Watch Franky Zapata Hoverboard in Toronto and listen to H2RO Magazine’s exclusive interview during the Flyboard North American Championship weekend
Hoverboard by ZR®
Getting the chance to see Franky Zapata Hoverboard in Toronto during the Flyboard North American Championship was an awesome sight. The newest water sport from the Zapata Racing team looks like so much fun and has already proven it has what it takes to become another exciting sport for the world to embrace. H2RO is very excited to bring you the most comprehensive Hoverboard interview with the inventor himself. Franky Zapata shares his Hoverboard journey, the technical challenges with creating the board and even discloses who the first person to land both the back and front flip was.
With the Jet Ski world against him, Franky Zapata felt his business was going to crash if he didn’t find something unique that could be all his own. While on vacation with his family the vision of a flying wakeboard wouldn’t leave his mind and when he realized that his Jet Ski could produce enough thrust to easily lift a person the formula for personal flight was beginning to take shape. In these early days, the Hoverboard proved to difficult and his thoughts shifted to what we now know as the original Flyboard.
(Franky Zapata pictured below flying with the arms which were meant to increase stabilization but have now been retired)
- Franky Zapata’s very first idea was the Hoverboard by ZR® not the Flyboard
- After working on the Hoverboard for two months he was unable to make the idea work.
- The Flyboard idea was easier to build so ZR shifted its focus onto it.
- Franky honestly forgot about his first ‘Flying Wakeboard’ idea as his Flyboard took off around the world.
- A friend who had lost an eye, and therefore couldn’t enjoy the heights that the Flyboard was great for, asked Franky to build him something that would allow him to fly and surf close to the water while still allowing him to be in full control of the propulsion like Flyboarding with the EMK.
- It was Franky’s wife Krystel that reminded Franky that what he was actually back working on was his very first idea… the one that didn’t work.
- Even with a now stable and successful company, money for R&D, and armed with all of the knowledge the Flyboard had given ZR it still took 9 months and 35 prototypes to get the Hoverboard by ZR® to market.
Photo courtesy of Liam McKenna
July 2014 will see the worldwide release of the Hoverboard by ZR® and the fulfillment of a four year journey. Zapata Racing has brought water sports to new heights and now the world can choose to fly great distances quickly on the Hoverboard or boot up into the Flyboard and enjoy the sensation of flying high. Both the Hoverboard by ZR® and Flyboard allow the pilot to execute amazing freestyle tricks and will be available for purchase separately or as a package.
- The Hoverboard was the most difficult project of Franky Zapata’s life
- The Flyboard needed to move independent of the hose, the Hoverboard needed to be rigid and stabilized by the hose.
- All 35 Hoverboard prototypes worked with varying degrees of success but it wasn’t until the oval shape of the nozzle under the board was employed that the aggressive curvature created the correct water speed and thrust to provide the perfect ‘hover’ experience.
- The Hoverboard will work with the same hose and hardware as the 2013 and 2014 Flyboards.
- Hoverboarding is very similar in movement to snowboarding and could become a great training mechanism for Pro Snowboarders during summer months or when building muscle memory for new maneuvers. To fall on water or hard packed snow… you decide?
- The Hoverboard will see less modifications in the coming years than the Flyboard has seen in its short history.
- The Flyboard and Hoverboard can be purchased as a package or independently. Talk to an authorized dealer in your area about product availability.
We don’t know whether the title of the World Cup will change (ZR World Cup ?) to accommodate the inclusion of the Hoverboard in 2015 but H2RO spoke with Franky off camera about his vision for future competitions and here is what we’ve learned.
The sport of Flyboarding and the sport of Hoverboarding will come together to create a World Cup that will include judged freestyle trick competitions as we’ve had with the Flyboard World Cups and will add a slalom Hoverboard race.
Franky has already been testing what I’m about to describe so things have progressed beyond just the idea stage.
Imagine a wall of water with incredible laser light displays (if you’ve seen the official Flyboard Show then you’ll know what I’m describing…see above) and behind it are two pilots on Hoverboards with their Jet Skis full throttle but not moving due to a large magnet holding the competitors stationary. Hovering a few feet above the water and poised to take off, the magnetism is turned off sending each competitor at exactly the same moment (no false starts here) soaring forward through the wall of water and into a slalom course with which they must navigate down, pull a hard hairpin turn around the last buoy and race back through towards the water wall, which is both the start and the finish line. As each competitor comes out of their last buoy and approaches the wall they must pull a trick through the water wall to have their run counted.
This type of head to head racing will certainly add a tremendous element to the fan experience as winners are immediately identifiable and best of all Franky Zapata himself says he just might compete in this type of race.
There are no politics or judges scores to worry about with a head-to-head race like this and so this would be a fun opportunity to return in some way to my competitive Jet Ski racing days. – Franky Zapata
Now I know the questions will come in to us here fast and furious…
- Will a pilots weight play a factor on staggered starts or Jet Ski power allotment?
- Do all World Cup competitors have to compete in both the freestyle and racing events?
- Will there be a stand-alone independent Hoverboard freestyle competition and Flyboard freestyle competition?
- Because the slalom Hoverboard race is a timed event and not judged what constitutes a ‘freestyle trick going over the finish line?’ … just a board grab?
We could go on and on but we’ll let all of you chime in and do our best to answer your questions via our social channels and here in the comments.
So…. to sum it up… holy sh%t ! The world of water sports has yet again been revolutionized by Zapata Racing and as the planet begins to Hoverboard I’m sure we’ll all begin to dream more clearly about what these future competitions could look like. Pro Flyboarders will be adding Hoverboarding to their resumes and I’m sure we’ll have some sick Hoverboarders who started here and don’t have any real history with the Flyboard.
The one thing that is certain, if you Flyboard, Hoverboard or both Zapata Racing has changed your life in the coolest of ways. Thank you in advance for sharing this post and introducing the Hoverboard by ZR® to all of your friends.
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