyo put on an impressive display of power carves and finesse shuvits to wrestle the title away from Amanda McCormick, with five straight victories to end the year. Vanessa, the 2007 and 2008 National Champion, will be a tough match for anyone coming up against her in the FlowRider Division of the FLOW Championships, as her riding style utilizes the entire ride surface while incorporating shuvits from all angles to further enhance her scoring ability.
The Expert Bodyboard Division was, is, and may forever be completely dominated by Nick Nguyen. Nick rolled off a lucky 13 – as in 13 straight victories this season, and while this writer likes to keep an objective viewpoint, Nick just killed it. Along with a 3rd place finish in the Expert Flowboard season standings, Nick is truly the most versatile rider in the game, and this is to take nothing away from Sean or Brad (who are close # 2’s). The guy is amazing, with the variety of spins, rolls, shuvits, drop knee; it is absolutely crazy. But as crazy as his riding is, there are plenty of excellent riders in this division, including the 2nd place finisher this season, Morgan Seabert. Morgan, whose mother Cathy took home the Female Bodyboard top slot, combines an elegant grace with dramatic moves, and was impressive enough to be named Rookie of the Year. She has also achieved the highest ranking of a female in the Expert division, so congrat’s to Morgan.
The JR Men Bodyboard National Champion, Travis Lodge, will get a good push from 2011 newcomer Andrew O’Conner. Andrew has been riding for only six months, so it will be fun to watch the fireworks next year between these two young men. It will be their collective pushing of each other that will produce future champions to take on the Nick Nguyen’s of the world. Seeing how Nick is helping mentor Andrew, that would be a bit of kismet – to teach the youngster who in some years time will be targeting you! Watch out Nick!
In the remaining divisions, Luigi Vargas captured the Mens Bodyboard Division, while Chuck Wright collected the Mens Flowboard season’s top slot. Masters Bodyboard winner Tracy Carroll was also 3rd in the Masters Fowboard Division, which was seized by Shaun Hancock, in a tight victory over Steve Salmon. If Steve starts nailing the shuvit, it will be a mega tight division, is that is what is holding Shaun in the top slot. In Drop Knee, Brad Spencer ran away with the seasons honors, and in the Youth Division, Drey Dennis rode with power and confidence in taking the top slot into custody.
As the planning for the 2012 US FLOW Tour season starts to progress, we are looking to increase prize money, and expand the schedule to incorporate more events located near each other, like Utah this year. We have also seen some firsts this season – Sean Silveira being sponsored and paid to ride full time by Fantasy Surf, sponsorship opportunities for Vanessa Arroyo (Maava Surf), Billabong’s sponsorship of the Asian FLOW Series (and sponsorship of multiple riders out of Wave House Singapore), Eric Silverman’s sponsorship with Duece Brand that allowed him to compete on the US FLOW Tour, and growing interest from the endemic brands that will further legitimize our beloved sport.
As the US FLOW Tour Champions, Vanessa, Nick, and Sean will represent the US FLOW Tour at the FLOW Championships, which will be going down on Oct 5th-9th at Wave House, Durban, South Africa. We wish them well in the FlowRider Division, and hope they will represent the US well and bring home the gold!