The City Magazine Since 1975

Catching Air

Catching Air
July 2014
The fledgling sport of flyboarding headlines Hydrofly Watersports’ adventurous offerings

You may have seen them on local waters: people “surfing the sky” on a wakeboard-like flyboard that hovers up to 50 feet in the air. It’s attached to a jet ski via a long hose that delivers water to the board, directing it out of two nozzles below the user’s feet. The force of the water propels the board up and holds it aloft.

Hydrofly Watersports brought the adventurous activity to town in 2012—not long after it was invented—becoming the first company to offer it to the public in South Carolina. “The owners, Sam Pannier and James Stegall, are professional flyboarders who wanted to show others a fun time on the water,” says manager Lauren Thompson. “It looks intimidating, but most of our guests are up on it in minutes—kids, older folks, everyone.” Of course, visitors start out only a few feet out of the water, and an instructor is controlling the power at all times to ensure safety.

To teach customers, the Ripley Light Yacht Club-based Hydrofly takes them on outings ($95 per person) that start with a 15-minute boat trip to their tiki hut, moored in the Ashley River. Outfitted with chairs, paddleboards, and a group-size float, it’s a cool place to hang out while watching friends and family flyboard—or even to host a bash. “We have a lot of birthday parties and bachelor and bachelorette groups out here,” says Thompson.

Rather keep your feet on the ground—or at least the water? Hydrofly also rents paddleboards and kayaks (taking you by boat to scenic paddle spots) as well as jet skis. Fishing charters set out for inshore or offshore sites, while their 22-person Carolina Skiff takes two harbor tours a day and is available for private charter.  

For details, call (843) 284-6290 or visit