Surf’s Up: Freedom in the Water

Riding Free

Water sports are always sure to bring fun and enjoyment for all. But if there’s one watercraft that can allow for the greatest of freedom, it’s the surfboard.

Speeding over the curl of that perfect, cresting wave with a mist of blue water on your face is an experience beyond compare, and the surfboard is the instrument that makes it all possible.

peeding over the curl of that perfect, cresting wave with a mist of blue water on your face is an experience beyond compare, and the surfboard is the instrument that makes it all possible.

Like many sports, surfing can be practiced at virtually any age, but in order to excel, the water demands relentless discipline and athleticism. And it’s not without its share of danger. Ask any surfer, and they will say the risk is well worth the reward. This is a code shared among thrillseekers. Central to success is the surfboard itself, and it has quite a tale to tell. 

Surfboard Story

The surfboard is as an open vessel used for play and for sport on the ocean’s ever-changing current. But the roots of the craft have origins dating all the way back to Peruvian ancients, circa 3,000 BC. These early surf crafts were unearthed by archaeological digs in South America, proving that the prototypical surfboards were employed primarily as transportation modes across bodies of water. Civilizations past made use of the native totora reed (or Californian Bullrush) as the raw materials for their inventive floating devices. Imagine the thrill of that first successful float, heralding the expanse of possibilities for travel and trade. In early use, fishermen were likely to have laid prone atop the vessel. At other times, they are thought to have floated in a kneeling position while making use of a long stick of bamboo as a paddling device through the waters.

Around 300 AD, Polynesian settlers arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, and in tow came their rich he’e nalu culture. At this time, surfboards were quite large by today’s standards. They were essentially fashioned into solid, flat wood planks. Frequently used for fun, these early crafts also played a role in ceremony, training for rulers, and as a means to resolve disputes.

Over the next sixteen hundred years, the surfboard’s evolution reached profound advancements. In the early 20th century, surfing gained mass popularity following the annex of Hawaii by the U.S. government. This fostered an unprecedented growth in surfing culture, and it wouldn’t end there.

Tom Blake introduced the first hollow surfboard, rocking the scene in 1929. This design became the first mass-produced surfboard, and it was picked up by numerous companies. The development of plastics following WWII also changed the game on the open water. A streamlined, big-wave model was introduced to the market in 1950 by George Downing.

The year 1970 saw the advent of Lightning Bolt, whose refined surfboard included none other than a lightning bolt image on deck. This proved to be a stellar business move for the company, as everybody wants to surf in style. In the 90’s, the longboard experienced life anew as lighter, three-finned surfboards became available. 

Shortly after the world entered the 21st century, surfing manufacturers got “on board” with the growing green movement. Using revolutionized bio-friendly materials, these surfboards proved to be a hit among environmentally-savvy surfers. With their playground located within the majesty of the ocean, it’s only natural that surfers embrace this trend.

Daring to Dream

The surfboard’s evolution has allowed for greater and greater advancements in the sport. From humble beginnings as a simple raft to a vehicle for demonstrating incredible athleticism, one thing remains constant: rider, board, and ocean must merge into one. Surfing invites not only an appreciation and awe for the ocean, but for the technological beauty of the surfboard itself. 

Flyboards: The Safest Jetpack Alternatives Around

A flyboard is the closest and safest way to feel like you are jet-powered.

Many facts about the flyboard are also almost, but not quite,  as fun as watching someone pilot it.

What Exactly is a Flyboard?

A flyboard is a brand new invention having been created only in 2011/2012. Basically, it uses water jets to lift up a board platform so you can fly around above the water. The board itself is connected by tube to something that looks like a little boat that floats on the water. The water is sucked up by the boat on the water and pulled up the tube into the air so it can be shot down from the board. So, just like that, you have an instant board that’s water-jet powered.

The nice thing about it is that you’re only ever above water, so it’s a little safer than jetting around on land where your fall is going to be a lot less pleasant. You’re also never going to run out of fuel since the entire lake you’re on is your fuel supply. You’re not very likely to run out of that!

The Flyboard’s Inventor: Franky Zapata

Franky invented the board after being a huge watercraft enthusiast.  It ‘s mesmerizing to watch someone do tricks on the board including backflips, figure 8s, and more. Mr. Zapata first rolled out the board at a Jet Ski world championship in China.

Anyone Can Learn

While owning your own may be out of the question for cost reasons, there are plenty of places to rent them, and the claim is that anyone can learn to ride a flyboard. You just have to have a basic level of fitness to use the vehicle, but people over the age of 50 regularly do it. One site even said that they’ve seen an 89-year-old woman master it in just 5 minutes. So, there’s no age limit, though it may be more difficult to do tricks. However, you still have a shot to fly around on what is essentially like a jetpack.

You can either fly it by yourself with a special module, or you can have another person help control the flow of water up into the jets as well as the unit on the water.

There’s also An Air Version

Zapata invented an air version of the Flyboard that he just calls the “Flyboard Air.” This one requires Franky to wear a backpack full of kerosene that connects to five turbines. Recently, he achieved feats like flying over the English Channel. This version is more difficult to fly and requires a lot more care because it’s dangerous as it can reach up to hundreds of feet in the air. The military is actually interested in possible applications from the device as a way to scout. Zapata got millions of dollars from the French military in the form of a grant to develop the flying machine.

Frank actually had to land on a boat in the middle of the English Channel to refuel before going out the rest of the way. As a result, people call him the “French Green Goblin” from the similarity to the vehicle the supervillain rides.

It looks a lot like the water-based flyboard, except without the secondary tube part. It’s just a platform with an area to strap on shoes and the tubes where the jet air comes out to provide lift and propulsion. Frank has said that it’s tricky to learn to fly since you have to do a lot of flying with leg movements.

Overall, it’s a unique water vehicle that will give you a taste of living in the future.