How to Surf 16 Feet Above Water
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because the next coolest thing in water sports just might be something that rises above the water.
By Vignesh Ramachandran
Quick: Before summer wraps up, you’ve got to try this.
Plain old surfing, boating and Jet Skiing are going to seem so passé when you hitch a ride on the Hoverboard from French company Zapata Racing. With the Hoverboard, a water-propelled surfboard, you can literally fly above the water at heights of up to 5 meters (or 16 feet). And you don’t even need to chant, “Wingardium leviosa!” because it doesn’t involve any Harry Potter-like levitation charm.
The Hoverboard can reach speeds up to 25 mph — above the water.
Instead, the Hoverboard attaches to a Jet Ski with an 18-meter hose. The propulsion produced by the Jet Ski is routed through the hose, giving the Hoverboard enough thrust to rise into the air and reach speeds up to 40 kilometers an hour (around 25 mph). Imagine that: You’re kind of flying thanks to the power of water.
According to Zapata Racing, you don’t need special training to use the Hoverboard — “All you need is to find your balance and it takes up to 10 minutes to find it.” But depending on where you rent one, specialized training might be provided.
If renting isn’t your thing, you should know that the Hoverboard doesn’t come cheap. To buy one via a distributor, be prepared to fork over more than five grand: for example, California Flyboard sells the entire Hoverboard kit for $5,850.
Cool factor aside, is it safe? Zapata advises that users be 16 or older, wear a helmet and use the Hoverboard in water that’s at least 4 meters (13 feet) deep. Your local swimming pool would not be a good idea, but oceans and lakes are fine — just remember to rinse the Hoverboard between uses to protect the hose. The company says no customers have experienced serious injuries since it began in 2012. But it adds that for riders weighing more than 110 kg (or 242 pounds), it might not be “an optimal experience.”
Zapata Racing is the same company that introduced aquatic thrill seekers to the Flyboard, where you wear boots that connect to the Jet Ski — instead of a board.
With such a hefty price tag, picking up one of these flying water devices might not be practical. But if you’re looking to celebrate the end of summer with something none of your friends have done, rent a Hoverboard and prepare for lift-off.