When it comes down to getting seriously involved with ‘extreme sports’ I have to admit that I drew a big line under that one as soon as I reached the tender age of ’50’, having already survived ’13’ crashes whilst unofficially racing motor-cycles around the highways and by-ways of Europe and North Africa. I had also accumulated numerous battle-scars on my body, after many years of fighting in the dojo, and competing in various martial arts tournaments up and down the UK -and to top all of the aforementioned antics, I had also been fool-hardy-enough to treat myself to a death-defying sky-dive in Las Vegas (in my forties) and a monumental bungee-jump in Tenerife the following year, which almost put-pay to me altogether!
However, in 2011 (by now I was ’52’ years old) my beloved daughter, Hayley, still managed to talk me into ‘tobogganing’ down the Great Wall of China, before rock-climbing the ‘7’ tiers of the Erawan Waterfall in Thailand, walking with a dozen sabre-toothed tigers on the Burmese / Thailand border -and going scuba-diving with a handful of sharks (and NO cage) in Cape-Town, South Africa! To add insult-to-injury, my little girl then insisted on us going on a white-water rafting adventure over 26 notorious rapids on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe (where the pair of us almost drowned, after our dinghy ‘flipped through the air’ like the tossing of a coin) before ‘Zip-sliding’ across the gigantic gorge that separates the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe -an experience that I will never forget!
And so I suppose it is fair to say that I should never say ‘NEVER’ with the latest ‘extreme-sport’ which is now taking the world by storm -and has finally arrived on our beautiful island of Tenerife -namely ‘Flyboarding’. The Flyboard was invented by Franky Zapata, a world-renowned jet-ski racing champion and engineer from Marseille, who firstly posted a video of his amazing invention on Youtube back in December 2011. In just over two weeks the Flyboarding video boasted over ‘2.5 million’ hits, thus making it a worldwide sensation virtually overnight. The Flyboard is controlled by powerful jets of water, which create propulsion for the flyer both in the air, and also under the water. 90% of the water propulsion is delivered through two nozzles, which are positioned under the riders feet, and therefore movement is controlled by the rider simply tilting his or her feet. The remaining 10% of the water is sent to hand nozzles, in order to ensure stabilization -in a similar way that ski-poles do for snow-skiers.
Unlike similar water-sports, such as jet-skiing, water-boarding, water-skiing and wake-boarding, which can take weeks, months -or even years to master, it can take literally minutes before one is flying through the air with the greatest of ease -and quite often competent Flyboarding can be attained in only a matter of hours. To begin with one simply lies down in the water with their knees bent, and as the instructor throttles forward, so the propulsion of the water allows the Flyboarder to ‘fly’ straight up into the air. A ‘self-manned’ flight is the next step, which, according to general statistics, can be learned within an hour or two -and Flyboarders require no special fitness levels, thus making the sport open to almost anyone -provided they are over ’18 years of age’, of course which is the current stipulated requirement.
As time progresses advanced Flyboarders are capable of performing all sorts of acrobatic stunts, including flips, spins -and even backward somersaults. The heights a Flyboarder can attain are also quite astounding -anything from 20 to 30 feet above the waterline being the norm, although experts at the sport can even go way-beyond this if they so desire. The Flyboard was formally introduced to the general public at the Jet-ski World Championships in China 2012, and in October of that same year the first ever Flyboarding championship was held in Doha, Qatar, which consisted of 50 Flyboarders from 21 countries around the world. The competition was eventually won by French free-styler, Stephane Prayas, but it was Frank Zapata, the creator of the Flyboard, who actually stole-the-show, with his outstanding Flyboarding skills, which he intermingled with an amazing aquatic light show that simply ‘blew-the-crowd away’. As for me giving this relatively new and extremely (bad pun) exciting ‘extreme-sport’ a bash with two new hips jointly (bad pun again) locked into place, well we shall have to see!