It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it … seems to be gliding over English Bay with the athletic prowess of a BMX trickster. What?
Oh, it’s a flyboarder, taking part in a sport that combines wakeboarding and jet packs. To find out how to get on a board this summer, I spoke with BC Flyboard instructor and Sales Manager Mike Prince. He’s in the business of giving Vancouverites the license to fly.
BC Flyboard is among the first to offer this activity in Vancouver and other locations in the province. For those who don’t know, what exactly is it?
Flyboarding is a unique and exciting new sport. The pilot is given the power of a Sea-Doo, with jets on a board strapped to his/her feet. The propulsion allows them to go over 40 feet in the air and dive under the water. Such heights are for trained professionals only, of course!
As a sport, it’s surprisingly easier and more intuitive than any I’ve tried. Some elements from other board sports do lend themselves to flyboarding, like balance and varial moves similar to wakeboarding, snowboarding, and surfing.
How did you discover flyboarding?
BC Flyboard was started by Daniel Kaufman, who is the Official Canadian Distributor. Daniel had 12 years of professional motorcycle training and was looking for an exciting company; he came across flyboarding and couldn’t resist.
I started helping Daniel with his website a little over a year ago. Now, I compete and help run sales and events for B.C. and other parts of Canada … with the same level of excitement about the sport I had from day one.
It sounds contagious. How would you convince someone who isn’t athletically-inclined to give it a try?
I have always been a lover of board sports, and water has always been my most comfortable element. When I found flyboarding I couldn’t believe that my various passions had aligned.
Convince someone to try it? There’s no convincing needed. The photos and videos we’ve taken usually get people out of their seats, asking how, when and where.
Of course, some see it and think it’s dangerous. But professionals, who are comfortable taking risks, have made most of the videos online. The truth is that it’s safer than any water sport out there and has seen fewer accidents.
For new people, it’s a very controlled environment of learning and fun, with safety precautions: a life vest, wetsuit, and helmet are worn at all times.
Cool, but safety doesn’t preclude embarrassment: What’s the funniest bail you’ve ever seen?
There’s nothing specific I can pinpoint. The a$$bomb is a common fall for new people: it’s when someone tries to stand up and hover above the water. Their legs bend and shoot them backwards on their butt.
It’s not painful by any means, but always surprises a new pilot (and gives the safety operator a good laugh).
Nothing like a good, cushioned fall on the keester. What are some other great times you’ve experienced because of flyboarding?
The second annual Flyboard World Championships hosted by the founder/inventor Franky Zapata was in Qatar last year with almost 100 competitors.
Our most recent competition Toronto’s first North American Championships organized by Daniel Kaufman. The location of the third annual World Championships is yet to be disclosed, but there are whispers of a tropical location in the U.S.
I did a show for the President of Turkmenistan. Flyboarding has definitely taken me on a few adventures, and there are more to come.
What’s the most surprising thing about people who try flyboarding?
What surprises me most is that regardless of weight, age, height or athleticism, they all fly within minutes. The biggest bonus is the ear-to-ear smiles we see every time.
How can Vancouverites try BC Flyboard this summer?
*End of interview*.
Feature Image: Neil Davies @njdav on Instagram