Sunday, 24 March, SANYA (China): The UIM-ABP Aquabike Class-Pro World Championship will kick-off in spectacular fashion with the World’s top Freestylers opening the 2013 season in the stunning city port of Sanya, China on 27-30 March .
Six of the sport’s top stars will showcase their skills and will no doubt be looking to upstage their slightly bigger sporting powerboat cousins in Class 1 who are competing in Sanya at the same time.
Leading out the magnificent six will be the defending UIM-ABP World Champion Nac Florjancic. But the Slovenian star will have one rider in particular to watch out for, his older brother Rok.
Born in Maribor, Slovenia, the Florjancic brothers, who when not competing run the family publishing and printing business, are arguably the world’s top two Freestylers; they debuted in the UIM-ABP Championship in China in 2011 and laid an impressive marker for their rivals to take note of, completing the one-two with Rok leading home his brother in both heats to take the Grand Prix title.
The duo dominated again in 2012; Rok was the stand-out rider winning the Grand Prix titles ahead of Nac in Qatar and Italy. But his absence from the title decider due to commercial commitments in the USA where he went on to win the IJSBA Havasu title for the second time, opened the door for his brother who went on to win in Liuzhou, China to lift his first World Championship.
Making a welcome return to the UIM-ABP series in Sanya is the flamboyant Italian star, Valerio ‘showtime’ Calderoni.
The 2009 and 2011 World Champion and three-times Italian Champion, who was born and lives in Rome, sat out the 2012 season after injury forced him out of the opener, but he recovered to compete in Europe, going on to win the title.
Calderoni is joined by countryman and fellow Roman, Roberto Mariani, the veteran of the six at 43 years young and famed for his trick ‘superman’. He made his competitive debut in 2002 winning the Italian Championship, repeating the feat in 2007 and 2009.
Two relative newcomers to the sport and completing the line-up in Sanya are Frenchman Nicolas Denille, the youngest of the competitors at 23 and Serbian Aleksandar Petrovic.
Denille, a car designer from Paris, France, made his competitive debut in 2009 and has finished as runner-up in the French Championship for the last four years, taking fourth in the European’s last year and finishing third in China in his only appearance in the UIM-ABP series.
Aleksandar Petrovic makes his UIM-ABP debut in Sanya; a freestyle instructor from Belgrade, he splits his time between home and Miami due to his Freestyle commitments in the USA. He finished fourth in the IJSBA Championship in 2011, winning the American AM Championship.
The Freestylers will kick-off their Sanya experience with an evening show on Wednesday, 27 followed by two free practice sessions on Thursday, with heats 1 and 2 taking place at 13.30hrs (local) on Friday and Saturday.