Every year in January, over Martin Luther King weekend, the Daytona Freeride takes place in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. This event has become one of the most popular and recognized event in the PWC freeride community. This event was founded as a surf event, but in recent years, there has been another segment that has been rapidly growing. That segment has become known as “Flatwater Friday”.
Several years ago, (at least as far back as 2010), a few guys decided to take a short trip over to Lake Dias in nearby Deland for a quick tuning session. This started out as a relatively small group of guys, with big motors and short, light carbon hulls. For the most part, these boats were considered “Flatwater only”. They ran total-loss ignitions, short poles, and were setup with massive power. They were tough to ride in the surf, and the exposed ignitions were not “salt friendly” without some extra care. This made the freshwater lake a great testing/tuning spot.
When word got out, several people either wanted to watch, or potentially ride these monster machines (they were far less common than they are now). Several guys ended up at the lake, and were allowed demo rides on these new machines. Some where there for the motors, and some to see how these newer hulls rode. Tim Berkstresser with Superfreak Skis was one of the first to have some skis out there, most noticeably the -4.3 carbon freaks of Josh Rosa and Lucas Vasconcelos. These guys were very generous with test rides, and exposed a lot of riders to the aftermarket hull/big engine experience. Sunk/hydrolocked skis were common with inexperienced riders demoing these skis, and the guys would get them running and send the next guy out. It was true jet ski comradery at its best.
This event was loads of fun, and gave people the “try before you buy” opportunity. It has continued to grow each year. The following year, Superfreak was present once again, and the guys from Xscream were on scene debuting the new “Kong” hulls. This was there first in-house carbon competition hull, and several people showed up to check them out and take a test ride. They also had various engine configurations for people to try. With the support of Xscream, Superfreak, and recently Thrust Innovations, this impromptu event has grown to be an integral part of the Daytona Freeride.
Fast forward to the last few years; this event has exploded in popularity. For the last 2-or-3 years, so many people have been in attendance that parking has been an issue at the ramp. Hundreds have been in attendance at any one time. Almost all major manufactures have a part in this, and have some demo equipment on site and available for test rides. Hull manufactures that have participated in recent years include, but are not limited to, Superfreak, Xscream, Rickter, EME, Hurricane Industries, and Rage Composite Works. Engine packages from Xscream, Thrust/Dasa, and True Performance Engineering have all been available for demo.
In addition to the demo side, there has been an impromptu thrash session with several professional freestyle riders. Jason Stoyer, Daniel Martin, Michael Ratti, Pat Bogart, Chris Anyzeski, Jeremy Parr, Jason Hurt (AKA “Tricky”), Peter Waldron, Jace Forest, Rick Roy, Ryan Doberstein, and Johnny Leftly are just a few that have shown up and thrown down! Local law enforcement came by last year to investigate all the cars, and stayed most of the day videoing and talking to the riders. They even sent their buddies by on the next shift to watch the “crazy, insane stuff” that we do. It was a great interaction, and they enjoyed the show. It was great to make some friends with the local guys and have them support us in what we do.
If you are in search of a new hull and/or powerplant, and need a demo ride, consider making it out to Flatwater Friday. Most all hull and engine manufactures will have something there for you to check out. It’s a great time with a great group of guys. It is done on Friday to have minimal impact on the event at the beach. Consequently, if its a poor surf day, attendance at the lake thrives. More guys are willing to come out and watch or test some skis out if the surf is poor.