Hay’s Daze: Two men and an air chair

You never know what a day is going to bring, really. It could be diamonds; it could be dirt. The other day was definitely diamonds.

The Better Half and the Rotten Kid, the daughter one, and I were all in a bit of a bummer mood, but it was a beautiful warm day. We decided to go for a drive into the stunning autumn kaleidoscope that surrounded us, just to see if it would cheer us up a bit.

Little did we know we would soon be smiling our faces off. Little did we know we’d be roaring along watching someone flying on a chair!

We find ourselves parking at a beach at good old Pine Lake. We get out of the car to go for a semi-sad walk, and we notice two dudes loading a strange contraption onto a boat. So of course, we had to ask several hundred questions.

“It’s called an Air Chair,” one of the guys says. “A Hydrofoil,” says the other. “Say what??” we say.

“Would you like to hop aboard the boat and see how it all works?”

The B.H. and the R.K, noticing that these generous gentlemen hydro-fliers happened to be “very good looking,” and also had a very large and spiffy boat, were basically already climbing aboard before I could say “Pardon me?”

It turns out Mike and Cody were not only the nicest guys, they also turned out to be amazing air chair riders, and great hosts and unofficial spokespersons for the super cool sport of hydrofoiling.

It’s a variation on water-skiing, except that you’re sitting down and you’re sometimes flying three feet above the water. The air chair consists of a small surfboard with a raised seat at the back and footholds at the front. Attached underneath is a long strut (i.e. the foil) 40 inches long, at the end of which is a small “wing.”

The rider straps him or her self into the chair, tips her or himself into the water, grabs the tow rope and – holy moly – that’s when the fun begins.

Cody shouts “Yep!” and ROAR – off we go, and suddenly Cody is up and then he’s literally flying above the water. Like magic, he lifts right out of the water, riding at the top of the strut, and zooming back and forth like it’s easy-peasy. We know it’s not.

“But it’s so smooth!” yells Mike as he pilots the boat. “It really is just like you’re flying!”

And then Cody flies across the wake and BOOM! He flips a somersault 10 feet off the water and lands the wing perfectly and roars at the end of the rope off to the side of the boat. Where he leans into it and flips another perfect high-speed head-over-chair backwards cartwheel!

We three newbies cheer and clap and hoot and can’t believe how a blah day can suddenly become a best day.

The guys change places, all the while answering 4,000 dumb questions (from me) and receiving admiring glances from the Better Half and especially the Rotten Kid. And Mike takes to the air chair and pulls off some more awesome flips. Mike shows how he can “skitter” the hydrofoil along on its wing, and Cody tells us how they get up to 60 riders at a yearly August event at Pine Lake.

For an hour or more we have an extremely excellent time. And on our way home the fall colors are even brighter. And so are our moods. All it takes is two really good people … And an air chair.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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Contributed photo Harley Hay hopped on a boat to learn about hydrofoiling and watch this man at Pine Lake on an air chair recently.

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