Last week I went out to Lake Las Vegas to research and participate in some water sports for an upcoming Zip Code Magazine article. After a few hours of note taking and some photography, I was about to head home when a long-haired ginger fella approached me.
"Hey, I'm Sean. I'm going to get some practice in on the flyboard so if you want to stick around and take some photos, that'd be great."
Honestly, I had just finished photographing a family of three "newbies" trying to stay up on the fly board (with little success) and not knowing Sean's experience, I figured it would be more of the same... aloft on the board for a few seconds and then a plummet into the water. But! the sun was settling into a nice position in the afternoon sky and with Sean's long hair and tattoos, I figured he'd make a good subject. I decided to stick around.
Folks, what I was privileged to witness over the next 30 minutes left me utterly speechless and flabbergasted! This cat could surf the sky! He performed back-flips, barrel rolls, cork-screws and loops. He stretched the 80' fire hose to it's limits and hovered 7 stories in the air! He'd arch across the sky horizontally - posed as if he was laying on a sofa - and disappear into the water only to pop-up a few meters upstream while still holding the same lazy position!
What Sean didn't tell me (but I learned later from his website) is that he's only been Flyboarding (also known as Hydroboarding) for two years and he's already ranked within the top 30 Flyboarders in the world!
If not familiar with the sport, Flyboarding is a fast growing (and even faster evolving) water sport where the participant straps a pair of water jets to their feet and a hose (anywhere from 50' to 80' long) is retrofitted to a nearby jet ski that acts as the pressure pump. The flyboarder holds a pistol grip device in one hand and can control the amount of water pressure shooting out from under him. Steering is accomplished simply by leaning fore and aft, and raising your left or right foot to turn.
Sean Ray has a busy year coming up. He'll be heading-out on a National tour soon and will also be competing in the World Championships in France this summer. He's one of only 5 Americans who qualified and trust me, Las Vegas is pulling for him!
Click on the gallery below to view more photos of the insanity!