Short of donning a personal jet pack flyboarding is as good as it gets, raves Timothy Ash.
The 24-year-old Edmontonian checked out the fast-growing sport at Sylvan Lake on Friday afternoon and came away impressed.
“That’s pretty incredible,” he said. “How can you really get better than a personal jet pack. That’s the closest thing to it.
“I think everybody should try it.”
Laila Lawrence, 23, also took her first flyboard flight on Friday and had a blast.
“It was super fun. I would definitely recommend it.”
Lawrence, who waterskis and wakeboards, said while it’s not that difficult there is definitely a learning curve.
“I kept bending my knees and then it would make me fall.”
But she soon got the hang of it and is looking forward to trying it again some day.
Alberta Flyboard Inc. has been offering flyboard lessons for three years at Sylvan Lake.
This year, they have expanded their previous mobile operation by opening an office next to SunSport Recreation behind Chateau Suites at Sylvan Bay.
Alberta Flyboard co-owner Brody Wells is one of four certified instructors based out of Sylvan Lake. The company also has four instructors spread between Wabumun, Jackfish Lake and Cold Lakes.
He first heard of flyboarding several years ago and immediately was drawn to the adrenaline-pumping sport.
Before he and business partner Rodney Biggar had even tried flyboarding they secured dealership rights.
“After we actually got on it it was as good or better than we had ever imagined,” he said.
They set up their business in 2012 and expanded the rental side of the venture last year.
Flyboarding first drew attention in 2011. The board is powered by the engine of a personal watercraft such as a Sea-Doo. High-pressure water passes through a 30-metre hose to the flyboard itself, which pushes people into the air through a pair of water jets.
A light rider using a powerful watercraft for propulsion can soar as high as 15 metres, he said.
After a 20-minute orientation session, riders are set to go. Based on Friday’s riders, it seemed that it took only a few minutes for them to get the hang of it enough to soar a couple of metres or so above the water.
Wells said the Sylvan Lake location has been doing really well.
“Last weekend, I think we had 80 people come through the doors in one day, which is just absolutely phenomenal for a new business.
“We’re just continually rolling with it.”
Besides rentals, Albert Flyboard offers sales, service and installation, and a three-hour certification course for those who want to buy one.
A flyboard costs about $7,000, plus $750 for an adaptor kit and $350 for the certification course.
Wells, who has always loved water sports such as water skiing and wake boarding, has become a top notch flyboarder. He has represented Canada at the world championships, which were last held in Qatar.
He, Biggar and two other Canadians were the only ones from this country to compete in the event, which is judged on tricks such as somersaults and twists and height achieved. He finished sixth in 2012 and 22nd last year.
“It’s a rapidly growing sport. There’s a lot of young new talent that have a lot of great technique out there.
“We’re carefully watching and coaching ourselves.”
Renters must be at least 16 and less than 350 pounds (157 kg). First-time flyers must pay $29 for a basic course. Then flyboard rentals cost $89 for a half hour up to $219 for a one-hour lesson.
Group lessons are available for $185 per hour plus $20 per person for a minimum two people and a minimum two hours. The company also takes its flyboards on the road for parties or corporate events.
For more information go to www.albertaflyboard.com. Also check out Team Canada Flyboard on YouTube to see Wells and other instructors in action.