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Jet Ski champion sets world record hoverboard flight

By UPI Staff
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Jet Ski champion sets world record hoverboard flight
French jet ski champion Franky Zapata broke a Guinness World Record Saturday, flying 7,388 feet on his Flyboard Air hovercraft. Photo from Guinness Book of World Records

SAUSSET-LES-PINS, France, May 1 (UPI) -- A French jet ski champion found victory in another venue Saturday, setting a new Guinness World Record for the farthest hoverboard flight during a thrilling attempt off the coast of Sausset-les-Pins in the south of France.

Franky Zapata managed a new benchmark distance of 2,252 meters, or almost 1-1/2 miles, by far surpassing the previous record of 275.9 meters or 905 feet 2 inches, Guinness reported.

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The previous record was set last year by Canadian inventor Catalin Alexandru Duru.

Zapata rose 50 meters above the surface for the record attempt, trailed by a raft of boats and personal water crafts. The 37-year-old piloted the aircraft, called Flyboard Air, developed by his own company, Zapata Racing.

The Flyboard Air can reportedly reach a maximum height of 10,000 feet and a speed of 150 kilometers per hour, or 93 miles per hour.

Guinness adjudicator Sofia Grenach confirmed that the hoverboard complied with the rules of the record and did reach an historic distance.

A delighted Zapata told reporters at a press conference following the successful record attempted, "This has really been a life's work."

As Zapata prepared for the championship run, a short video of a test flight on his Flyboard Air went viral, amassing over 3 million YouTube views, with many commenters doubting his hoverboard was real.

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Zapata Racing previously developed a wide range of water-propelled devices including the original Flyboard, which connects to a personal watercraft turbine with a long hose.

One of the Flyboard Air''s unique features is that it uses an "Independent Propulsion Unit" so it can fly hose-free and can stay airborne for up to ten minutes.

Zapata previously held the record for most back-flips with a water jet pack in one minute during an appearance on the CBBC TV show 'Officially Amazing' at L'Estaque in Marseille, France back in 2014.

Liu He, of China, broke Zapata's record of 26 back flips by managing 27 of his own.

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