This is a guest post by William J Popper of Traveldealalert.com
If you are a denizen of the beach scene you probably have seen some seemingly crazy people flying through the air behind their Personal Watercrafts—that’s Flyboarding! If you haven’t seen this cool trend yet head over Montrose Beach in Chicago on any summer weekend and you can observe true Flyboarding masters in action (actually, its just the Honey, I Shrunk My Wallet crew and our guests out for a day of fun).
The Flyboard was invented by Franky Zapata of Zapata Racing in France and was first brought to market in 2012. The Flyboard is akin to a flying wakeboard (in fact, the boots used on the Flyboard are actually wakeboarding boots). The Flyboard hooks up to your PWC via, what is effectively, a 60 foot fire hose. The thrust from the PWC is ingeniously channeled through the hose to the Flyboard and up you go.
I would guess that the Honey, I Shrunk My Wallet crew has taught more than 150 people to Flyboard in the last two years. Our guests come with widely varying levels of athletic talent. The vast majority of them will be up and flying in a few minutes. They experience a combination of exhilaration and accomplishment offered by few other activities.
However, Flyboarding is not for everybody. My 75 year old uncle had a very hard time just being pushed through the water by the Flyboard (to his credit he kept trying to fly). One young guest kept falling backwards (toward the PWC) until I plucked her from the water for her own safety. One or two people just panicked when I started pushing them through the water and their Flyboarding experience was cut short but the vast majority of people absolutely love the experience and want to come back again and again. Here are 5 steps to remember if you go Flyboarding:
Step One – After you have donned your wet suit, watersports helmet and life jacket, hop into the water and slip your feet into the Flyboard boots. (some people prefer to strap on the boots on the boat’s swim platform).
Step Two – Ok, now you are suited up and ready to go. Lie down in the water on your stomach. Face away from the PWC. The operator will then start up the waverunner and give it a very small amount of gas.
Step Three – As the PWC thrust kicks in, you will feel the Flyboard tug at your feet. The Flyboard will then begin to push you through the water. Take a minute and get used to the feeling of being propelled through the water. Play with it. Get the feel of being pushed through the lake by a stream of water.
Step Four – When you are comfortable, the PWC operator will give you some more gas. When you are ready, place your feet underneath you (don’t bend those knees) and up you go. The best description of the move is that it’s like doing “the worm” on the dance floor. Once you get up in the air—avoid the temptation to look down. Looking down will move your center of gravity forward and you will most likely lose your balance.
The PWC operator controls the height of your flight with the amount of thrust applied. You control the attitude of your flight with your feet (toes up to go backward–toes down to go forward–feet level to hover). You can turn the Flyboard by adjusting the level of your feet from side to side (raise your right knee to go left—left knee to go right).
Step Five – Enjoy the sensation of flying! Smile! Relax! Take a look around at the people on the beach (and the other boaters) gawking at your newly acquired Flyboarding skills. Just think – the person of your dreams will be endlessly fascinated as you regale them with stories of your Flyboarding prowess (OK..this probably won’t happen). Have your friends take a killer picture and post that baby on Facebook or Instagram. You’re a Flyboarder now!!!
If you fall, and you will fall, do it away from the PWC. If you are in the water near the PWC, make sure to point your feet (with Flyboard attached) towards it. The small amount of thrust still pumping through the Flyboard will keep you from hitting the PWC. Remember, the Flyboard is simply dragging the PWC along and its operator has little control of direction when the Flyboard is attached. Stay alert after a fall!
The author is not a professional Flyboard instructor. All Flyboarding tips contained in this article are for informational purposes and are not intended to replace lessons. Please contact your local Flyboard authorized dealer/rental facility if you would like to experience Flyboarding and/or take lessons from an authorized Flyboarding instructor.