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Recreation: Is hoverboarding the next big water sport?

Published July 31, 2014 9:24 am

Water hoverboards are the next big thing, say insiders, and are set to be unveiled in Utah.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The riders soar high into the air on what appears to be a hybrid of a snowboard and skateboard, a jetstream of water flowing behind them and crystal clear blue water shimmering underneath.

The video from June has long since gone viral, a showcase of the potential future of water sports where aerial tricks and flying replace longstanding sports of jet skiing and wakeboarding.

These are water hoverboards, the next generation of the flyboard technology introduced to Utah last year by Rocky Mountain FlyBoard, scheduled to be unveiled as early as this week.

Thom Hall, co-founder of Rocky Mountain Flyboard, said the hoverboard is ready to take the water sports world by storm, making other sports like wakesurfing "look so last year."

"I'm booking 20 to 25 miles per hour on top of the water and I'm floating five feet above the water," Hall said. "It's a totally unique experience."

Rocky Mountain FlyBoard expects to receive just over 20 hoverboards to start, all of which are sold out to private buyers. However as production is ramped up and safety tutorials are conducted, hoverboard rentals will be available at Jordanelle Reservoir near Heber City.

Flyboard rentals are currently available at Jordanelle, Quail Creek State Park, Sand Hollow State Park and Deer Creek State Park for a range of $99 for an intro flight experience to $350 for a group of three to five people.

Hall also said the company is planning to roll out a new location in the Salt Lake Valley by the end of this season or early next year, as well as an expansion into Las Vegas.

After zero injuries from the introduction of the flyboard, Hall said the next step is to pattern the hoverboard rollout in the same way, making sure there's an adequate number of instructors to make the activity as safe as possible for newcomers and veterans alike.

"That was our concern right from the start. If you've got fatalaties or someone getting really hurt, that's going to end the industry," Hall said. "Because of the training, I think that's really helped that not to be a problem."

Jordan Wayment, who was raised in Ogden, started out pursuing professional wakeboarding, but was quickly dissuaded by a younger generation more likely to garner attention and sponsorships.

He changed his focus to flyboarding, quickly becoming one of the sport's top riders with a ninth place finish in the 2013 Flyboard World Cup in Qatar. Wayment was hired as a rider for the hoverboard video shoot in Cancun, landing the first recorded backflip and frontflip on a hoverboard.

"If you look at other sports like wakeboarding, you already have the legends and the guys that landed the first double flip on the wakeboard," Wayment said. "I like that I'm helping build the foundation of this sport that hopefully maybe I can become a legend and people know who I am after I can't do it anymore."

He said people that see the hoverboard for the first time get "cross-eyed" or "hypnotized" as the riders fly by, but that both sports are approachable and easy to pick up for anyone willing to try.

"You don't have to have any type of sports [background], you don't have to have any kind of athleticism," Wayment said.

Hall expects the sport to continue to grow, the next logical step for thrill seekers that like to strap into a board and cruise.

"I think as people see the hoverboard showing up on lakes, you'll get a lot of people that are the wakeboard, snowboard and skateboard crowd that are like 'I can do that, I can relate to that,'" Hall said.

As for Wayment, who cut his teeth on Utah waters, there's no equal to his home in growing a new water sport.

"I've traveled the world, I've been to Tel Aviv, Rome, Vietnam, Hong Kong. There's no better place than Utah," he said.

bsmith@sltrib.com

Twitter: @BrennanJSmith —

Learn more

For more information on the flyboard and hoverboard, visit http://rmflyboard.com/index.php. Flyboards can be rented at Jordanelle Reservoir, Quail Creek State Park, Sand Hollow State Park and Deer Creek State Park for a range of $99 to $350. —

Online: Video of hoverboarders

O See a video of hoverboarders in action. > http://bit.ly/1nKtXkM