Franky Zapata talks Flyboard Pro Series
Flyboard® is a registered trademark of Zapata Racing
Photos Courtesy of Franky Zapata, Bobby Vance and Mike Podrybau of WetRacer
Futuristic. That’s the first thing we at H2RO thought when seeing the Flyboard Pro Series for the first time. We didn’t appreciate the weight, or functionality yet, just that it looked like how we’d hoped and imagined the board could one day look. Then we saw Franky doing a side by side comparison hammering the plastic pipe of the Flyboard Pro Series versus the Legend board. Another wow moment. Now let me be clear this is not an advertorial post and there are both praise and some constructive feedback found within it. We reached out to both the inventor Franky Zapata and many top Hydroflight athletes who had experience with the 2015 Flyboard to see what we could learn and what this product might mean to the future of our industry.
We begin with our talk with Franky Zapata of Zapata Racing
H2RO 1) Franky, please share with us the process that led you to selecting the material and the functionality you implemented in the 2015 Flyboard. How many prototypes were involved with such a radical change?
We’ve had the idea for a couple of years. We wanted to create a lighter Flyboard® with a new hydraulic design. We gained a lot of experience and knowledge regarding fluid mechanics thanks to the Hoverboard by ZR®. Plus, because the Hoverboard by ZR® is a board you ride without shoes, we developed a very good feeling and control of water-propelled devices.
The composite plastic material we used for the Flyboard Pro Series was a natural choice because it combines lightness and our will to have an economic material. The real question was to know if it would be resistant enough. So we ran several software simulations and took plenty of measurements of the forces on water with a data recording device we specially created.
Then we’ve imagined and worked on two different prototypes. One was extremely easy to handle but was losing too much power so we worked out a compromise. Indeed, Flyboard® efficiency is a deciding factor for each flight centers business success: We aim at providing a Flyboard® that doesn’t need too much power from the PWC (personal water craft) so that flight centers save on fuel costs.
H2RO 2) Please walk through the components of the board that are customizable and how a rider can take advantage of them? Example: What will the variable jet angles help riders achieve.. etc?
Everything is customizable!
Spin system can be active or not, you can block the spin rotation angle in order to learn how to use this new function… Adjustable spring system can make this option active or not: Thus you can switch from a board with independent and free feet… to a solid board, like the legend one. You can also adjust jet angles which allow riders to achieve more tricks such as superman, or allow beginners to fly more easily. When you set the jet angle to the neutral position, you can execute spins easily; when you set the jet angles to the back, it speeds up rotations for tricks like double or triple back flip.
The nozzle diameter is also adjustable: This is the key piece. It allows PWC power adjustments for Flyboard® practice, reduces vibrations and you can set the perfect diameter for a double impeller.
H2RO 3) One of the features of the Pro Series Flyboard is the independent feet. I’m very interested to know what research you and your team did to determine how best to implement this option on the Flyboard? How did you attempt to balance safety and control with the ability of top riders to push the products limits?
We had started to cut the board into two pieces since June of 2012 so that we could spin but it was not stable and not secure enough according to our standards. Plus we realized that this “split into 2 board” was extending apprenticeship for beginners. Because intermediate riders can fly higher, free spinning was getting dangerous. Regarding pro riders, it did add a fun function but it also reduced their ability to do some tricks.
That’s the reason why we wanted to give the opportunity to everyone to try the spin option safely and with stability: The Spring System allows getting back to central position at any time. Pro riders still can remove the spring and test possibilities! (Note: the removal of the spring system is not endorsed by Zapata Racing in their product literature however the simple removal of four screws and it can be done.)
The upcoming 2015 X Dubai Flyboard World Cup will be an excellent opportunity to learn about the adjustments that riders prefer. And as we’ve always done, it will inspire us to develop future improvements and features!
H2RO 4) With the release of the Pro Series board and it’s independent feet option along with the new ZR Jetpack does this signify a change in the business relationship Zapata Racing intends on having with other companies producing hydroflight products?
I actually don’t see how it does affect our relationships: Each of us develops our own products.
We try to build a product range for people from 7 to 77 years old without being concerned by others.
H2RO 5) Before I ask this last question I just want to say thank you for working so hard to continue to innovate and put the athletes that fly your products in the best possible situation to succeed. I think recreational flyers like myself are also going to enjoy the Pro Series a lot. With the new material is there a chance the next version of the Hoverboard would benefit from the R&D that has gone into these 2015 products?
