The 2018 Braap Werks Daytona Freeride, presented by Pro Watercross Tour started off real strong. Upon arriving on Thursday, we were greeted by massive waves and an abundance of fog! Later on in the day, we heard people describing the waves as double and even triple-overhead height waves. We’re not quite sure if they were that large, but they definitely were big!
Thursday had a high of about 80 degrees and mostly sunny with very large waves compared to the Daytona Freerides over the last few years. There was a good group of riders already shredding out there.
Friday had some large waves as well with another day of good weather. As a flatwater freestyler myself, we headed over to “Flatwater Friday” at Lake Dias, the typical hangout area for years and years of freshwater riders to strut their stuff. This event is not associated with the Daytona Freeride, but it’s become an important day for all the flatwater freestyle fanatics to ride together and test out each other’s new builds and equipment. This day can also be a good chance for the northerners to drop their ski in the water for the initial water test after a winter build.
Flatwater Friday was loaded with a lot of great riders and influential people this year such as Jason Stoyer, Chris Langlais, Chris Anyzeski, Johnny Leftly, Phil Clemmons, Daryle Winters, Tricky, Steven Coatney, Erik Brigham, Brian Sizemore, James Juvet, Toby Taylor, and Jason Bleasdale. In our view, this year’s flatwater event was double to triple the size of last years’ event. Everyone was flying high in the sky getting massive air. The “Big 3” freestyle-specific motors were in all the top-level boats at Flatwater Friday – XScream, TPE, and DASA. XScream was represented by the 1200 RR, the 1200 C4, and Tricky’s XS 1400. TPE had boats with the 900 C.O., 1105, and 1200. Chris Anyzeski represented DASA with his DASA 1200 “Ninja Edition.”
One of our favorite parts about going to Daytona is seeing new products in person! There were a quite few new releases at the 2018 Daytona Freeride this year. In the category of hulls, Toby Taylor and his riders had some T1 hulls on the water and Tiger Craft had the all-new M1 hull, the J1 (kid’s hull), along with quite a few of their relatively new flatwater FV-Pros. Krash Industries and their customers had some RTP (Ready-To-Perform) 997cc Kavinci setups. We rode the 50 Cal RTP on Sunday at Lake Dias thanks to a rider all the way from Minnesota. Tricky debuted the brand new XScream Pro Trim System, which has already been a very active thread on X-H20.
Ocean Breeze’s pool deck was maxed out with vendors this year, which included: Braap Werks, Jet Maniac, Torrent, H20 Designs, Abaco Sunglasses, Pro Rider Magazine, and Tiger Craft. Additional sponsors of the ride included: Pro Watercross, Hot Products, Rhaas Products, Hydro Turf, Cold Fusion, TC Freeride, Exotic Signs, Krash Industries, Tiger Craft, Fuel Clothing, Moto Option, Eric Malone Enterprises, Watercraft Factory, and Ormond Brewing. Each of these vendors and sponsors contributed to the raffle that took place at 6:30pm on Saturday night.
Every year from my memory, on Saturday, the Freeride holds a couple competitions. One of them is known as the “Cherry Buster”. The rules of the “Cherry Buster” are simple: the first person to complete a backflip wins! In order to enter, you must have never done a backflip in the surf before. Unfortunately, no one from the Cherry Buster competition completed a backflip. This was primarily due to one of the riders’ ski sinking and requiring help from the other competitors. It was a great show of sportsmanship watching the competitors abandon their goal of landing a backflip and in turn go help a fellow rider in need. At this time, there were a few riders in the water, so Hydro-Turf’s Mark Gomez quickly rolled his ski into the water with a tow rope attached and zoomed out to help the rider recover his ski to the shore.
Normally, the “Sickest Trick” competition also occurs, but in this case it became a 5-minute show/competition for the crowd. Here’s what Carter Brackett, one of the judges, had to say about it: “We decided to judge by the stoke of the crowd per run because the waves weren’t producing much to really attempt ‘the sickest trick.’ Overall it was great to spotlight these top tier riders and let them just have a 5 minute session.” The field of competitors was stacked with talent from the following riders: Mark Gomez, Sean Starr, Tom Scaccianoce, Ryan Savage, Bruno Jacob, James Juvet, and Abraham Hochstrasser.
The big winner of the Freeride competition was Abraham Hochstrasser, who put down a very entertaining run with many challenging tricks. I interviewed him after the competition and this is what he had to say:
The Watercraft Journal: How does it feel to win sickest trick against a stacked group of riders?
Abraham Hochstrasser: “It was my first time winning at Daytona so I’m stoked, but more stoked about the good times and fun rides with my freeride family from all over the world. I had a great time!”
WCJ: Would you like to thank anyone for getting you there?
AH: “I want to thank TC Freeride for bringing my skis. They worked perfect all weekend and I had so much fun on my Rickter MX1 and the Rickter Edge. Also, thanks to Hot Products, DASA, Jet Renu, Rickter, and Monster Energy for sending me to Daytona and free ride all weekend with my east coast friends!”
WCJ: Anything additional you’d like to say?
AH: The TC Freeride-built Rickter Edge with DASA power and Skat-Trak make it easy to fly high even on the small surf. It’s something everyone should try!”
We would personally like to thank Matthew Juvet of B-Team Productions for giving me some good camera advice after a multi-year hiatus. We also appreciate the @Sigma rep, Fred Langstaff for letting us demo his Sigma 100-400 lens at the end of the day on Saturday. We could picture adding one of these to my arsenal throughout the season. The longtime organizer of the Daytona Freeride, Nicholas Foederer had this to say, “It was the biggest turnout ever and 3 out of 4 days with good weather, I can’t complain.” As expected, Nick put on a smooth event again this year and our hat goes off to him for years and years of successful mid-winter freerides!