Vancouver AUDL Franchise Set to Compete in AUDL, Triple Crown, and Canadian Events
Vancouver’s premier professional ultimate team is expanding into exciting new territory for the sport of ultimate, and it’s getting a brand new name and look to mark the occasion.
In an exciting new step, Vancouver will become the first organization to play as sponsored professionals in both league and international tournament play. Following a landmark agreement among franchise owners and local community leaders, the Vancouver AUDL franchise will now become synonymous with Vancouver ultimate at all levels of the sport. Under a single banner, an historic merger of professional and amateur ultimate will let fans follow a single streamlined brand competing not just in the AUDL Western Conference, but also in the Open divisions of the celebrated American and Canadian national tournament series. Danny Saunders of Ultimate Canada and Tom Crawford of USA Ultimate each signed off this week on the official transfers of the competitive status and Tour Flight standing of the Furious George club to the Vancouver Riptide for competition purposes.
Commenting on the pro-am merger, Vancouver General Manager Brian Gisel explained that streamlining ultimate’s market identity is a key incentive.
“The idea here is to consolidate brand and market equity,” says Gisel. “Ultimate has a great and growing fan base, particularly here in Vancouver, but there are lots of organizations and lots of competition formats jockeying for their attention and their entertainment dollars. It hasn’t been clear to fans where the best competition and best entertainment value are. By bringing together big names in their respective spheres like Riptide and Furious [George], consolidating the identity, fans know where to look for the best their sport has to offer.”
“We also look forward to centralizing that name recognition among sponsors, who know that they are buying into both local and broadly international markets when they invest in our product.”
Although many Riptide players have previously competed for Canadian and American club titles with Furious George, under this new scheme, the two teams will become indivisibly united for both league and tournament play. The benefits to players are substantial, says veteran Riptide and Furious captain Alex Davis.
“Although it is sad to retire the identity of Furious George, the benefits of a completely streamlined programme outweigh the costs. The travel costs of tournament play, both in Canada and the U.S., can be a very limiting factor for self-funded athletes. Being able to offer players essentials like paid flights, lodgings, and meals will make our sport tremendously more accessible.”
“I don’t think of this as giving up the history of Furious George, but as investing it in the future,” says player Gagandeep Chatha.
2016 – The Year of the Monkey
Part and parcel to the new programme, the Riptide and Furious George names will be retired, and the team will compete in all venues as the Water Monkeys.’
“We couldn’t carry on as just one or the other,” explains marketing manager Kathryn Pohran. “Furious George, although it has a lot of history, is confusing to sponsors and audiences out of context and outside of ultimate circles. When you Google ‘Furious George,’ you find GIFs of knife-fighting monkeys…. It’s a tough sell.”
But the Riptide franchise name needed a makeover too: “For starters, ‘Riptide’ is just impossible to come up with a mascot for. Even if you can get insurance for it, nobody wants to hug a fast-moving body of water. We want someone down in front that kids can hug and play with and make a fun family experience.”
“You shouldn’t try to personify a force of Nature or a similar abstractions, like Current, Rush, or Traffic, because these are not entities people can relate to,” adds Peter Yu, an English Major. “With Riptide, maybe you can justify holding wet t-shirt contests, but that’s it.”
“With our budget, we were hard-pressed to come up with something better than a creepy lifeguard with a garden hose,” says Pohran of the only audition for the part.
The Water Monkey, in addition to honouring the combined parties of the merger, is a fixture borrowed from the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese New Year, festively observed and celebrated in Vancouver, marks 2016 as the Year of the Monkey, making the mischievous simian a fitting emblem for the new team’s inception. And the Water Monkey also carries favourable auspices for the team among astrologers: “They can be crafty, cunning and dishonest and will grasp any opportunity to make a quick profit or to outsmart their opponents.” Famous Water Monkeys include Danny DeVito, Christina Aguilera and fellow Canadian Celine Dion.
Pohran and friends look forward to distributing themed door prizes to fans and season ticket-holders, including traditional fried foods and outrageous discounts on many popular brand-name goods. “And every attendee at every game gets a free wet fortune cookie!” Says Pohran.
“But I ate all of mine already.”
Gisel says he is pleased with the name and the future of ultimate he sees unfolding. “Yeah, well really anything that stops [captain] Myles [Sinclair] from holding […] wet t-shirt contests on […] city property is a […] plus at this point.”