Thank you !
Hoverboard by ZR® is already benefiting from top quality material and the ultimate in modern technology. Right now we’re focusing on the new Flyboard Pro Series which demanded a lot of R&D investment, and the Hoverboard by ZR® & Jetpackby ZR® that require a lot of marketing and market stabilization efforts.
H2RO 6) Anything else you want our audience to know about your 2015 Flyboard Pro Series, Jetpack or future ZR plans?
I would like to thank everybody that trusted me from the beginning.
All the feedback about the new Flyboard® we’ve had so far has been amazing! People say that this is not v4 but actually v10! I’m not very partial, I’ve spent so many hours developing it… maybe the riders and flight centers can give their opinion 😉
Our main desire is, of course to develop the best products, but Zapata Racing’s DNA is above all innovation: We aim at creating other revolutionary devices. The actual market and our relationship with our customers encouraged us to develop the best Flyboard, but now that we have some lead on the market, we can focus on creating non-existing product!
On America’s Got Talent in front of 11 million + viewers, Damone ‘Aquabae’ Rippy gave the Flyboard Pro Series its largest exposure to date. Looking like James Bond and defending some lovelies from the bad guys, Damone really put the independent feet to work spinning in and out of tricks and coming close on a few triples.
Damone was an obvious athlete for H2RO to begin with when collecting feedback on the new board and certainly we look forward to seeing just how incredible his flying on the Flyboard Pro Series will be at this year’s X Dubai Flyboard World Cup.
Flyboard Pro Series Interview with Damone Rippy
H2RO) Damone tells us about your first impression of the Pro Series board when you saw it and when Franky walked you through it’s features?
My first impression of the new Flyboard when Franky was running through everything that one could do with the board, was that now there are so many tricks and possibilities to explore with the new board. It is unlimited the things you can do!
H2RO) After flying the board what can you tell us about how the weight and the adjustable jet angles affect your flying? How can you use the jet options to your advantage?
After flying on this 2015 board, I can tell you that the weight of this board has truly changed the game of Flyboarding. You can barely feel the board on your feet when you are flying it is crazy! You can adjust the jet nozzles to go completely forward, completely backward, or completely straight. This is very cool for all the flyers because now everyone can fly their own customized way.
H2RO) Seeing triples and cork dolphins on your first video flying the Pro Series was rad. Talk to us in detail about what this board means to your flip tricks and also what types of new tricks you’re thinking about trying with independent feet?
This board does wonders, with flip tricks I was amazed at how fast I could flip and how light I felt moving through the air! The independent feet are amazing because a spot has been opened up for brand new tricks and brand new talent to rise so all it takes is some amazing people to make it happen! (Not giving anything away here lol. Guess we’ll have to watch for Facebook videos like the ones below)
H2RO) The first few hundred Pro Series boards have shipped now around the world but there will still be many of your fellow Flyboard competitors who may not have access to it right away. What is your opinion on how the 2015 X Dubai Flyboard World Cup should be run this year? Sounds like riders can choose locked versus unlocked but should we have different divisions or what? I think that the pros having the chance to change whether their board is locked or unlocked is very nice because it means that they are willing to choose the way that they fly and are not being forced to compete one way or the other!
H2RO) Is there anything that independent feet makes more difficult than the legend boards in your opinion? Do you ever choose to lock the Pro Series and go back to more of the original feel?
The new Pro Series has a special type of turning system as it has springs built into the board so you can never go out of control and lose your footing. The Pro Series springs allow you to lock the board back into place with ease and so you feel very safe while doing so! (Franky mentioned in a recent FB post that while unlocked slaloms and regular spins are not really possible)
Posted by Anne Sun on Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Trying some new things on the new 2015 Pro Series Flyboard!
Posted by Damone Rippy-Pro Flyboarder on Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Jake ‘JSmooth’ Orel needs no introduction to our H2RO audience and recently flew the Pro Series at the Redbull Flug Tag event in Portland, Oregon. He had also taken the time to share his thoughts on the Flyboard Family Facebook page and so I’ve include both our interview and key bullets from his review.
- Prefers to set his jets at -7.5 degrees because he feels it provides very strong heel maneuverability.
