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Zapata blends surfing and Flyboarding with new Hoverboard by ZR


June 15, 2014

French jet ski champion Franky Zapata has modified his Flyboard to create the Hoverboard by ZR, which  sits somewhere between surfing and flyboarding

French jet ski champion Franky Zapata has modified his Flyboard to create the Hoverboard by ZR, which sits somewhere between surfing and flyboarding

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Back in 2011, French jet ski champion Franky Zapata launched the Flyboard, which sent swimmers skyward propelled by a jet of water. Three years on he's put a new spin on the idea, revealing the Hoverboard by ZR. This new extreme-sport lives up to its "Back to the Future" namesake and offers riders an experience that sits somewhere between surfing and flyboarding.

"I am actually a fan of the film Back to the Future and I remembered thinking that this would no longer be fiction in 2015," Franky Zapata tells Gizmag. "So I thought it would be a great opportunity to mix my passion for extreme sports and my interests in great movies. I am pretty sure Marty McFly would love our board and if he does, I hope he would give me a call and so we could give it a try together!"

The Hoverboard by ZR features a board resembling a wakeboard that is attached to a personal watercraft (PWC), such as a jet ski, via an 18 m (59 ft)-long hose. This supplies a flow of water that is expelled through a single nozzle with enough energy to propel the rider through the air at adrenalin-pumping speeds and heights. The 18 m of hose allows the companion jet ski rider to travel safely behind the Hoverboard user, giving them enough space to safely glide through the air and perform some fancy tricks.

Depending on the horsepower of the PWC, the Hoverboard can travel at speeds of up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph), while soaring up to 5 m (16.5 ft) above the water. Riders also have the option of upgrading to an Electronic Management Kit (EMK), which features a hand held throttle that connects to the jet ski engine and gives the user 100 percent control of the speed and thrust of the Hoverboard.

According to Zapata the Hoverboard experience doesn't come close to kite surfing and instead offers an experience that is similar to "snowboarding but in the air."

"There’s no competition between Kite surfing and Hoverboard by ZR," says Zapata. "They are related but have nothing to do in terms of sensation and acrobatic figures you can perform. With Hoverboard by ZR you can do acrobatics, you can sit on it, and all of this hands free. You still can ride a Hoverboard by ZR even if there’s no wind, and all you need is a jet ski and the board and as it is so easy, you can really enjoy yourself."

The Hoverboard can be used in the ocean, lakes or a large enough pond with a minimum depth of 4 m (13 ft), and is prohibited to be used in small bodies of water such as swimming pools. Zapata Racing suggests that Hoverboard users should be at least 16 years of age before testing out the sport and it is also mandatory for all new riders to undertake a one hour lesson at an approved training center.

"It is not hard at all," says Zapata. "The only thing you have to do is to find your balance. It should take several minutes no more."

Thrill-seekers looking to get their hands on a Hoverboard by ZR will have to fork out close to US$6,000 for the unit, and that doesn't include the cost of your own jet ski. The good news is that Zapata Racing also has plans to distribute the boards within its global network of rental operators.

You can check out the Hoverboard in action in the promotional video below.

Source: Zapata Racing

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

When you get to my age there are things that you can no longer do. I see it as a personal tragedy that this is one of them!

Carpe diem - while you still can - old age does not come alone.

Mel Tisdale

Mel. It depends on what "my age" is! My dad is in his mid 80s and he and his friend, who's in his 90s both ski every year at Purgatory in Durango Co. My dad also rides his mountain bike around the Rockies and 2 years ago, we all went 4-wheeling on quads up in the mountains of Silverton on old mining roads. You're only as old as you want to be!


Fun to use in & around Hawaii, Caribbean, off CA, Med Sea, Australia alone & for lakes: Lake Tahoe & Arrowhead & Big Bear alone.

Stephen Russell

Not true, Ed. Your dad is the exception, not the rule. The condition of your physical body is always a determining factor. Ones state of mind is important, but can not completely overcome physical limitations.

Noel K Frothingham
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