Flyboards splash into summer sports scene

May 21, 2014 | 11 a.m.

Sports | Grace Ellison for The Clarion


In June 2012, Caleb Gavic became the first person in the Midwest to purchase a Flyboard. He competed in last year's Flyboard World Cup in Qatar and is ranked fifth in the world in flyboarding. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Caleb Gavic

It’s a Minnesota phenomenon. The snow isn’t even a month behind us and people are already talking about summer activities. A notice to Minnesota newcomers: spring is not a season here – it’s a seven-second costume change. Clear the closets of their warm sweaters. Deprive the dressers of their snow pants, long underwear and wool socks. Put away the skis, sleds and ice skates.

And bring out the Flyboard.

What’s a Flyboard? According to Bethel alumnus Caleb Gavic, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have.

The Flyboard is a water-propelled jet pack that you attach to your feet that allows you to “fly.” Basically, imagine water shooting out of the bottom of your shoes, lifting you 40 to 50 feet in the air; or just picture Iron Man with water jets. Then, for those of you who are adventurous, imagine doing flips, dives and spins. That’s flyboarding.

No, really - it’s real. The Flyboard is attached to a long hose that is connected to a jet pump on a personal watercraft. The propulsion from the PWC runs through the hose, and the water jets out of the nozzles beneath the board, raising the board into the air. The propulsion also works underwater, allowing the flyboarder to make parabolic leaps in and out of the water, like a dolphin.

“It looks like something futuristic that shouldn’t exist yet,” junior nursing student Katelyn Van Haaften said.

The Flyboard was invented by French watercraft rider Franky Zapata. According to Flyboard Magazine, the sport became a “worldwide sensation” after a YouTube video was posted in December 2011 and received 2.5 million views in its first 15 days on the Internet.

Caleb Gavic saw the original video and knew that he wanted to try it. In June 2012, he became the first person in the Midwest to purchase a Flyboard.

“I don’t know if you’ll find anything more fun,” Gavic said. “This tops the charts. There’s just nothing like sitting fifty feet over the water, flying.”

For Gavic, there’s only one way to understand what it feels like to fly: “You just have to try it.”

After competing in last year’s Flyboard World Cup in Qatar, Gavic is ranked fifth in the world in flyboarding. He plans to participate in the upcoming North American Flyboard Championship in Toronto, Ontario this June.

Despite Gavic’s international success, Flyboards still aren’t commonplace on Minnesota lakes, probably because of their four-digit price tag.

For most college students looking to pay their way through school, purchasing a Flyboard is out of the question. They’ll have to resort to traditional water sports and see if Gavic is willing to share.


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