Flyboarding is one of the latest water sports to take off in Orange County.
By Jessie Dax-Setkus
Ever wanted to fly? For anyone who has dreamed of taking to the sky without the assistance of an airplane, Fly Jet Sports makes the sensation possible, offering Flyboarding experiences in Newport Beach, Dana Point and Long Beach. Sure, you have to strap yourself into a motorized Jet Ski of sorts, but it’s fairly simple to learn the basics. One outing is all you need to become hooked and dream about returning for more flight time above the Pacific Ocean.
We caught up with Gus Caicedo, owner of Rubato Productions Inc., the parent company of Fly Jet Sports, to see why famous athletes, business leaders and everyone in between is flocking to this fun summer activity.
What exactly is Flyboarding?
Gus Caicedo: Flyboarding is the activity of flying above the surface of the water. … Basically, you strap on something that is very similar to a wakeboard, which is almost like a snowboard. … [The Flyboard] is attached … [by a hose] to a Jet Ski. The power that would normally come out of the back of the Jet Ski is now funneled to the 50-foot hose that comes out of the jets that are coming out of the bottom of the board. This elevates you above the surface of the water.
How did you become involved with Flyboarding?
I was attending a conference in Long Beach in July of 2012, and it happened to be by the water. This individual comes flying by around 20 feet off the ground with a jetpack. … I thought it was the most awesome thing in the world. I immediately booked a flight with them. … I had a great time, and when I inquired about the cost … at that time [it] was $100,000. Now, my company is Rubato Productions Inc., which is a product development organization located in Orange County. We’ve been designing products for the aerospace and medical industries, to name a few, for over 20 years. When they gave me the price, I said, “That doesn’t make any sense.” … The experience led my company to design a jetpack, but … using an actual Jet Ski for power … and that led to the Flyboarding we have today.
Are there any risks involved?
There is risk to all levels of water sports—that goes without saying. The important thing is that we eliminate or minimize the risk. When the individual is in the water, and the jets are propelling, that individual is not only steering himself, but he is also dragging the Jet Ski behind him. The throttle is actuated by the instructor that is sitting on the boat. We take all precautions to ensure that everything is well controlled and monitored.
What are the logistics?
Our first flight for beginners will last about 30 minutes. The reasoning for that is … beginners get very tired—there is a bit of a learning curve. We take you out on a boat like you are parasailing, we find a quiet spot in the open water, the flyer jumps in the water, they put the board on and we teach them to maneuver the Flyboard around the boat. When you do fly, you fly around the boat so people can get pictures of you. Flyboarding does not move very fast once you are flying. The speed we’ve been able to achieve is about 5 miles per hour. You normally just hover in place. As for how high you go, we normally take first-time flyers several feet above the surface of the water.
Can you share some advice for first-timers when Flyboarding?
First, the water in California is not as warm as some other areas. In some parts of the year, namely the summer months, there isn’t as much of an issue. However, we fly year-round, and the water [can be] extremely chilly. Having a wetsuit is the No. 1 piece of advice we give everyone who wants to Flyboard. You should also bring towels and a change of clothing so you can be dry and warm after your flight.
Is Flyboarding a good activity for kids to enjoy?
Yes, we have had kids as young as 12 years old out there flying. Flyboarding is about strength and agility; if you are under 100 pounds, we have noticed you might not have the strength to Flyboard. However, kids about 12 years old and over 100 pounds have had a really, really good time.