Last weekend in Marseille, France a very special video shoot took place. The Flyboard Family 2 included Flyboarders from all over the world and is sure to produce Zapata Racing’s most epic video to date. One of the people tasked with capturing this incredible moment in Flyboard history was Gretchen Vance of Aquafly Austin. As her first few pictures began emerging on Facebook it became clear how amazing this event was and H2RO Magazine just had to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on what her experience was like.
H2RO: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you specifically got involved with Flyboarding?
I am the mother of 8 and grandmother of 1 in a dynamic and cohesive blended family. We are a group of adventure seeking individuals that love to discover what the world has to offer. I have career experience in sales and marketing, operations and hospitality. Flyboard, and Flight Center Operations have given me a wonderful platform to merge my past skills into a wonderful and compelling future. I was introduced to Flyboarding by my husband after a trip that he and one of our daughters had taken. He felt that this sport was high-powered and magnetic and was immediately drawn to it. He (Bobby Vance) is the brain child behind our concept and our vision and I simply do what I can to help him push his concepts forward.
H2RO: You just came back from France after participating in the Flyboard Family 2 video shoot. What was that experience like?
In one word: Amazing! The ladies and gentleman of the Flyboard Family are some of the most down to earth and kindhearted people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. I had just been to France the month prior to visit Franky, Krystel, their staff and many France based Flyboarders, so for me, when the opportunity arose, it was 100% a no-brainer as I had made many friends in France and wanted to continue to develop those relationships. Being able to watch these Flyboarders from different parts of the world is such a great experience. The languages may be different, but their passion for Flyboarding is all the same.
H2RO: Can you share what the atmosphere was like during this project?
As much as one would think that loading 20+ jet skis in the water (some for flying, some for photos) would be a daunting task, everyone worked as a team to make sure each ski was prepared, ready and launched. When the director called a “go”, the flyers strapped in and were off. During the shoot there was so much energy in the water, the excitement was palpable. After the shoot everyone packed up the toys and we all met for a great lunch and even better conversation. Daniel Coheur with Atomic Energy Drink, a Flyboard sponsor in Europe, joined us at lunch and everyone was hyped up and ready for a little high flying fun on what everyone was calling the “bootless” board, a Flyboard without boots!
H2RO: Was there much choreography going on prior to hitting the water with all those riders?
Vincent Lagaf and his son Robin Rouil directed the shoot and certainly shared their vision for the project. So as much as there was not choreographed practice, the Flyboarders understood and executed their concept.
H2RO: In general what would you say are the challenges with photographing Flyboarding? Were there some unique obstacles to overcome during this shoot in France?
Shooting in France is really no different than shooting anywhere else in the world. The biggest challenges with Flyboard photography is anticipating where the riders are going and what they are about to execute so you can prepare the shot. The more you photograph specific flyers, the easier it becomes since you are able to understand their style and how they set up for certain tricks and maneuvers. Photographing the filming of the video did pose some unique ultimatums. With so many great flyers, you simply had to pick one or two out of the bunch and ignore what you were missing!
H2RO: What sort of equipment (Drones..etc) do you involve in your video and photo shoots?
For this trip I simply shot with a DSLR (I have a Nikon 7000 and a Nikon D800) and I use lenses that range from 20-500mm. In the US we use GoPro and have just added a DJI Phantom Drone with a GoPro attachment that we are preparing to master before the North American Shoot in October.
H2RO: With regards to the global Flyboard communities rapid growth, do you feel like there is solid support and camaraderie amongst the dealers and pro riders from around the world?
I believe the Flyboarding community is for the most part a cohesive and banded unit. I think with every rapidly growing business, growing pains are to be expected. Where Flyboarding excels is that no matter what challenges we all face, the passion for the sport pulls you through to the next day. With the Flyboard Family, there is always a ear you can bend to share successes, failures and best practices.
H2RO: Tell us about this North American Flyboard Get Together you’re planning in October? What are some of the things you’re hoping to achieve with it?
The North American Flyboard Family Weekend is being held October 18-20, 2013 at Lake Ray Hubbard in Dallas Texas at the Hilton Lakeside Resort. We have done many events at the Hilton and they are passionate about Flyboard and they are very excited that we have chosen them as the location for this inaugural event. This event emerged from the dream of Jeff Luft, Flyboard Pro in Iowa who wanted to produce a video with all the North American Pro Flyboarders. He shared his dream with Bobby and I almost a year ago and I am happy to be able to sponsor and coordinate the project so that this can happen. With this event we are hoping to achieve what I witnessed in France. North American lovers of Flyboard, gathering together for friendship, fun and flying. With the feedback we have received we are anticipating between 25-40 Flyboards in the water. I don’t think ever in the world will there have been that many boards in the air on the same body of water at the same time. This will be such a great opportunity for US distributors, dealers and rental operators to come together and chat about what works, what doesn’t and how to move the sport forward.
Gretchen, we can’t wait to see the amazing footage and stories that come out of your exciting event and thank you so much for taking the time to share with H2RO Magazine. We’ll stay in touch!