For my most recent supplier interview, I’ve been talking to Mike from Wet Jets, a company bringing the watersport flyboarding to the masses! So if you’ve ever wanted to try jet packing across a lake, or back-flipping into a lake, or swimming like a dolphin, read on and learn more about this exciting new sport.
1) Please explain your journey as 'Wet Jets' so far.
Wetjets was born after stumbling across a couple of websites showing water jet packs. Nothing like this existed in the UK and anything you could buy was horrendously expensive and only available the other side of the world. Then we found the Zapata Flyboard. Suddenly flying with jets seemed realistic and something everyone could try. We tracked it down and managed to get the first Flyboard into the UK in June 2012.
Since then we've been taking people flying, honing our skills and tackling the regulatory side such as insurance, water authorities, health and safety. With over 200 flying and instructing hours we're one of the longest standing Flyboard operators in the world.
People always think the best part of the job is getting high out the water and showing off - but for me the best part is the smile on a newcomers face when they first get control and get airborne. Everyone tackles it a bit differently but at the end of the day we get everyone into the air!
2) What has been the biggest or most memorable event you've provided?
One of the best shows we did was in Enniskillen for St Patrick's day. It was freezing cold but several thousand people braved the weather and had a great day out. We provided a Flyboard show after the main event with St Patrick and I think we had every camera trained on us the whole time!
We also took Bear Grylls out in Southampton for a play about. As you'd imagine, he wanted to go higher than anyone, do backflips instantly, and take it to the limit wherever he could.
One other achievement - we had the first UK competition in Hartlepool in July - a great day with 12 competitors all going nuts on the Flyboard. Wetjets took first place with a tidy display of dives, twists and flips.
3) Is there any inside information you can give us?
The best advice for any new Flyboarder is to relax. Like when you learn to ride a bike, there's a point when your head connects all the dots and you don't even have to think about what you're doing to balance. The more relaxed you are, the quicker your head does all the work. Then you're in control and starting on the dives and flips!
Another is to get a few friends involved. If you have a half or full day to play with you can work the time to your advantage. Each time you go on the Flyboard you get a little better so a few short sessions rather than one long one will improve your skills quickly.
4) Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you'd like to tell us about?
Next year we will be starting up the UK championships properly with a series of competitions involving all Flyboard operators, leading into the world championships. Anyone is free to get involved and it doesn't take long to get the skills to compete. It's more about your imagination and creativity from that moment onwards.
5) What would you say is your most frequently asked question?
By far the most frequent question - when can I do the backflip? Our answer - as soon as you show the control not to kill yourself trying!
On a more practical note - how do I stop falling over? This one is all about your feet - your toes and heels find the right position to stand you up and your turns are what keep you in control. Think about standing on a balance ball that's moving around. Maybe we should do a training session taking a balance ball onto a bus - or is that another experience?!