- Employing the new swivel ring further optimized PWC power allowing for doubles to be landed on a 185 machine.
- Likes the adjustable spring tension so he can throw his original repertoire of tricks without losing control into an unplanned spin.
- Likes that the 2015 comes with rings to adjust the nozzle sizes. Stock is 61mm but Jake likes the additional power you get by going with the 57mm size.
Some feedback from Jake:
- Screws on the underside of the board for foot adjustments were a little difficult to work with
- Even though the board is very light he’d have liked to see the foot bases a little bit smaller.
H2RO Interview with Jake:
H2RO) Jake, when you booted up on the new board what was your first impression as you began to fly? How did you have the board set up for your first flight? (locked, unlocked, jet angle?)
The first time I flew the new 2015 Pro Series Flyboard I was with Franky Zapata, the board was set with the nozzles at -7.5 degrees, I warmed up with the board locked getting used to how it felt, but then about 10 min into it I decided it was time to try out the spin so I unlocked the board (learned I had the springs set a little too loose for my liking).
H2RO) The weight of the board seems to have instantly changed guys ability to flip so I’d like to hear your take on how the board is affecting your big combos and what things you’re now thinking of working on now that you’ve seen the Pro Series capabilities?
The lighter weight is definitely having a factor on the speed of which people can flip, and the speed you can move from trick to trick. I’m personally working on new tricks that can be achieved with the independent feet because there is a lot there to try. I’m also working on upping intensity and amount of tricks but staying smooth at the same time.
H2RO) Share with us your transition to independent feet. Was it fairly seamless or do you still go back to the original Flyboard feel when doing your shows ( assuming you’re flying the Pro Series in Portland and elsewhere?)
The switch to the independent feet was definitely an interesting part of riding the new board. I found myself still bending my knee like I was doing the original spin. But since I have gotten the hang of it I’m constantly changing it while I’m flying but I’d say I have the board unlocked more often than locked.
H2RO) Seeing as how this change is far more radical than any other in the history of the product in your opinion how should the X Dubai Flyboard World Cup this year be handled? Some of your fellow Pro Flyboarders likely won’t have much access to the new product before December so how do we deliver an exciting but fair competition?
Since the change is so drastic and the board is so modifiable it’s hard to say. I think that it’d be best to make it so the 2015 boards are set to the legend settings so if they choose to ride on one it will have a similar feel. And also give them the choice to fly on a set 2015 board or on their personal legend board.
H2RO) Last question I just want to leave open ended as I’ve not seen the Pro Series board in person yet and may not fully appreciate all of it’s benefits. Is there anything else people would want to know about the board itself, how it flies and how it’s going to change Jake Orel’s game at the next World Championship?
One thing about the new board is since there is no water escaping at the swivel there is much more power to be had than before to the point where it may be a little hard to control the first time out. That and the new capabilities and weight of the board is going to make me fly faster and more intense.
Hunter Verlander, one of the few hydroflight athletes to join the Flyboard Legend Triple Backflip club also flew with Jake for the Redbull event in Portland. He shared some thoughts on Facebook and then answered our questions below.
Here are the key points and interview answers the Poison Dart Frog contributed:
- Love how light weight the 2015 board is.
- I like that you can adjust the pitch of the nozzles and I prefer them at – 5 degrees because it helps me stop the board after the trick easier.
- Really like having no water coming out of the swivel due to the rubber gasket.
- Independent feet are taking some getting used to but are awesome.
H2RO Interview with Hunter Verlander:
H2RO) What was your first impression when you flew on the board for the first time? Did you use the independent feet right off the bat or lock it for a while?
Well, when I first got on the board I had the feet locked because I just wanted to fly and do things I already knew how to do, I really didn’t like the feet at first because it was the opposite way I usually spin so I didn’t use it much but as soon as I get back on the board I can’t wait to try the independent feet.
H2RO) You successfully landed a triple backflip on the 2014 board and so I’m interested to know how this board will affect your triple and perhaps make variations or even a quad more likely in the future?
Well when I was first in Portland I flew on a 180 without a dual impeller not only was the power amazing but the lightness of the board made it even better and I think the 15 board will definitely help me with the triple and hopefully a quad.
(Hint, Hint… Hunter is taking this Pro Series board and running with it. It’s freaking us out what we’re hearing.)
H2RO) What tricks are you most stoked to start to learn on the new board? With the way you can spin with independent feet how might you use that to your advantage?
