FRANKLIN — Though it was gray and threatening thunderstorms all afternoon, those at Lake Carmi event Thursday couldn’t help but gaze skyward.
Looking up, people saw was a man on a small surfboard-like craft, twisting, turning, flipping, and diving from 30 feet in the air.
Phillip Snyder, a 39-year-old resident of West Berkshire and the owner of NorthEast Flyboard in Franklin as well as Snyder’s Academy of Taekwon-Do in St. Albans, was demonstrating the newest fad in extreme water sports as part of Celebrate Lake Carmi: Flyboarding.
The new sport was invented by French jet ski champion Franky Zapata in the spring of 2011, and through viral YouTube videos, marketing and media attention has spread all over the world.
Snyder is the owner of the first East Coast Flyboarding business, which is now a little less than two years old.
“Lake Carmi is our home lake,” he said on Thursday. Though NorthEast Flyboard is based in Vermont, Snyder travels throughout New England and beyond to give lessons and rent out equipment.
How it works
Attached to a jet ski with a 60-foot hose, a Flyboard uses water as propulsion, and the riders’ shifting weight to move around.
“It’s all about balance and stability,” Snyder said. He added that one’s ankles help control how low or high the Flyboard goes: leaning forward lowers the craft, and leaning back raises.
Though it looks difficult, Snyder said most people learn to Flyboard within minutes.
“In about 5 or 10 minutes, we can get most people out of the water,” he said. “Learning the basics – the learning curve is quite fast.”
Prior knowledge of other sports, such as surfing and snowboarding, won’t help. There’s nothing to compare to Flyboarding – it’s a whole new way to have fun in the water.
“It’s nothing like anything anyone’s ever tried,” Snyder said. “I’m like a kid all over again.”