- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) - On the shores of Onota Lake, a group of 11 lined up to become a few more among a tiny fraction of the population to try out an adrenaline-fueled young water sport.

The conversation - concerning the day’s endeavor: Flyboarding and Hoverboarding - kept circling back to one inevitable aspect, falling.

“You should see some good falls,” Peter Lipton, who organized the outing by contracting a business out of Westford to bring the equipment to the lake, said.

Invented by French watercraft specialist Franky Zapata in 2012, a Flyboard consists of boots on a deck with a pair of nozzles underneath.

A 52-foot tube connects the device to a Jet Ski whose rider activates the Flyboard by opening up the machine’s throttle.

Then, it’s lift off. Pressured water shoots from the nozzles and propels the Flyboarder as high as 40 feet above the water.

“You don’t do to well in that first 10 minutes. After that you start getting brave and trying to pull off flips.”

Chet Herget, owner of Flyboard Surf Club, arrived at the lake at roughly 11 a.m. on Saturday prepared for a full day on the water.

The sport is growing in popularity, Herget said, and his company has worked up and down the East Coast, Lake Winnipesaukee and Pittsfield.

“We’re trying to get it out there, because more and more people are lining up to give it a shot,” Herget said. “For me, it’s an excuse to get in the water every day.”

The sport is still somewhat cost prohibitive: Flyboard’s cost more than $5,000 and required modifications to a Jet Ski are also costly.

Herget first visited the Berkshires last September when Lipton contracted him for the first time.

On Saturday, a bigger group sought to get in on the action - with seven riders from the Boston and Worcester areas, one from San Francisco, one from Denver and other locals, most of whom were Lipton’s friends - and a new toy to try: the Hoverboard.

The Hoverboard differs in that it’s shaped like a shorter snowboard and the water propels out the back end.

Eitan Evan, who owns a home on the lake, rode up on a Jet Ski to join dozens of people who had congregated to watch Lipton, Herget and crew in action.

A water sports enthusiast, Evan compared the events to 35 years earlier, when he was the first to bring parasailing to Lake Onota.

“Nobody knew what it was,” Evan said.

The Flyboarding came off well on Saturday, but Lipton and his friends had some difficulty keeping the Hoverboard straight for a sustained ride over the surface of the water.

A reverberating slap echoed across the water as Lipton’s friend Christopher, of Colorado, dumped the Hoverboard in mid-air.

“It’s going to be hard to top that fall, but I’m going to try,” Lipton said.

Maybe you’ll have the hang of it next year, fellas.


Information from: The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, https://www.berkshireeagle.com

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