I am really excited to learn the new spinning superman trick that looks really cool and fun to do I can’t wait to try it out also I can’t wait to get more comfortable on the board to do multiple spins on the board and more than a 1080.
H2RO) To your fellow Pro Flyboarding competitors who’ve yet to fly on the new board what would you like to tell them about it to prepare them better for their first flight?
When you first get on the board and try to spin your going to want to bend your knees but try not to, and also try to stand straight and put more force from the hip into the spins and try to keep it. Whenever you do tricks on the board it’s really hard to plant your feet down so try adjusting the nozzles back I personally like them at negative 5 but it’s all what you like. But it’s all about experimenting with the new board, best of luck and have fun with the new Pro Series Flyboard!!
Hydroflight Addict and Jetovation Stunt Pilot Kurt Binter
Kurt Binter, the guy who can fly (or is at least willing to attempt) any hydroflight prototype you can dream up. Kurt is very familiar with boards, bikes and everything in between so we wanted to hear what he thought of the Pro Series.
H2RO) Let’s talk first about the construction of the board. What was your first impression of the look, materials, weight, and functionality?
Everyone in the industry has been eager to see this board in person! We have been taunted for months with pre-production pictures and anticipated function! First glance when you see this device is WOW! Its sharp edges and appeal are instantly obvious and it looks like something truly from the future. And then you pick it up… It’s weight is super light because of the material that was used. Plastic and composites are something that inventors and manufacturers have been playing with for years and to see this all apply to a hydroflight device I believe it to be a bold and potentially risky move. Criticism of plastic components aside this thing is sharp. It comes with a rather complicated locking and limiting system in the center of the board which may cause some issues but time will tell.
Integrated flotation allows this thing to look very streamline which may prove to be some sort of advantage. One of the first things you notice about this device is the pitch of the water jet exit nozzle. Flyboard has gone from an almost straight up and down jet angle to a more out pitched angle like the other devices. One thing I am disappointed in some of these devices that your strapped into coming to the market today is a lack of a quick release from the hose in case of emergency. There is no question that the hazard of drowning is with us hydroflight riders everyday and it has happened where riders have been pulled under the water from the hose being caught on obstructions. This danger is very real and I feel every manufacturer of these types of products should take steps in design and engineering to assure that not if but when an event like this occurs you have more than one release from your equipment other than trying to get out of your boots.
All that aside, it’s time to take this baby for a “Spin!”
H2RO) What history did you personally have with independent feet boards prior to flying the Pro Series and how did you feel this board compared when you first flew it?
Since Flyboard caught my eye in 2012 hanging out with Aquatic Aviation and the original crew Aaron Gould, Paul Bulka, Andrew Hickey and Derrick Dotson I have watched a progression of design in these products and they have come a long way since the 2012 debut of the original Flyboard. I was introduced to X-Jets Jetblade a while back during the filming of the Randy Borrell Hydroflight Video for “Ripfly Watersports” and I was instantly shocked at how much freedom was produced from having independent feet. The spins, the recovery and overall handling of the board was completely different from Flyboard’s fixed platform that I was so accustomed to. Later on Jordan and Chase Finley (My SoCal Riding buddies) became sponsored by X-Jets and that allowed me a lot more time to become more familiar with F.I.F. (Fully independent Feet) The freedom was very addicting and I started to wander from riding the original fixed deck. Soon after I was very fortunate to be introduced to Nick Homer’s invention “The JetDeck” which opened my eyes to a whole different world of flexibility and comfort. I came to the conclusion that independent foot boards are the wave of the future for this particular board market.
It was not long after we started to get leaks from ZR about the Pro Series and that opened up yet another avenue of excitement and anticipation. My first flight on the Pro Series did not do it full justice because we were limited by a 180hp Yamaha and we did not have the boards pivot set to full spin and low tension. But none the less I felt a big improvement over the now dubbed “Flyboard Legend”. The following day was to bring the real test… RXP-X 260, dual impeller, ZR Wireless remote and a beautiful day on San Diego Bay with Scotty Knemeyer and some other Pro’s. FYI, Scotty Knemeyer and I came up with the Acronym S.I.F. or semi independent feet.
