If you’re looking for a little adrenaline rush on the calm waters of the Hamptons, flyboarding is one of the most exhilarating activities out there.
For those that don’t know, a flyboard is something like a jetpack/hoverboard that attaches to your feet and uses water to propel you up into the air. The board is connected to a jet ski by a 60-foot hose. When the jet ski sucks up water, the water gets pushed through the hose and comes out of the nozzles of the flyboard, elevating the flyer out of the water. The jet ski throttle controls how much power goes through the hose.
It may seem complicated or a little scary, but the guys at Hampton Flyboard are experienced, competent, and friendly. Dane and Beau Riva, the brothers who run Hampton Flyboard, are Pierson High School graduates with knowledge of the area and watersports.
“My brother’s been a surf instructor for seven years. I worked at Main Beach and was a lifeguard,” says Beau, the younger Riva. “We’ve always been in the water trying to do new things and get involved in new watersports.”
“Two winters ago I was in Florida on vacation,” Beau says. “[Flyboarding’s] huge down there. So we saw this and thought it’d be cool to bring out [to the East End]. Dane really pushed me about making it happen and then last summer we started.”
Though flyboarding has become increasingly popular in warmer climates and through viral YouTube videos, Hampton Flyboard is currently the only flyboard business on the East End.
While they mainly operate in Northwest Harbor, the jet ski is on a trailer, so they can help you flyboard anywhere. “We’ve gone out to Montauk or Long Beach, and brought our stuff to people’s houses on the water,” Beau says. “We’ve done groups and have given everyone a chance to hop on and try it out.”
When it was time for my own flyboarding adventure to begin, I was leaning over a wood piling by a dock at the end of Northwest Landing Road in East Hampton, looking out towards an empty, glistening Northwest Harbor.
Then, I saw a pontoon boat approaching from the distance. It was Beau, who picked me up and told me that Dane was waiting with the jet ski. The ensuing ride took us along Barcelona Neck, past the Sag Harbor Golf Course and a beautiful bay beach. We arrived at a wide open spot in the middle of Northwest Harbor where Dane sat ready on the jet ski. That’s when the fun began.
After I put on a lifejacket and helmet, I was given safety instructions and the run down of how it was going to work. Beau said having experience with a sport that requires good balance (something I didn’t have) is beneficial, but that all beginners get the hang of it pretty fast.
I jumped into to the pleasantly warm water and swam over to the jet ski. Once Dane tied my feet to the board, I was told to lie on my stomach. When the hose had fully expanded, Dane would give me the thumbs up and that’s when I could try to stand up and fly.
As the hose filled with water, it sent me soaring on my stomach along the water. When I looked back and saw Dane give the signal, I was ready. But before I was fully standing, I fell right back into the water.
At that point, I thought I might be out there for a while. I failed the next two attempts, also. On the next try, I caught myself before I fell and then, all of a sudden, I was standing up, hovering above the water. I only lasted for about 10 seconds, but it felt a lot longer. I dropped down into the water from a few feet high, which was a rush in itself.
As I kept going, I got used to the board, and I went higher and higher with each successive flight. By the end of the session I found myself more than 10 feet up in the air with a panoramic view that included the boats in Sag Harbor Bay, as well as glimpses of North Haven, beaches on Barcelona Neck, and Cedar Point. I was able to make basic turns and loops around the pontoon boat to pose for pictures. The whole time both Beau and Dane were encouraging and continued to offer advice.
By the time the 30-minute session was up, I was exhausted from both flying and falling, but in a good way. I would encourage anyone who loves the water and wants to try something new to flyboard. It’s fun, safe, and an incredibly unique experience.
If you want to fly, call 631-604-8867 or check out hamptonflyboard.com for more information.