By Terry Card
His body shook with nervous anticipation. Suddenly he accelerated upwards at a heart-stopping pace as a thousand gallons of water per minute rushed from the flyboard strapped to his feet. Trying to maintain his balance while hovering thirty feet over Offatts Bayou, he looked far – far down to the water below, churning noisily in the wake of the 60 psi jet of water thrusting against the surface with almost 400 pounds of lifting force.
Just as he was savoring the moment, he lost his balance and went tumbling into the water far below. When he broke the surface a broad smile was still plastered on his face.
“Oh Man! Let’s do that again! What a rush!”
This is typically the reaction of those who try flyboarding for the first time. Any reasonably able bodied person 12 years or older can do it and just like any other sport, the more you do it, the more proficient you become. There is a mandatory $39 beginner dry land course which teaches safety and technique. Within twenty minutes anyone will be able to rise three to five feet out of the water. Of course the young and athletic will be thirty feet in the air within five to ten minutes.
Flyboarding was created by French jet ski racer Franky Zapata in 2011 and took the world by storm. It did not take long for such an exciting sport to be imported to the U.S., coming here in 2012. Seizing the opportunity, Extreme WaterSports brought the first flyboards into Galveston by Labor Day of that same year.
Extreme WaterSports is a Galveston company that is owned and operated by Rodney Nelson, a boy from the farmlands of Kansas. Nelson is an extraordinarily busy former marine, a veteran of Somalia, who owns and operates this company in addition to Lifestyle Investment Solutions, a wealth management firm. He first learned about flyboarding while watching a YouTube video that had gone viral with over 1.5 million hits. Wanting to try it himself, he discovered he could do it in practically every other country except the U.S. After obtaining his instructor’s certification at the regional dealership site in Austin, and a series of negotiations, he ultimately purchased a dealership for Galveston and immediately bought two boards which retail at $5,850 each, plus eight full-body and 12 half-body wetsuits.
Not only is Rodney very busy running his two companies, he is also the immediate past President of the Galveston Lions Club, donating the little time he has left in a week for charitable causes, while still keeping his businesses on an even keel.
Galveston drivers on 61st Street were astounded, in neck twisting amazement, to see someone magically standing on a rushing column of water while hovering thirty feet in the air – and word soon spread. It is not magic however, and it is not a water jet pack attached to your back. Instead, you are secured to the flyboard with wakeboard style bindings and the 400 pound lift force comes from below your feet. As the pilot of the flyboard, you are in complete control of the navigation. The operator on the personal watercraft controls the throttle. Located on the dock below the Offatts Bayou Waterfront Event Center on the west side of 61st Street, north of Heard’s Lane, Extreme WaterSports is open Friday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm. Other hours are available by appointment. To date, his company operates from Memorial Day until October, but depending upon demand that time may be expanded.
Since he took over the former boat rental office this year, his business has been growing at a rate of 10 to 15 percent per year. This Memorial Day weekend, there were twenty-five riders and on Father’s Day alone, twelve fathers flew over the water for their Father’s Day gift.
Not being satisfied with just running the business, Rodney is organizing a competitive team in Galveston to go to next year’s Regional Trick Flyboarding Championship in Austin. The regional champions are competing in the North American Championships being held in Toronto, Canada from June 20-22. The North American champions then compete in the Flyboarding World Cup.
The cost to soar through the air is $99 for 20 minutes, $139 for 30 minutes, $199 for 45 minutes and $249 for 60 minutes. Group rates are available and repeat customers, who fly for 4 hours, get a free 20 minute flight. To Contact Extreme WaterSports call (409)539-3455 or email Rodney at Rodney.email@example.com.
After seeing the “Iron Man” trilogy, one customer wanted to fly so badly he went to one of our local stores, bought Captain America and Iron Man costumes, persuaded the jet ski driver to be Captain America – donned the Iron Man suit and flew an exhilarating thirty feet in the air!
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