Scotty had an awesome run on the board and had his opinions and concerns (Scotty’s Interview is published below) and that’s when I decided to look at the Pro Series board in a different way rather than just comparing it to the other F.I.F. Boards. I started to compare it more to the Flyboard Legend rather than having a closed mind on the devices I’d already rode.
My flight on the 260 I put it up to full height and felt the same stability of the Legend but had the addition to break away to S.I.F. The reason we started calling it Semi Independent feet was for this reason; The limiting device in the center of the board separates it from all the rest in the sense that it is a device of its own. It is a great stepping stone for past Flyboard pilots to enter the F.I.F world in which apparently you can achieve by removing the system in the center. (Franky confirmed that yes it is very easy to remove the spring should a rider want to). I can respect that. You have to set the board up to spin to your level of satisfaction and you also have the option to fly a locked board. A definite huge step up for ZR riders in ZR competitions to make the show more interesting. For riders of F.I.F. boards they may feel restricted compared to the products they are used to riding and may not like it at all.
H2RO) For the people out there who’ve yet to even see the Pro Series in person yet what would you say to them before they first boot up? So you’re ready to try out the Pro Series Flyboard?! Good for you! I am a firm believer that a true Hydroflight enthusiast should try them all! For everyone going to ride the Pro Series for the first time whether you’re a beginner or pro I would consider your board set-up first. Beginners ease your way into the comfort of moving your feet and spinning instead of lifting one leg or the other. Limit the board spin capabilities to your own abilities. You don’t have to be a pro your first time out. For those who have experience and want the best out of the board, set it to the max spin and lowest spring tension or if you want more just remove the entire system in the center but consult Zapata Racing to ensure this does not void your warranty.
H2RO) It might be too early to start talking about version two of this board but if you could imagine the next gen of this Pro Series what would change, improve, stay the same…etc?
- Quick release from hose is very important and all new riders should be taught their releases prior to their first ride. You need to be able to access the hose release while still attached to your boots in the case of emergency.
- The Y pipe bearings are a bit stiff maybe due to the new sealed bearing design, that may loosen up with use
- Removal of the restriction system in the center of the Pro Board (Will that void warranty?)
- The Center stop which loosely locks the board in fixed mode I believe is not necessary.
- The lock pin on hose swivel should be located away from the bend on the Y pipe for easier access.
- Futuristic design will appeal to the majority of the market for the fact that it looks freaking awesome!
- The ability to allow new pro riders to customize their board tension as they progress towards the F.I.F riding style.
- Pro Flyboarders worldwide will take this board to new heights and the vast majority of board riders now have access to the maneuverability that previously only other products have offered.
- The ZR shows and competitions will see new tricks that have not been seen by Flyboarders on a fixed deck.
Flyboard Quebec’s Alex Barreira took his excitement online and we scooped it to add to our article. Here’s what Alex had to say about the Flyboard Pro Series.
- Insane control, movements and tricks are way more precise and easier to execute.
- My confidence level on flying backwards has gone up by 200%. I can now throw tricks like 720-1080+ at 35feet in the air no stress with the spin mechanism.
- The lightness and the power is also a new factor. My 260 engine and supercharger blew up so I was testing it on a GTI 130 and still was able to throw a 720 double and some short superman 720’s.
- Trick repertoire has now more then tripled with the spinning mechanism.
- The look, wow the look is really aggressive and it feels like something from 2020.
- Beginners, I had 3 first time flyers try it. Five minutes locked and fifteen unlocked and right away no more falling on their back. You could see them doing the same thing when trying to survive a back fall… trying to move their feet independently and guess what it worked. They spun a 180 and just didn’t fall. After that they just started controlling better and slowly turning and doing 360’s after fifteen minutes.
- I recommend going gradually down in tension as you get to know your board and the new spin mechanism.
This board is a HUGE game changer and I just can’t wait to see Pro Flyboarders killing it in Dubai. Hopefully from behind the judges table (wink) but surely in 2015 I will do all I can to not miss this World Cup.
As you read Kurt Binter and Scotty Knemeyer were part of the group of Hydroflight athletes that took the Pro Series out for a test flight in San Diego. Scotty also has a lot of experience with the various boards on the market today and we’re happy he took the time to share his opinion with H2RO.
Written by Scotty Knemeyer for H2RO Magazine
This is my opinion on the new 2015 Flyboard Pro Series. My opinion is based off of my experience with the Top 3 most competitive Hydroflight devices on the market today. Flyboard, JetBlade, and JetDeck.
