Photo courtesy of Pro Flyboarder John Albinsson
Many of us that have gone Flyboarding have had our power controlled by a certified instructor on the Jet Ski. In fact if you’re a beginner that’s really how you must start. The instructor is trained to properly control the riders height in the air, kill the power should they start flying towards the ski or when they fall and basically give new riders a fun, controlled experience. But true control over your flight can only come with using the Electronic Management Kit. Sure you should still have someone sitting on the Jet Ski watching the rider in case of emergencies but the throttle and power delivered to the rider is now controlled by the rider.
Pro Flyboarders who fly using the EMK will never go back to someone else at the throttle. I thought it would be interesting to hear from a few of the top riders in the world about the benefits of flying with total control.
Trey Andrews is the top Pro Flyboarder in the United States. He competed and finished 3rd in the World Cup. I asked him the following two questions about the Flyboard’s Electronic Management Kit:
1) What was the learning curve like when you transitioned to the EMK?
The learning curve is pretty steep, meaning it’s hard to start using the EMK but once you get the hang of it you will never want to be “driven” again. Let me explain. There is an inherent delay in using the EMK. For example you want to let off the throttle but instead of releasing just a little bit you let go of the throttle and then squeeze it again. The servo motor then goes all the way to zero and back to 100% which generally causes the person using it to 1.Drop and 2. Do some kind of crazy roll on the surface of the water. I wish I had a video of it.
2) What are the biggest benefits to flying with the EMK including how it affects your tricks?
You gain so much more control. For example when doing a back flip you can increase or decrease power throughout the flip or if you think you are going to flip the ski you can feather the throttle to get the hose to drop into the water. If you follow the instructions and stay in the 3rd light for the recommended amount of time (10 hrs, I think) the learning curve is much better!
Interesting point about feathering the throttle ‘if you think you are going to flip the Jet Ski’ because in the finals of the 2012 World Cup both Trey and Srirang Sataporn (4th place) flipped their Jet Skis affecting their score. Riders have now had much more time to work on flying with the EMK and that experience will really help at the next big competition.
Alexander Maravegias is another top US rider who competed and finished 34th in the first ever World Cup. His thoughts were very clear on this subject “It’s the only way to Fly”
As far as the EMK goes that’s really the only way to Flyboard. Once you use it you won’t want to go back. It’s the true way to fly. At first it takes about ten minutes to get used to the throttle but once you get it down you have more possibilities with tricks. It opens you up to doing dock landings and dock starts which is my favorite part I must say. The feeling of you being in control of your Jet Ski is a very different feeling while flying as opposed to having someone else controlling your power. Flying with the EMK is in my opinion the best way to Flyboard, and the only true way to train for competitions.
I think with the EMK, as long as it’s working correctly, it is amazing because with the EMK you can control the tension on the hose as well as your power. When I tell someone to fly me I say I want full throttle the whole time which uses a bunch of gas and promotes more wear and tear on the Jet Ski. Honestly when you fly you don’t need full throttle the whole time, only on your big tricks is when you really need it so the EMK control is optimal for flying because it benefits the rider as well as the Jet Ski.
As I was on the phone with top Canadian Pro Flyboarder Brody Wells we got on the topic of the EMK and so below is a portion of our conversation. (I’ll link this up to his entire interview once it’s live)
Brody: Last season was the first time I had tried the EMK and I just absolutely fell in love so this season I went out and bought the exact same Jet Ski that we were using in Qatar, the 255 model, and installed the EMK and tried to mimic what we were doing over there and it just up’d our riding styles so much.
Brody: Absolutely and that’s something that we’ve done a lot of this season is trying to get out on that EMK and try and understand the dynamics of how that hose actually reacts and acts while you’re doing tricks and how to prevent any incidents from happening because that was one of the major drawbacks from the first World Championship was people rolling their own Jet Ski.
H2RO: I had heard about some incidents with that and also the finickiness of the throttle…
Brody: It’s not as gradual as one might think if you let off 50% for the trick it doesn’t necessarily react the same way you would think a normal throttle would so you’re probably letting off more like 80% of the throttle and you end up in the water again. So that was a major learning curve especially learning on the spot, there was no practice or anything going into the World Championship so it was just get out there throw your best tricks and give it a 100% otherwise you’re going home.
H2RO: Now there is a newer version of the EMK so is that the one you installed?
Brody: Yes we initially installed the 2012 version of the EMK this season and got riding on that and just recently did the installation on the 2013 board as well.
H2RO: Were there improvements with the throttle control or any other aspects between the two models?
Brody: It was mainly with the installation that I found drastic differences and it just made it a much more streamlined installation process. Made it really easy to install and I find just overall the whole package is just more reactive.
So…. to my fellow beginner/intermediate flyers out there it looks like if we’re loving the sport so far, having only been flown with someone else at the throttle, then we’re going to LOVE transitioning over to the Electronic Management Kit. The EMK will no doubt continue to improve and by the time many of us are on it the issues raised by these pro riders will likely be a thing of the past.
Franky Zapata was quoted as saying
“We are currently working on a new project that was the initial idea. The Flyboard was a step to analyze the feasibility of my first idea. We can’t tell you anymore about it at the moment.” (psssst… it was the Hoverboard by ZR)
This statement is VERY exciting because I know some of the dealers out there have been given a taste of what’s to come and this sport is on the verge of huge technical innovation which will propel Flyboarders around the world to new heights!
UPDATE: The video dealers were seeing was a look at the Air Flyboard that ZR unveiled during France Has Incredible Talent. Now we all anxiously await the new ‘No Hose’ atomic engine Air Flyboard plus many exciting innovations with the entire product line in 2015.