Frenchman fails in attempt to cross English Channel on jet-powered hoverboard

French inventor Franky Zapata takes off on a Flyboard to cross the English channel from Sangatte to Dover, in Sangatte, France, on July 25, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

SANGATTE, FRANCE (REUTERS) - A French inventor failed in his attempt on Thursday (July 25) to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard when he missed a refuelling platform mounted on a boat, a member of his technical team said.

Mr Franky Zapata was making his attempt on the 110th anniversary of the first powered flight between Britain and France.

"It is a huge disappointment. He made his rendezvous with the refuelling boat but he must have missed the platform by just a few centimetres," a member of his team said on BFM television.

Mr Zapata was unharmed, he added.

"We practised this manoeuvre dozens of times in heavier seas, with platforms that moved more, without any problems," the technician said.

"It wasn't the wind, it was the waves. The platform was two metres above the deck, every movement of the boat is exaggerated."

Standing on the hoverboard powered by five small jet engines, Mr Zapata took off from Sangatte, France, at 0706 GMT and had hoped to reach to Dover in about 20 minutes, flying at up to 140 kilometres per hour at an altitude of between 15 to 20 metres.

He disappeared from spectators' view within moments, trailed by a helicopter.

Minutes later, his team announced he had failed to land on the ship to take on more fuel.

Mr Zapata wowed crowds during France's July 14 Bastille Day celebrations, flying over a military parade on Paris' Place de la Concorde in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Zapata, a champion on jetski-powered waterboards, steers his craft by leaning forward or backward and controls thrust with a throttle connected to his 1,500-horsepower board.

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