Understanding Fixed/Flat boards vs Independent Feet Boards
In the couple years the independent feet devices have been out on the market I have tested everyone from beginners to professionals. After flying and teaching newbies and pros both with a fixed board and the independent feet boards, it has been clear to me that flyers of all abilities progress much faster with the independent feet versus the flat/fixed devices. It’s as simple as imagining having your feet lassoed together and trying to walk around in all directions versus having the freedom of both feet to move however you desire. It’s a pretty clear cut case that independent feet is the new wave of the Hydroflight world, and the “falling backwards problem” is almost fully eliminated with these independent feet devices (seeing that you can just look over your shoulder and spin easily out of a fall and catch yourself). No more getting dumped into dives unexpectedly while flying!
Flyboard Pro Series Review
1. Design and Styling
5 out of 5
My first thoughts after seeing the new Flyboard was “WOW”, they made some seriously great changes to the overall look of the board. The body lines are as if the board was out of a movie. I like how the floats are built into the board which I haven’t seen yet. I wasn’t so sure about the whole board being built out of plastic for overall strength, but putting it into the hands of the public and other pro’s will put it through the tests of everyday use and abuse. Being plastic has definitely shaved some weight off the previous models. So for packing the board long distances or to different flight locations all the time it’s a plus! Adding the new clear Y-pipe and exit nozzles as a new feature is great and all when in tropical clear blue water… but what about if your in dirty brown water? the pipes are sure to turn into the replicated color of the water your flying. It did look pretty badass in the clear water I was flying in despite the Y-pipe being solid black on the board I flew. (The Flyboard Pro Series shipped with black Y-Pipes as the clear pipes were being put through more vigorous testing and adjusted to meet ZR’s quality control. Customers will have the option of exchanging their black pipe for a clear pipe once available at no extra charge.)
2. In Flight Performance
3.5 out of 5
While flying I couldn’t notice a difference in weight on the 2015 Flyboard seeing that you’re already packing around 100’s of pounds of water, hose and ski while flying. Those few pounds were not noticeable. My honest opinion after flying it was it still flies like a Flyboard with a little more freedom from the S.I.F. (Semi Independent Feet). You still really have to tweak your body in ways that are similar to the old Flyboard to get spins and maneuvers out of it like before. It really takes some effort to activate and hold the S.I.F. system open. For someone that is coming up from a Flyboard “only” background it’s definitely an improvement! But after riding the F.I.F. (Fully Independent Feet) devices and 3rd axis systems you’ll definitely never go back to a fixed/flat board again.
3. New Pro Series Flyboard S.I.F. (Semi Independent feet)
3 out of 5
I like that Flyboard finally went to an independent feet system as a option. Like I described above, it’s a huge upgrade and my tests show beginners and pros progress faster on independent feet. Now there are some good aspects and bad aspects with the style of independent feet system that Zapata Racing has designed. I call it a S.I.F. system (semi independent feet) because of the restrictions of stop pegs and tension return springs. It only allows a small amount of movement, and I noticed it was very difficult to get the feet to pop free. Yes I said “pop free”. It was an awkward feeling to feel like I had to press really hard on my feet in opposite directions to open up the board to independent feet mode. Then it’s a pop!… as if something broke from the board. Once opening up into the independent feet position, if you don’t really focus to hold your feet in that position, the tension return springs will snap the board back to a flat/fixed board which is unsettling when accelerating up into a high altitude spin and the board feels like it’s locked up again. When in a high altitude flight you should’nt have to be thinking about the board locking up into a fixed board position which could cause you to fall out of the sky. So basically, the transition between the two positions wasn’t as smooth and comfortable as I had hoped and that’s coming from someone who was really excited to test this new system out. I was hoping that the springs might relieve some of the effort in my legs, but it ended up straining them even more than before. The transition between the two positions should be seamless, and it’s definitely my opinion that the tension springs and stop pegs are not needed to achieve these results.
(H2RO dug a little deeper into the option of making the Flyboard Pro Series a Fully Independent Feet board to satisfy riders feeling the same way Scotty does and yes with the removal of four screws you can allow your 2015 board to be free of any spring tension. This spring removal however will not be publicly endorsed by Zapata Racing as Franky Zapata feels the best situation is taking at least an hour with the board and fine tuning the tension to your individual preference.)
