A futuristic superhero-like water sport inspired by the hovering skateboard in Back to the Future took center stage at Toronto’s waterfront as the inaugural Flyboard North American Championships kicked off last weekend. It’s the absolute latest in extreme sports that’s been generating a ton of buzz since it was unveiled in 2011. It’s something of a cross between wakeboarding and jetskiing, but there’s absolutely no mistaking flyboarding with any other sport.
Designed by French Jet Ski champion Franky Zapata, the flyboard allows users to literally zoom across the water surface and up into the air by using the motor inside a Jet Ski. All the magic comes from the water, which is forced through a hose to a pair of boots with jet nozzles underneath to recreate the rocket-like power which shoots the user up into the sky.
Most people have only just heard of the sport or seen snippets of it online. And with a nearly 6,000 U.S. dollar price tag attached to the device, it’s not hard to understand why. Now for the first time, Torontonians can get front row seats to watch the action, and it’s all thanks to the Toronto RedPath Waterfront Festival.”We have created the inaugural Flyboard North American Championships, so it’s never happened before,” said festival organizer Lea Parrell.
“We brought competitors from Canada, USA, Bermuda, Spain, Hawaii, they’ve come from all over the world here to compete.”Thirty-two professional flyboard pilots from around the world battled it out with double backflips, Supermans, Dolphin Dives and many more tricks to showoff their skills and impress the crowds.And it feels just as impressive as it looks, according to Brody Wells, a Canadian professional Flyboard rider.
“It’s almost unexplainable, it really is, and just to feel that weightlessness when you’re out there on the board, I would just explain it as extraordinary,” he said. “It kind of pieces some from downhill skiing, wakeboarding, to snowboarding.””It kind of takes that edge management from those board sports, but then it gives you a completely different feeling because all that propulsion,” he explained.
“All the energy is coming from that board instead of utilizing the energy from your boat when you’re on the wakeboard, so it’s just unlike any other sport, but we do steal a few things from there.
“With speeds reaching up to 23 miles per hour and heights up to 16 feet above the water, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. But adrenaline junkies like Wells can’t get enough of it.Wells said with the sport being so new, it’s up to athletes like him to get innovative and creative.”You can change your tricks, you can add your style, there’s no real foundation for the sport yet and that’s what I really love about it is that we get to be the ones that build this up and really create this into something,” he said.It was an intense three-day competition as nearly half the athletes were eliminated in the qualifying rounds. Wells didn’t make the cut, but he, like many others, are just glad to have another competition other than the Flyboard World Championships, to brush up their skills in.”We got the World Championships coming up in October or November this year, not sure when it’s going to be, but definitely using this as a springboard to help me. You know sometimes you got to overcome that adversity to get through to your next rounds and that’s what I’m going to use it for. Just build on it and go out and really try hard in the next worlds.”