At first sight, a rider on a flyboard, flying high on water jets strapped to wrist and ankles, looks like he is taking an incredible risk.
And, as the jetski powered apparatus allows the rider to fly nine metres in the air, do backflips and even dive in and out of the water like a dolphin, well, it would be hard to argue that it isn’t dangerous. Consider the damage a powered dive into a submerged log would do to a rider’s head.
“It appears to be on the risky side,” said Penticton Land Technician Peter Wallace. So, the question arises, why allow this oh-so-new sport to operate out of the City of Penticton?
Though there was a rumoured accident, what eventually forced Flyboard Rentals out of Penticton was not enough interest to cover the costs of the equipment, valued at about $20,000 including the jetski, and its operating costs.
All of that aside, the city’s decision to grant the beach vendor permit was a good one, even with concerns from established vendors about introducing new competition. Wallace said all these aspects were considered, and resulted in criteria that Flyboard Rentals had to meet prior to beginning operation, including an insurance policy.
Though the nature of the tourist crowd on the beach changes over time, Penticton is a beach city. City council has recognized this recently by making waterfront revitalization one of its priorities. As well as ensuring the waterfront and the beaches are well-kept, it is just as important for the city to foster new attractions, and the new sport of flyboarding promises to be one of those.
Though the operators may not have been able to sell enough rides to be profitable, the crowds that gathered on the beach and on board the S.S. Sicamous to watch anytime the device was in operation are testament to the possibility of flyboarding being a major draw for Penticton.