Interview with Sam Powell – European Pro Flowboarder
FlowBlogger is very excited to share a recent interview with Pro Bodyboarder (FlowRider) Sam Powell out of England! Sam is one of the top bodyboarders in the world as well as defending European champion. In the interview Sam shares a great passion for the growing sport and gives terrific advice to riders and for life in general. Please give this a good read, you will be glad you did.
Name: Sam Powell
About You: Flowboarder & International Businessman
Home Country: England, UK
Current Location: London, England
Home Wave(s): Twinwoods Adventure, Bedford, UK
Flowboarding Specialty: Bodyboard on the FlowRider. I like to think I can ride FlowBarrel too.
Years Flowboarding: 4 – I started riding regularly in 2012
- UK Bodyboard Champion for a couple of years running
- European Champion 2012 & 2015
- Master’s Degree in Engineering!
Other Sports / Hobbies: Hitting the Gym for a bit of Olympic Weightlifting
Social Media Pages:
- @FlowPowell instagram + Twitter
- YouTube channel : FlowPowell
FlowBlogger: Hi Sam. Thanks for meeting with us. Congrats on your 2015 European FLOW Tour bodyboard title! Please tell us about the growing flowboarding scene there.
SAM: Ahoy! No problem… and thanks!
Glad to be a part of the site! Growing is certainly right, we’ve had a great push within Europe from the riders who want to be involved and contribute to the scene here.
There’s a fairly tight-knit core of riders that are pushing the sport forward here through coaching, competing, and of course riding regularly in Europe.
One thing that we have struggled with a little here is a few venues closing through unfortunate circumstance. That’s left some of our best riders without a home wave! It’s a real challenge that will hopefully be overcome as more and more venues start to open.
FlowBlogger: Please tell us how you got started in this great sport.
SAM: I actually first started riding quite a few years before 2012 (the date I mentioned earlier). When I was about 15 (2004/5?), I was on holiday in Dubai and tried the FlowRider at the water park there. I loved it and rode for the whole time I was there, learning the very basics. After the holiday ended I went back to the UK and looked up where my nearest FlowRider was… there wasn’t even one in the UK at that point. It wasn’t until 2011 that a wave opened that I could actually get to.
In 2012 I finished university and had a whole summer to kill before starting my graduate job. I spent basically the entire summer riding and training before competing in Euros that year.
FlowBlogger: You have been able to travel Europe and the world with the sport, including a solid finish at the 2015 World Championships in Bangkok. What is that like?
SAM: Flowboarding has definitely taken me to some incredible locations with some great people. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind for me, to be honest, and it’s something I’ll never take for granted. Being able to compete and represent my Country (and continent) at the top level is pretty awesome and it’s not somewhere I ever thought I’d be when I first picked up a board.
FlowBlogger: Do you have any plans or hopes to compete on the USA tour some day? I’m sure a lot of the folks here would like to meet you.
SAM: Unfortunately I couldn’t dedicate a full summer to doing the Tour. It just wouldn’t work with my other commitments. My main focus is really on helping flowboarding grow within the UK and Europe and competing here. Hopefully we will have something resembling the US Tour soon in Europe. I’ve been fortunate enough to make it to Worlds where I’ve met a lot of the top riders from the states, and I hope to continue competing internationally as long as I can.
FlowBlogger: What challenges have you faced to get to this point in your flowboarding career?
SAM: A few! The first is that I’ve always lived pretty far away from a FlowRider. My ‘home’ wave is currently about 100 miles through some of the worst traffic in the country – it’s not ideal for getting practice in!
The second is time! My job takes up a lot of my time and involves a lot of travel overseas – also not very helpful for riding regularly. Just look at how long it took me to get time to get this interview done!
All of this taken into account I’m currently trying to ride once a week, but on average, it’s probably twice a month (for a couple of hours at a time) that I manage to get on the wave.
Another slightly smaller one is that I was actually pretty late to the game compared to most of the top riders go – I was 21 before I had regular access to a flowrider – definitely not an ideal time to start learning something. Of course it’s never too late, but I watch younger guys like my little brother Danny and Davie Forsdike and the rate that they pick things up is incredible! Okay, I’m just jealous! What can I say!
FlowBlogger: When it comes to flowboarding, what keeps you motivated?
SAM: I love competing. Measuring myself against the best in the world is great. The fact that there’s someone out there better than me (there are several people!) is enough to keep me motivated. But actually I’m really critical of my own riding. I’m always pushing myself to improve. I watch back videos of myself and can always see something that I’d change or tweak slightly, so I’m always keen to get back on the wave and make those adjustments and learn new things.
FlowBlogger: What would be your dream job?
SAM: I love working with and interacting with people – anything that allows me to do that is good for me. I also love being challenged and doing things that stretch me out of my comfort zone.
Actually my current job as a Sales Manager in a technical industry suits me pretty well – I don’t think I could do something I didn’t really enjoy, but I’m always looking for the next challenge!
FlowBlogger: Please share an amazing memory you have from the sport.
SAM: I find that actually some of the best memories within flowboarding don’t happen on the wave or even on the podium. There are some great personalities within the sport and just getting to travel to exotic locations to compete is amazing in itself.
