By: Megan Pasche | Photos by: David Haskell
FlyBoarding is the newest and coolest extreme sport to make it’s way to Niagara and it’s accessible to anybody who wants to give it a try. If you’ve ever dreamt of flying (and who hasn’t?), then this is the water sport for you.
Owner Craig Bagshaw started up FlyBoard Niagara in June of this year, and said that to put it simply, FlyBoarding involves attaching one end of a 60-foot hose to a Jet Ski and the other to a board that has boots attached to it. The water that normally propels the Jet Ski, instead goes through the hose and propels the person on the board into the air.
It is a sport that originated in France in 2011 when a champion Jet Skier named Franky Zapata invented the idea. Craig notes that Zapata posted a video on YouTube of the FlyBoard in action and it went viral incredibly quickly. He initially made the FlyBoard just for himself, but soon discovered there was commercial viability there. Fast-forward a couple years, and as Craig says, “there is virtually not a spot on this earth that you won’t find a rental FlyBoard place now.” All the equipment still comes right from France and Zapata remains in control of the brand worldwide.
FlyBoarding gives the rider the opportunity to fly up in the air like a superhero or dive through the water like a dolphin. Craig says, “I’ve always loved adventure type things, and when I first saw it originally, I was just going to buy it for myself, but I took a look around and saw that it hadn’t been in Ontario yet, and I thought it would be a perfect fit for Niagara Falls.” It is currently one of the few adventure type activities that is available in the Niagara area.
It’s a suitable activity for those 12 and up (whomever is participating has to have at least a size five shoe, so their feet stay in the boots). There is a short learning curve, about three to ten minutes, and then, Craig says, “once they get in the air, something clicks and they get their balance.” First time fliers generally just stick to the basics of flying up in the air or diving like a dolphin. The more times you try it though, the more tricks you learn. Craig’s son, Tyler Bagshaw, who helps run the company with his dad, has only been FlyBoarding for a couple of months, but is already almost at a level where he can participate in competitions (of which there are many: there is a world championship in Abu Dhabi every year, and the North American championship just recently took place in Toronto).
The location of FlyBoard Niagara is quite picturesque (right along the Welland River), and there is lots of beautiful scenery to take in while you are hovering up there in the air. It is also a great place to spend an afternoon, either having a picnic in the nearby park while watching other FlyBoarders, or dining at the licensed restaurant on site.
Craig notes that the worst injury he’s ever seen is just a stinger from a belly flop, which happens sometimes when falling back into the water (you are supposed to dive back in, but hey, we can’t all be graceful swans.) Safety is of the upmost importance, and during your flight, you will be wearing a helmet and a life jacket. In the part of the river that FlyBoarding takes place, boats are only permitted to go 5mph, so there are no boats speeding by you as you are flying.
This is the perfect activity to be added to the list of things to try when in the Niagara area. It is only a 10-minute drive from the hotel district, and Craig notes that if people have trouble getting to the boat club, they can give him a call to discuss transportation options. Reservations are highly recommended, especially if you are planning to go on a weekend.
Craig relates, “this is something participants will be talking about forever…it is a breathtaking, awe-inspiring adventure.”
[box type=”shadow” ]Details:
You can find more information at flyboardniagara.ca or call 1-877-293-0624. Booking can also be made directly through the website. FlyBoard Niagara is located at the Greater Niagara Boating Club at 4649 Lyons Creek Rd, Niagara Falls, Ontario.
$149 for a 30-minute flight
$249 for a 1-hour flight (can be split between 2 people)
$59 to add a helmet camera video [/box]
“this is something participants will be talking about forever…it is a breathtaking, awe-inspiring adventure.”