4. Tension Return Springs and Stop Pegs
2.5 out of 5
Now though having the stop pegs and tension return springs on this board might be good for beginners to learn with… this is the “Pro Series Flyboard” there shouldn’t be any restrictions on this board with springs and stops. If you look at how the stops and springs are tied into the board it feels a little cheap and prone to breaking easily. Especially with an aggressive rider.
(A great test will be at the 2015 X Dubai Flyboard World Cup where, for the first time, we’ll see top Pro Flyboarders push this board in competition)
5. Sealed Bearing
4.5 out of 5
I love that fact that they took the extra time to seal the bearings in the ears of the Y-pipe and swivels from water leaks. It looks better when in flight and using that water loss for power gains through the exit nozzles… I’m all about that!! I know it’s not a lot but still an upgrade. We have yet to see the reliability of them in long term use, but I’m excited about this!!
3 out of 5
Making the exit nozzles adjustable also is something new to Hydroflight devices. I see that helping beginners with learning to stay moving in a forward position. But as a pro I see everyone keeping it in -0- neutral position for the most part.
(Interestingly both Jake Orel and Hunter Verlander have settled on -7.5 and -5 degree angles respectively. So there does seem to be preferences developing with Pro riders even in these early days)
You also have the ability to adjust the independent feet stop pegs. I set mine to full range of motion and return tension to the lightest and it still wasn’t quite enough for my liking. One thing that I was really disappointed in and I’m sure a wide range of riders will be is the boot position. They still haven’t made the boot position adjustable outside the three basic forward and backwards positions. Where’s the left and right movement? I figured after being on the market since 2012 they would have had this issue taken care of. We need the wider stances for the taller riders or for the more aggressive riding styles of the pro’s for more control and stability. This needs to be addressed as it makes for a more rider friendly board for beginners and advanced riders. Also, now that we are having kids so young getting starting in Hydroflight it would be nice to see a more versatile board to help the young ones not feel like they are doing the splits while learning.
2015 Pro Series Flyboard
3.6 out of 5
H2RO is very interested to talk with Scotty again once he’s had a chance to fly the board with the spring system removed. Perhaps some of the ‘pop’ will decrease or be eliminated and it might come closer to the ride he’s after. We know right now he is a big fan of Defy Waterflight’s JetDeck and certainly the adoption of their three-axis system is something we’re following very closely.
H2RO – Our final Thought
It will be very interesting to see where our top athletes take this Flyboard Pro Series board. To his credit, Franky Zapata and his company Zapata Racing are very serious about rider safety and this tension spring debate reminds me of the arms versus no arms transition that occurred back in 2012. From what we have heard was that Franky was a bit resistant to removing the arms for safety reasons and it wasn’t until he viewed the famous Devin Supertramp video Flyboard – Coolest Water Jet Pack Ever (currently at 15.8 million views) that he warmed up to the idea of what riders could do with his product with the arms out of the way.
Once the arms were removed it was like training wheels coming off a bike. This may be how the tension system progresses. Perhaps as more and more top athletes get completely comfortable with the lowest tension settings and full range of motion on the 2015 Flyboard a desire to remove the system completely will become more and more commonplace. If that becomes the ‘norm’ ZR may follow their athletes lead and put out a new version with free feet or simply endorse the option to have the feet be completely free. Franky said to me that he and other top Flyboard riders equate totally free feet to ‘walking on ice’.
In conclusion the 2015 Flyboard Pro Series is getting very good early reviews and everyone seems to be excited to see the trick repertoire expand and never-before-seen moves (like a 1080 triple backflip… yes rumor has it it’s been landed) unleashed on the world. Only time will tell if the very sophisticated testing that ZR employs will ensure that the board and its components hold up to the stresses of flight but we certainly hope it ends up being a big part of the exciting future of Hydroflight Sports.
[H2RO acknowledges the challenge of accumulating non-biased feedback from the top Hydroflight athletes in the world as most have strong (and some formal) affiliations with various product manufacturers]
Bonus: Cooper Riggs gently introducing the spin afforded by the independent feet.
Posted by Atlantic Flyboard on Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Big thanks to everyone who contributed to this article and H2RO wishes those who are training for the 2015 X Dubai Flyboard World Cup all the best. Unlock this Pro Series and get creative!