One memory that stands out for me is at World’s in Bangkok last year. To get there I took an 8pm flight overnight (after a full day at work) which stopped in Dubai and landed at 7pm the next day, a 16 hour journey. Needless to say I was bloody tired! When I got to the hotel, Jeremy Carlier and Tim Van Dortmont were waiting for me. I was dying to grab some food quickly and go to bed. They persuaded me to go to a restaurant… Quite a few beers and several hours later were hanging out of a Tuk Tuk screaming through the streets of Bangkok on the way to Khao San Road blasting terrible Dutch Europop music from Jer’s phone over the speakers. The driver was not amused! In the end we got pretty steaming and ended up going back to FlowHouse at about 1am and hanging with some of the guys there.
I’m still proud of the fact that I dragged myself out of bed for a 9am practice session the next morning, though I have absolutely no memory of it!
FlowBlogger: What was the best flowboarding advice you were ever given?
There’s a story here – When I was first learning to rodeo I was really struggling to get the move down. I had spent ages on it – trawled through videos online of Nick Nguyen & co hitting rodeos and making it look effortless… I was filming myself and trying to analyse where I was going wrong but just couldn’t work it out.
I was riding a really quiet session with Ruby Ellam – one of the UK’s best female flowboarders at the time – and was expressing my frustrations at not being able to get it. She had been watching me try and fail rodeos for the whole session, getting more frustrated with each try. All she said to me was “Ermmmm…. Have you tried jumping?” I can still remember it really vividly. I was really sceptical. I was sure I was jumping enough, but I thought “what the hell, I’ll give it a go!”.
The next attempt, I landed it. I couldn’t believe it! It turns out that I really hadn’t been putting enough energy into getting into the air and had been focusing too much on the rotation, but that little cue was all I needed to get me moving in the right direction!
FlowBlogger: Where do you hope to see flowboarding five years from now?
SAM: In my back garden! Just wait til I get that FlowRider built in my garden. It’s going to be the home of World Flowboarding. I just need to work out how I’m going to make my millions first!
In all seriousness, growing a sport takes time and effort – it’s almost certainly not going to take off overnight – look at the growth of skateboarding and surfing over the years. It has taken a lot of time and effort to get them to where they are now.
Flowboarding is at a disadvantage in that you need a flowrider nearby to get into the sport – it’s not very accessible. So what I’d really like to see in five years is at least twice as many venues as there are now. Lots more riders having regular access to a flowrider and turning up to competitions. More brands engaging and investing in the sport (and seeing a return from that investment).
But most of all I’d like the situation where I can to talk to people I’ve recently met and not have to explain what Flowboarding is!
FlowBlogger: You mentioned the effort needed for the sport to grow– what do you think people should be doing in order to make that happen?
SAM: Riders really need to take responsibility for the growth of the sport ourselves – nobody’s going to do it for us, and it just isn’t going to happen if riders don’t step up to the plate. Think about what you can do personally to get people engaged. Get stuck in on social media and online – actively share and create good content that people want to see – don’t just like other’s photos. Think about what non-flowboarders might like to see! Use hashtags effectively – #flowrider, #flowboarding and #flowboarders are good places to start!
Also take an active part in your local scene. Want to work on your competition chops but no contests happening? Organise one! Get sponsors on board and make sure they get value from participating and they will become more interested in the sport.
Finally, turn up to contests and compete! If you don’t think you’re good enough – do it anyway! Bring your family, bring your friends, share photos of your experiences. If every rider did this an even a few of their friends took an active interest, we might just begin to develop a bigger following for our sport!
FlowBlogger: What do you do when you are not flowboarding?
SAM: As I mentioned, my job keeps me very busy! But I’ve recently developed a bit of an obsession with hitting the gym and Olympic Lifting. I love throwing heavy things around, and I’ve definitely seen the benefits in my riding!
Other than that I love to travel, play with making videos and read. Reading is cool, right?
FlowBlogger: Do you have any advice for others who will see this?
SAM: Assuming you’re a rider who wants to get better… Ride with people who are better riders than you. Or if there aren’t any at your home wave, watch videos of better riders online. You have so many resources available – YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Flowboarders.com, Flowblogger – it’s all there for you!
Take videos of yourself riding and watch it back. Learn to be critical of your own riding and analyse what you’re doing wrong. Train at the intensity you intend to compete – if you want to be an energetic and explosive rider in competitions, you have to be energetic and explosive when you practice. I see too many people just plodding through practice sessions with no direction.
Don’t be afraid to fall. Compete as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to look stupid, nobody will think worse of you for not landing a trick. I heard a pretty good quote not so long ago which was “The difference between a master and a beginner is that master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”. Get out there and try!
All that being said – Don’t take yourself too seriously! Have fun. Of course everyone wants to win, but don’t become super competitive at the expense of having fun! Don’t forget that all of us started flowboarding because we enjoy it, not to win trophies!
FlowBlogger: Sam, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Do you have any final comments to share?
SAM: Thanks for speaking to me and thanks to all of those who’ve made it possible for me to come this far in the sport. I won’t reel off names, but you know who you are and you know that I know who you are! Thanks!