The 2016 FlowRider FLOW Tour kicked off last weekend and it was a blast getting many of the top flowboarders together at one venue for some epic riding and to showcase the sport of flowboarding to local riders, hotel guest and spectators.
As heats got under way, we started to see some good match ups on the wave, “The level of competition sure has risen over the last few years” stated FLOW Tour coordinator, Adam Muller. “The innovation and progression we are seeing on the FlowRider is right up there with other popular board sports like skateboarding and surfing” he added.
This got us thinking about past friendly rivalries on the wave and got us excited for the rivalries that are currently developing and ones to come in the future.
For many years, we have seen Brad Spencer and Sean Silveira battle it out in Pro Mens Flowboard Division, Xana Nash and Dee Spencer trade off contest victories in the Pro Women’s Flowboard or the Nick & Nick show (Sanchez and Nguyen) in Pro Bodyboard category.
Even more recently other names like Chuck Wright, Daniel Tarapchak, Andrew Shelton and Austyn Bynon have occasionally been known to shake things up as well. “The rivalries bring a lot of excitement to competition, it’s great to announce a heat that you know is going to come down to the final run!” explained Andy Haase, FLOW Tour’s MC.
As the sport grows, so does the ridership and their skill levels. We are seeing the competitors from the Youth and Junior divisions make their way up through the ranks and challenge the seasoned Pros, in return this creates friendly rivalries and exciting competition. “We can appreciate the heated competitions and rivalries but the overall consensus with the group of riders that they are tight niche looking to progress the sport” explained Rob Chalfant, FLOW Tour head judge.
Just last year we crowned 3 new World Flowboarding Champions, Jake Chipman, Nick Sanchez and Dee Spencer.
We can remember Jake Chipman, winning his first Pro event in his home state of Utah at Lindon Aquatics Center last season. We’ve seen Chipman battle through both Sean Silveira and Brad Spencer, earning immediate respect but creating rivalries with two of the top riders in the sport.
Chipman went on to take second place overall in the 2015 FLOW Tour behind Brad Spencer but won the World Championships (WFC) at Flow House Bangkok (He is the youngest competitor to win the WFC). You can be sure this made Brad & Sean hungry to get their titles back and also sent a message to the up and coming riders, that it’s possible to dethrone the kings of the wave.
Nick Sanchez (current Mens Bodyboard World Champion), grew up riding and learning from his sensi and rival Nick Nguyen on a daily basis. These guys have been teammates and travel buddies for years, but when it comes to competition, only one rider can be left on the wave and they both are going for the Gold.
Nick Nguyen always has a target on his back, the 5x World Championship winner, the only times he lost was to Daniel Tarpachak (2012) and Nick Sanchez (2015). “I’ve been around the sport awhile, I am stoked to see the young up and coming riders reach the levels they are at, keeps me motivated.” explains Nick Nguyen when we asked him about the young competitors.
Mrs. Spencer has really risen the bar in the Women’s division. Her commitment and level of riding has changed the course for female flowboarders around the world.“Dee’s riding has really progressed, this should inspire more female riders to follow her lead and strive to beat her!” stated Chalfant.
Until the 2015 season, the Pro Women’s Division was not awarded prize money, but the rivalries that formed between Dee, Xana and Austyn have helped build the women’s participation and have become good role models for female athletes. Now, we have introduced a few other challengers such as McCall Christensen who is stepping up to Pro ranks in 2016.
The sport of flowboarding is still at a grass roots stage and the riders develop close relationships on all levels of competition, including friendly rivalries. These rivalries last a life time , create stand out memories and are what drive the sport forward.