Dare devil visitors will get the chance to be the first in Wales to try out a spectacular new type of watersport set to make a big splash in Conwy.
The company that brought flyboarding – already tried by Hollywood stars like Leonardo DeCaprio, Tom Cruise and Vin Diesel – to the UK will be showcasing the adrenalin-fuelled craze for the first time at the All Wales Boat Show.
One of the highlights for visitors at this year’s show, to be staged at Conwy Quay Marina from May 30 to June 1, will be the opportunity to try flyboarding themselves with expert instructors in the safe waters of the marina.
A flyboard is a type of water jetpack connected by a long hose to a powerful jet-ski through which gallons of water are pumped at high pressure.
Water is shot out through jet nozzles beneath the feet of the rider who can be lifted up to 15 metres in the air. By using two hand jets the rider can change the direction of their flight.
It’s been described as flying like a bird while swimming like a dolphin and more accomplished flyboarders can go on to perform manoeuvres like spins, back-flips and dives.
According to Mike Dear, whose company, the Dumfries-based Wetjets.co.uk, pioneered the sport in Britain, it’s something which is rapidly catching on across the world and is popular with people of all ages.
Mike, 41, who is head of sales and training, said: “The flyboard was invented in the spring of 2011 by a French watercraft rider called Franky Zapata.
“My family and I were looking at a few different options for starting a business and we heard about flyboarding. It sounded like something that was exciting and a real novelty, so we decided to bring it to Britain.
“We’ve also demonstrated it at a couple of boat shows but bringing it to Conwy will be the first time it has been available to try at a show in Wales.”
“What my family and I love about flyboarding is that it’s brand new, gives you a real adrenalin buzz and isn’t that difficult to learn. I’d say most people can be up and be flying within about 10 minutes and self-sufficient after three or four lessons.
“Some big-name stars have been spotted trying it and I think it would lend itself perfectly to an action movie like a Bond film – with weapons attached!
“It’s also a sport virtually anyone can do providing they don’t have any health problems. For safety reasons we’ve set a lower age limit of 16 but last March we had a guy of 67 doing it on Loch Auchenreoch, near Dumfries, which was still partially frozen at the time.
“Guys and girls are equally enthusiastic about it but I find that, because they tend to be less excitable than men, girls are easier to teach.”
Mike said that Wetsjets would have flyboards available for anyone to try on all three days of the All Wales Boat Show, offering a 10-minute lesson for just £40.
He said: “For many people this will be a one-time-only chance to give it a go and I’m hoping that once they’ve tried it they’ll get an appetite to for the sport.
“As there aren’t too many people who are good at it in the UK at the moment there’s even the possibility they could go on to take part in the British Championships, which my company is organising this autumn at a venue yet to be arranged, and perhaps even the World Championships.
““We’re all really looking forward to coming to the All Wales Boat Show to showcase this fantastic new sport.”
This year’s show will be officially opened by the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates, and organisers are promising even more glitz this year.
Sunseeker Yachts – whose cruisers have featured prominently in several Bond movie blockbusters – are returning with an even bigger vessel.
In addition, two other luxury motorboat makers, Fairline and Sealine, will also be dipping their toe in the water this year, along with high end sailboats from Hanse and Delher.
Meanwhile, there will be luxury cars from Rolls Royce, Bentley and McLaren and motorbikes from Harley Davidson and even a helicopter.
At the other end of the spectrum, there will be paddleboarding, coracles and bath-tub racing.
The show is being billed as a Celebration of Welsh Coast Life and the aim is to tap into the huge potential of the marine leisure industry which already pumps around £200 million into the Welsh economy every year.
A study following the inaugural All-Wales Boat Show last year revealed £1 million of regional business had been done as a result of the event – including £620,000 in boat sales.
The 2014 event will be held over three days instead of five and will be staged on a single site on the Conwy side of the estuary instead of being split over two locations.
Davina Carey-Evans, Managing Director of show organisers Sbarc, was “very excited” by the prospects for this year’s event.
She said: “The backdrop for the show is stunningly beautiful and the location just off the A55 is perfect in terms of accessibility.
“Things are coming together extremely well and it promises to be a fantastic event which will provide a foundation for building on the potential of the marine sector in creating wealth and employment.”