Zapata's outrageous, US$6,600 Flyboard - Aquaman meets Iron Man
By Loz Blain
December 7, 2011
We don't think Franky Zapata knows what's about to hit him. The French jet ski champion has just put together an absolutely insane leisure product, released a short video about it - and then took off on honeymoon, where presumably he's having about the least romantic getaway of his life as his phone and email inbox go absolutely bananas. And here it is: the Zapata Flyboard. This ingenious and deceptively simple device bolts on to the powerful motor of a jet ski, then routes the resulting water jet through a long hose that connects to a pair of jet boots and hand-held stabilizers. The arrangement lets you fly, Iron Man style, up to 9 meters in the air - or leap headfirst through the waves like a human dolphin. The best part? You can buy it for under 5000 Euro (US$6700). That is, once Franky digs his way out from under the avalanche of orders he's going to come home to.
Details are fairly scant at the moment, as I can't distil too much from the video with my high-school French, but here's what we know. The Flyboard is a bolt-on attachment that connects to a jet ski. You attach a tube to the main jet exit, which is then routed up the side of the vehicle. From this tube comes a thick, flexible 9-metre hose that connects to the jet boots - and the hand controls come out of the jet boot platform.
If you've got a friend handy, you can use the base, €4900 (US$6570) model, which gives control of the throttle to the jet ski operator. If not, you can pay an extra €900 (US$1200) to have a trigger throttle built into the hand unit - and we'd imagine that's a lot more fun. In this configuration, you can more or less forget about the jet ski, which just trails along behind you as you soar through the air on a column of water and plunge into the waves.
It's a magnificent looking device, as Zapata himself demonstrates in his promo video - and it allows the rider quite a lot of gymnastic flair. Given the absolutely ludicrous amounts of horsepower available from today's monstrous, turbocharged jet ski engines, the Flyboard looks like a truly extravagant and ridiculously fun way to hurt yourself this summer.
We'll try to get a hold of Zapata once he's back on deck to speak to us about the details - but in the meanwhile, spare a thought for his poor new bride and content yourself with these photos for the moment.