By Sue DeWerff
Many have compared it to wakeboarding on steroids — others describe the experience as an adrenaline rush where they were “high on hovering” — and according to Jay Figart, owner of Jump Right In Fly-Boarding in Merritt Island, the majority of his customers have told him it is like nothing they’ve ever done before.
“Fly-boarding,” the extreme watersport that enables riders to skim over the water up to 20 feet, works on a jet-propulsion system that is powered by a personal watercraft. An electronic management controlled by the personal watercraft (PWC) operator, allows the driver to control the speed and elevation of the rider, allowing the rider to control the direction of his or her flight.
A hose, which is attached with a cast iron fitting and connected to the PWC, raises the fly-board up when water is channeled through it.
“It is like wearing a pair of high-powered jet boots,” said Figart, who opened the business last year, after attending a local demo event. Though his investment for the special equipment was more than $10,000, not including the PWC, he admitted he is happy to have gotten involved in this type of business. “Both tourist and locals alike have told me they have enjoyed the experience. I am thrilled to be able to offer this unique water activity and welcome riders who are up for the adventure.”
The concept of “fly-boarding,” invented by a French water- sports enthusiast and personal watercraft racer, Frank Zapata, was introduced in the U.S. in 2011. Since then, it has become a popular attraction amongst resort areas internationally. Now promoted as one of the No. 1 recreational activities on the Space Coast by “Trip Advisor,” Figart said he can have riders up and flying after about 10 minutes of instruction. The only requirements are that riders be a minimum of 18 years old and able to swim.
Jump Right In Fly-Boarding is located at the Island Water Craft Rental, 1872 E. Merritt Island Causeway. Half-hour sessions start at $89 per person/ $169 for couples. All flights include instruction and safety equipment. For more information, visit JumpRightIn.biz or call (321) 458-0920.