Hunter Verlander performs a double backflip at the 2015 North American Flyboard Championship in Shreveport

Hunter Verlander performs a double backflip at the 2015 North American Flyboard Championship in Shreveport

Flyboarding taking off on Vancouver Island

From a distance, the sport of flyboarding might look a bit ridiculous.

From a distance, the sport of flyboarding might look a bit ridiculous.

Riders tie a board onto their feet, fasten their lifejacket and helmet, strap a jet ski onto their back, wade out to Ogden Point and try to stand up straight in the water.

Harnessing the power of a jet ski, the propulsion of the water shoots down a 60 foot hose and out the bottom of the board. The water pressure propels the rider several feet into the air. A hand-held throttle allows the rider to do backflips and move around in the air.

“It’s so fun. You’re flying, you’re controlling your flight,” said Blaine Jeffery, a Saanich resident and flyboard enthusiast. “A lot of things, you go up and go back down. But with this, you can stay up, fly around and look at the water and the trees. You really do feel like you’re a superhero.”

The unusual sport was invented by Franky Zapata and made its debut in 2012.

Riders can go out almost any day of the year (barring strong winds and choppy waters) and practice, doing variations of backflips, spins, dives and reverse tricks. There are different ways you can grab the board and style tricks as well.

According to Jeffery, the keys to the sport are following instructors’ advice, keeping your legs straight up on the way up and then tip-toeing forward.

“It’s a subtle dance that gets you moving, going up and down. It’s a lot less dramatic than some people think,” he said, adding if you fall, it’s like falling into a pool. “You can get going with very little movement.”

However, there is an extreme element to the sport, in which riders can fly as high as 60 feet in the air and do tricks.

Over the past few years, the sport has taken off across the world, including on Vancouver Island, since almost anyone of any athletic ability can do it.

Jeffery first heard about flyboarding in 2013 after seeing a YouTube video that went viral. After attempting to do research about it, he came up empty handed. That’s when he decided to create H2RO Magazine (pronounced hero), an online publication dedicated to flyboarding and its athletes.

Jeffery will be covering the Flyboarding World Championships in Dubai from Dec. 3 to 5 for H2RO Magazine, where 40 flyboarding riders, including six from Canada, will be competing in the championships.

For more information on the sport visit H2romagazine.com.