The latest big boy toy to hit SA shores in a massive way, leaving adrenaline junkies stunned and drooling, is the exhilarating Flyboard. Soar like a bird up to 10 metres above the water or dive down with dolphin-like ease – the Flyboard allows for an array of extreme manoeuvres that’ll get the adrenaline well and truly pumping!
An illustrious watersports career and winning multiple titles as an international jetski champion weren’t enough for the famous Franky Zapata, as he turned inventor in the spring of 2011 when he dreamed up and manufactured the innovative Flyboard concept. With his PWC brand, Zapata Racing, Franky combined his wealth of experience with an unhampered imagination to create a worldwide watersport sensation when he released the Flyboard in May 2012. The first Flyboard was met with huge enthusiasm by jetskiers and extreme hobbyists of all kinds, but Franky wasn’t completely satisfied and in 2013 he and his team at Zapata Racing introduced a product vastly improved in both technical and design aspects, the Flyboard Evolution Pro.
“Today I’m proud to present to you the Flyboard 2013 which is the outcome of a hard-working year in order to offer the best product that is as magic as it is aesthetically pleasing,” said Franky upon revealing the Flyboard Evolution Pro in 2013. “With improvements made to the board design as well as on the quick disconnection systems, I think the Flyboard 2013 will be the reference in extreme and leisure sports.”
It is an exceedingly simple yet ingenious concept. The Flyboard is shaped like a skateboard and is connected to the jet of a PWC by an 18-metre pipe which propels the user into the air or any direction he or she chooses by directing the board with handheld controls. It can either be a two-man affair with someone on the jetski operating the throttle or you can go it alone as the new Flyboard now has an Electronic Management Kit that allows operation of the PWC throttle, kill switch and starter. This way, the user can experience better flight precision and freedom to zip around like the Hobgoblin!
Optional are two stabiliser pipes that are fixed with Velcro to the user’s forearms which shoot out two water jets, giving the rider perfect balance as ski poles would for a snow skier. The height that one would reach depends entirely on the PWC’s power. With a 150 HP jetski, for instance, the rider would already get up to about five or six metres while a 250 HP will allow you to fly as high as 10 metres! Incredibly easy to use and quick to learn, the Flyboard appeals to everyone! It is said that the Flyboard can be tamed in less than 20 minutes and mastered in a day. As expected, ‘Flyboarding’ didn’t take long to develop into something more than mere recreational fun, as it grew into a serious extreme sport in the short time span since its first public release.
Flyboard Africa (PTY) LTD has recently been given the official sole distributor rights for Africa. The vision of Flyboard Africa is to introduce this new, exciting and innovative sport across Africa, while also making the product available to families and other interested individuals to enjoy as a safe recreational watersport. Unsurprisingly, it has gained huge popularity in South Africa as well and Flyboard Africa is hosting the first Flyboard South African National Championship this year. Their aim is to put South Africa on the map and for the country to compete in the 2014 Flyboard World Cup.
South African National Flyboard Championship 2014
The national competition premiere will take place on Saturday 19th, and Sunday 20th April 2014 and there will be incredible rewards on offer as great prizes and even sponsorship to the 2014 Flyboard World Cup are up for grabs during this first competition of its kind in Africa! There will be Regional Flyboard Freestyle Qualifications open to any participant demonstrating a sufficient level of potential to exhibit different and exciting manoeuvres and choreography.
You’ll need to register to take part in the Regional Qualifications which will be held in several regions including the Western Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal. After registration, each competitor will be booked for a 30-minute training session and a 30-minute Practical and Flyboard Experience Session. This will be hosted at a specific venue (to be announced) in each region. During the last five minutes of the Flyboard Experience Session(s) a video will be made of each competitor, which will be submitted for qualification in that region. The regional videos entered will be judged by a five-judge jury, which will select up to 10 competitors per region. The outcome will be determined by the comparative best scores nationally.
The scoring criteria will be based on various aspects, including the variety of manoeuvres and ‘figures’ (risk taking, technical difficulty and innovation); the implementation of manoeuvres (quality, success, sequences); the competitor’s style (position, attitude, facial expression, performance of the show); the competitors energy (number of figures, execution speed, execution rhythm); and of course the artistic side to the competitor’s flying (use of space, choreography, and look). The five judges will mark only one criterion each and the results will be determined by the best scores. The top competitors selected from each region (up to 10 competitors per region) will then take part in the Semi- Final and Final Competition on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th April 2014.
The venue for the Regionals, Semi-Final and Final Competition will be confirmed soon – visit www.flyboardafrica.co.za and www.leisureboating.co.za for updates, or follow and ‘Like’ Flyboard Africa on Facebook.