EPT12 Barcelona: The high-flying, free-boarding Felipe Ramos

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Preparations under way harbour-side

Felipe Ramos is a humble guy. The 32 year old from Brazil joined the ranks of the Red Spade this summer as a Friend of PokerStars and the general outpouring of delight stood testament to the esteem in which he is held among those of us who follow poker.

But here's a thing. Yesterday, I saw Felipe Ramos walk on water. I'm serious. In fact, he rose from the ocean on a long column, then stood still, arms spread wide surveying the world before him. It brought to mind nothing so much as the statue of Christ the Redeemer that blesses Rio de Janeiro in his homeland.

It must be said that the man they call Mojave made no such comparisons himself. He wasn't long on top of his tower until he allowed a smile to crack across his face and he began flexing tattooed biceps in triumph at the small white boat that was following his every move.

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Ramos: Rising from the depths

He then lost balance somehow and plunged head-first into the sea in a manoeuvre that was far from fitting for a deity. Spitting out the contents of salt-filled lungs, he then rose again but, boom, back he came to the sea. Repeat, rinse (quite literally), repeat and rinse, for the best part about 20 minutes.

Far from allowing his elevation to the PokerStars team to go to his head in the most bizarre fashion yet, Ramos was actually having his first crack at fly-boarding. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a relatively new action sport that seems to resemble a suburban street's hosepipe fight if it was taking place among Iron Man's children.

Fly-boarders are strapped into a pair of pneumatic boots, with a pipe leading to a jet-ski's engine. When the driver of the jet-ski turns the throttle, the boots come alive: shooting out two jets of water, the fly-boarder then rises from the sea and into the sky. Provided he or she is properly balanced (and that's not easy) the fly-boarder then seems to levitate in mid-air, serene, zen-like, at perfect repose.

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Felipe Ramos: Soaring

The most accomplished fly-boarders in the world are able to control their movements through the air perfectly. Like jet-propelled Tinkerbells, they flit and swoop and duck and dive. Our little party, which also included representatives of the press corps and the PR industry, have never been regarded as Tinkerbells, but each at least managed at one point or another to stand atop his column and, for a moment at least, feel on top of the world.

"Momma, I love you!" Ramos said when asked if he had any last words before he set off on his voyage to the stars. But it was soon all "Awesome" and "Excellent" after he was hauled back into the boat, spluttering but exhilarated.

Here's one of the moments he rose from the depths, taken from on board:


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The returning heroes: Felipe Ramos, left, and Alexander Villegas

*****

Liv Boeree, of Team PokerStars Pro, and Igor Kurganov also gave fly-boarding a try this week. Sarah Herring went along with them:


The PokerStars VIP club is running all manner of trips during EPT Barcelona, including the fly-boarding excursion, a paint-balling battle and the chance to secure tickets for FC Barcelona matches at Camp Nou.

You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action will be on the Main Event page. And everything from the side events is on the side events page. It will be busy over there today. There's also EPT Live for your video-based needs.

You can also begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour