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A 33-year-old Torbay man has returned home from his first flyboarding competition with a runner-up trophy.
James Prestwood took second place in the competition in Porto Cesareo, in south east Italy, and said it had given him a confidence boost as he sets his sights on qualification for the world championship in France next June.
Flyboarding involves performing tricks like backflips and ‘dolphin dives’ with a water jet pack strapped to your feet.
A Flyboard rider stands on a board connected by a long hose to a watercraft. Water is forced under pressure to a pair of boots with jet nozzles underneath which provide thrust for the rider to fly up to 15 m (49 ft) in the air or to dive headlong through the water down to 2.5 m (8 ft).
James, a floodlighting specialist from Churston near Brixham, only took up the activity a couple of years ago, after seeing it while on holiday in Ibiza and thinking it looked like fun.
He taught himself how to do it using videos on the internet and had some training in Malta.
“I love it because it’s like being able to fly without wings,” said James. “You can go up to 50ft in the air. I try to get out most weekends, all year round – the cold doesn’t stop me.
“The competition in Italy wasn’t massive but it was a confidence boost. It was just the start for me. It was all about experience, learning competition rules and making new friends.
“After a warm-up, I had two minutes to do five given tricks which I was scored upon. The next day was freestyle and I had to do as many tricks as I could.
“There’s a world championship coming up in France next June and I need to train really hard to qualify for that.”