French jet ski icon Franky Zapata has set a new Guinness World Record for the furthest hoverboard flight, travelling a distance of 7,388ft on 30 April off the coast of Sausset-les-Pins in the south of France.
Zapata, 37, who is well known for his Flyboard Pro jet platform and previously held the world record for the most backflips with a water jet pack in one minute, first debuted his jet-powered flying hoverboard invention Flyboard Air to the world in early April.
In a video showing his first successful test flight, Zapata Racing touted the device as being able to reach heights of up to 10,000ft and hit a top speed of 95mph.
The Flyboard Air is powered by jet engine propulsion and features a joystick wired to the base in order to control the direction, height and speed of the hoverboard.
Not much information has been released about the device, but new footage released by Zapata Racing regarding the world record attempt shows that the hoverboard includes a pair of shoes secured to the base that the rider slips their feet into to secure them to the device when flying.
The previous world record was set by Canadian Catalin Alexandru Duru, 31 – the inventor of the Omni Hoverboard – in May 2015, when his invention was able to fly a distance of 905ft at a height of 16ft in the air in just 90 seconds.
In contrast, during his record-making attempt, Zapata flew 100ft above choppy coastal waters, skirting the coastline for six or seven minutes before eventually reaching a top speed of about 44mph.
Never stop dreaming
Zapata and Duru are part of an international race to make the consumer hoverboards featured in the much-loved 80s flick Back to the Future II a reality. Duru's invention features eight propellers and a frame made from carbon fibre, with motors powered by 12 lithium polymer batteries, and it too is controlled by a joystick. However, it can only fly for 90 seconds.
Besides Duru and Zapata's inventions, in the hoverboard category there is also the crowdfunded Hendo Hoverboard and the Lexus Hoverboard, but they work in a different way and neither of those designs go very far off the ground.
The Hendo works by magnetics and can only be used in a special purpose-built conductive rink, while the Lexus uses superconductors and magnets that work against gravity to lift the board, as liquid nitrogen cools the superconductors, giving off steam on both sides of the board.
Flyboard Air could make it to market first
Since Duru's hoverboard is still at the prototype stage, Zapata's Flyboard Air, which looks like a polished product, could make it to market first and beat out the hoverboards currently competing today.
For now, it looks like Zapata is in the lead, but although he says his hoverboard can go up to 10,000ft, in neither the first test flight video nor the new Guinness World Record attempt have we seen this proven.
Zapata Racing says its prototype is still pending legislative approval from the government, so we will not be seeing it on the market for a while. However, the world record attempt will surely have put hoverboards back into the public's minds. Duru, your move.