For year after year, a solo Freestyler was playing in perfect winds on the shores of the Adriatic Sea in Rimini Italy, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the moment when his joy of play could be shared by others. The patience and passion that fueled Claudio “Clay” Collera would be manifested in a tournament that would change the direction of the Sport of Freestyle. That tournament became known as Paganello.
Clay was the very first top level freestyler from Italy and he helped inspire the next generation immensely. His charisma when he played and especially performed was unmatched and infectious. Along with his wife Lui Tasini, they created the Freestyle event at the famous Paganello Beach Tournament. An event that would create the ‘Euro Wave’ of new and young Freestylers from multiple countries within the European Union.
Clay (and Lui) is synonymous with Paganello – the event and especially the spirit. In all likelihood, the event served as a point of reference that Nike used to launch their highly successful Beach Freestyle Ad campaign in 2003. Another impact of Clay’s was hosting the FPA World Championships in Paganello in 2003 and 2004, the first time it was held outside of the USA. This served as the template for future European Freestyle events and more World Championship tournaments on the continent.
Clay also played like a champion. And in doing so, he carved the way forward for the new Euro Shredders who followed in his path. Players like Fabio Sanna, Antonio, “Piccio” Cusma, Manu Cesari, Claudio Cigna, Andrea Meola, Marco Prati, Andrea Dini and Matteo Gaddoni all were tutored by Jam Master Clay. But his influence went far beyond Italy. His team mates Reto Zimmerman (SUI) and Joakim Arveskar (SWE) were selected as the Skippy Sez Co-op Team of the 2010’s. But he is best known for his stage presence, his charisma, his boundless love of play and for his non-stop energy. Over the years he has defied Father Time again and again. Always expressing his child like joy as if discovering Freestyle for the very first time. He is a player for the ages.