Date: Thu 09 Jun 2016

Sonnie Bean to fly the flag for Britain at the 2016 Flyboard European Championships

The Flyboard European Championship takes place next week in Cavalaire, southern France and flying the flag for Scotland and the UK will be P1 Hydroflight Rider, Sonnie Bean. We caught up with Sonnie as he makes his final preparations for one of his most exciting competitions to date.

Sonnie Bean showing off some of his moves!

Sonnie Bean showing off some of his moves!

Sonnie! It’s been just over three weeks since you wowed the P1 crowds for the first time with your epic hydroflight displays at the opening round of the season - the P1 Yorkshire Grand Prix of the Sea. How did you enjoy your time at the event in Scarborough?

Sonnie: I loved it! Great event, brilliant crowds, awesome atmosphere and lovely people – that just about sums up my time in Yorkshire! It was the first time I have been to Scarborough and a P1 event and I will take away some great moments from the weekend.

We heard you were popular with the locals, one person in particular stuck in your mind?

Sonnie: It’s true, I had an old man come up to me and say something along the lines of: "Son, my daughter showed me a video of you and I tried everything to get here and here I am. I've sat here all day watching you fly about on your little water jet thing and my God...I have had the best day watching you in years. I wish you the best in life. God bless you". He then gave me a hug and a handshake and then left! It really made my day that someone had got so much enjoyment out of watching the show and that he took the time to pop over and tell me.

Amazing! Moments like that must inspire you even more. You were pulling out some pretty impressive tricks at the event despite the shallow water in Scarborough! How did the new equipment work for you?

Sonnie: Yeah, I have to seriously thank my sponsor, Zapata Racing, who kindly provided me with the new FLYBOARD Pro Series - it is unbelievably powerful and comfortable and I would highly recommend for anyone looking to buy their own kit. If only they made all my equipment!

Yes, we had heard a rumour that you have had a couple of “technical issues” in the run up to the European Championships.

Sonnie: A couple! So much has broken over the past few weeks, people had started to call me Sonnie “Break It” Bean! I have had to get a new pump, a new rectifier, a new electronic throttle…the last straw was when the car door handle came off in my hand! Since then I have thankfully got my equipment back in tip top shape and have a lot of people to thank who stepped in to help me out in particular J. McKean Engineering who fixed my pump in the nick of time, the day before I fly to France!

No way! So did you manage to get out on the water at all?

I’ve not had as much practice as I would have liked due to the broken parts, but I managed to get 10 mins at the Loch today to check I have still got it ;) I nailed a couple of new moves including a quadruple backflip so I am pretty happy (Sonnie’s family own and manage The Inn on the Loch Hotel & Restaurant on the banks of Auchenreoch Loch near Dumfries where Sonnie first leaned to flyboard for the first time and where he can practice his tricks).

So can you tell us how Europeans Championship will run this weekend?

Sonnie: Well it will start with a qualifying round. Contestants each have 1 minute to perform 5 tricks in front of the judges who will then rank them according to their score. Each trick must come from within a specified category: Rotation, Spin, Diving, Combo and Other and each trick is marked out of 10, with a possible score of 50 up for grabs for perfectly executed and landed tricks. If they get 50, they get a bonus point.

Once ranked, contestants are paired one on one for the battle rounds - knock-outs. These rounds are scored on Technicality, Variety, Amplitude, Showmanship and energy.

The two finalists compete in a 4-minute challenge and the person to demonstrate the best choreography to music will be crowned the 2016 European Champion.

Right got it, so how many riders are you up against?

Up to 40 pro riders, 10 veterans (aged 40+) and 10 ladies will take part in the competition which cover over 26 nationalities – people are coming from all over the globe to compete and try and get victory.

How are you feeling as the only member from Scotland? Are there any rivals we should watch out for?

Sonnie: I love to represent! Very proud to be the only Scottish contestant. There is only one other British competitor, Andrew Hickey who will join me representing from a UK perspective. The one to watch out for is Suksan Tongthai – he has been World Champion twice before and will be stiff competition.

So do you think you have what it takes to get to the podium?

Sonnie: Well, I’ve got a couple of sneaky moves up my sleeve and of course I would love to get on the podium, we’ll see – I can’t wait!

Good luck Sonnie, we are all rooting for you.

The event will be live streamed….and takes place on Friday 10th – 12th June. You can follow Sonnie and his progress in the competition at …

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