Customers up in the air over flyboarding
GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Queenstown stuntman Beau Weston has turned young entrepreneur to bring the South Island its first commercial Flyboarding operation.
From the age of 19 Mr Weston has worked within the stunt teams of some of New Zealand's biggest film productions.
Now, at 22 he is the director of Flyboard Queenstown, which started commercial operations in Queenstown Bay yesterday.
The Flyboard was invented only in late 2011, but has taken off all over the world. It consists of a pair of high-powered jet boots, which through water propulsion allow the wearer to balance and move meters above a water surface.
Connected to the boots is a tube hooked up to a jet-ski, which provides the thrust.
About 80 per cent of the power is distributed directly under the wearer, while hand-held stabilising jets are connected on each side, enabling control.
The spark for Mr Weston investing in the Flyboard and starting the business came from YouTube.
"I saw some clips and just thought how amazing, and that it would appeal to people in Queenstown," he said.
"It appealed to me because I'm sporty and always after a new thrill, and thousands of people just like that pass through Queenstown every day."
Getting his skipper's certification, writing a 40-page safety operational plan, completing piles of paperwork for Maritime New Zealand and going through the resource consent process were not on Mr Weston's horizon in the inspiration phase of what would become Flyboard Queenstown, but provided a steep learning curve.
"There was a lot of work to get started, but [Queenstown Harbourmaster] Marty Black was a huge help through it all, and in the end it was all worth it to have an opening day that had great sunshine, and seeing the faces of loads of happy customers who were really buzzed afterwards.
Flyboard customer Gerd Schwaderer from Stuttgart, Germany, said the experience was akin to being the star in his own TV show.
"It's unreal, and it feels like the kind of thing you would usually just see on TV or in movies - you can't really compare it to something that already exists. It's exceptional and anyone should do it if they have the chance. Balance-wise its like trying to steer a crazy snowboard, but overall, the experience is much more than that feeling."
While more stunt work could be on the horizon for Weston, he was hopeful a long, hot summer would finally kick in for the Southern region, bringing lots of people to Lake Wakatipu's shores.
"We've gone really light on marketing because you've just got to get someone in the air and people come to look, but nice hot weather for the rest of the summer would definitely help."
- The Southland Times