You might think a question like that is delving into the realm of the completely ludicrous but stick with us for a second.
If someone’s asking “what is a water hoverboard?” it’s likely they’re thinking of one of two devices produced by a company called Zapata Racing—the Flyboard, and the Hoverboard.
This device was first tested in 2011 by French inventor and watercraft enthusiast Franky Zapata. His team, Zapata Racing, wanted to create a water-propelled board that had both the ability to ride under the water and to emerge above the water while remaining stable in the air.
Thus, the Flyboard was born. It consists of a board, attached to a downward facing U-shaped pipe, attached to a supply hose, which connects to a jet-ski and channels water.
The water comes out the pipes with great force, allowing the rider to zip around with a fair amount of speed and even launch themselves into the air about 30-35 feet.
The board locks into place above the propulsion pipe. The rider is secured to the board with foot bindings and uses their body to stabilize during flight. The rider can also rotate and shift direction with subtle movements while they are on the board.
Installing a Flyboard to a PWC is a fairly simple task once you know how to do it, and usually takes under an hour to complete. It’s compatible with most popular brands, including Seadoo, Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha. There are even accessories (quick nozzles) that allow riders to switch back and forth from operating the jet-ski to powering the Flyboard.
Manning a Flyboard takes a good deal of practice. Due to the inherent risks involved, the board is buoyant, meaning it will float to the surface of the water while not in use . Additionally, riders must take heed of several safety requirements. Namely, they must wear a helmet and don a personal floatation device to prevent possible head impacts and the chance of drowning if rendered immobile.
Zapata Racing followed up their Flyboard with a Hoverboard design. This device works on a similar principle, by attaching a sturdy, carbon-fiber board to a pipe powered by a jet-ski, riders can ride the waters in surfer/skater fashion. The maximum height for Hoverboard riding is 26 feet; the maximum speed is about 25 MPH.
Learning the basics is relatively easy, particularly if you already have experience surfboarding or wakeboarding. With practice, riders can perform various tricks and flips, though acquiring this level of skill does take time.
Using a complementary device riders can control their throttle. Individuals who already own Flyboards can use their original hardware with the Hoverboard, meaning they only have to purchase the board and connect it to get started. It’s compatible with the same range of PWCs as the Flyboard, and can also be used with the quick nozzle to switch power between devices.
Are These Things Popular?
Very much so. As riding Flyboards and Hoverboards takes a great deal of practice and supervision, there are entire courses dedicated to providing instructor training for interested candidates. These courses cover the rudiments of board operation, teach candidates the ins and outs, and allow them to learn how to troubleshoot various issues that may arise while operating one of the devices.
The training, in turn, gives candidates the skills required to train others on using a Flyboard or Hoverboard, or run a rental operation. These too are numerous, allowing those interested in trying out a Flyboard (but not quite ready to own one) the experience of zipping above the water.
“Hydroflight,” which is what the broader category of operating these devices has been called, even has a yearly gathering for enthusiasts—HydroFest. It’s free, open to the public, and gives those interested a chance to check out the newest in gear, show off their talents on various devices, and meet notables in the industry (such as the winner of the Flyboard World Championship).
Water Hoverboard Price
Pricing for Flyboards and Hoverboards can vary based upon what you need and where you’re buying. For example’s sake, look at Aquatic Aviation and their options for different Flyboard/Hoverboard packages.
What Else Is Zapata Up To?
Beyond the already impressive Flyboard and Hoverboard, Zapata has a water Jetpack, which takes the same concept as the other devices and translates it into Jetpack form. They are also working on a prototype for the Flyboard Air, and “Independent Propulsion Unit,” supposedly capable of flight up to 10,000 feet at a speed of 93 MPH. You can check out footage of that marvel on Zapata’s YouTube Page.