The nuclear option in the current water toy arms race has to be the new hoverboards, dubbed the Flyboard and the Jetovator, which allow wakeboarders to take their talents to new heights and show off on YouTube. Both devices use the powerful jets of water displaced by Jet Skis to propel riders up to 40 feet in the air and garner plenty of slack-jawed stares in the process. But you don’t have to shell out big bucks – Flyboards retail for $6,250 and Jetovators for $8,975 – to take up futuristic water sports; an increasing number of outfitters are renting this new tech to adventurers around the country.
French daredevil and Jet Ski champion Franky Zapata of Zapata Racing invented the Flyboard in 2011. Similar to a wakeboard, the Flyboard requires that a rider strap his feet in before a Jet Ski, attached via a flexible hose and an adaptor, takes off and the force of the water redirected by the engine sends the rider soaring into the air. The rider controls his movement with heel-to-toe and subtle knee movements. Practiced riders can do flips, spins, and other aerial stunts, but there aren’t many practiced riders.
The sleek, bicycle-shaped Jetovator, which was introduced last year, uses the same basic propulsion system. While it can’t climb quite as high as the Flyboard, expert riders can dive down 10 feet below water and then rocket above the surface again. The rider uses hand controls and body movements to control height and direction while the Jet Ski operator controls the thrust.
Want to try out a Jetovator? Head to Atlantic Extreme Watersports in Virginia, Texas Jet Ski Rentals, or Fort Lauderdale generally. Flyboard operations have cropped up in Orlando, Los Angeles, and Lake Norman, North Carolina, where Ernest Pruitt charges a reasonable-by-current-standards $110 for a 30-minute ride following a 30-minute training session. The power of the device is unnerving at first, but adrenalin is the perfect antidote for nerves.
More information: Flyboard riders have to prepare to get wet. The Jetovator is slightly easier for flying water-board-riding novices.