August 3, 2019 / 5:28 PM / 18 days ago

French hoverboard inventor readies second Channel crossing bid

REFILE - CORRECTING NAME French inventor Franky Zapata holds a news conference as he prepares to cross the English Channel from Sangatte in France to Dover in Bleriot Plage, France, August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

SANGATTE, France (Reuters) - A French inventor will on Sunday make his second attempt to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard he designed, having abandoned a previous bid after failing to land on a refuelling platform and falling into the sea.

Franky Zapata, who wowed crowds during France’s Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 by soaring over a military parade in Paris on the device, said he had changed refuelling arrangements to give himself the best chance of a successful crossing.

“I just want to do it this time, we changed the boat, we took a bigger boat and built a bigger platform,” Zapata told a news conference on Saturday just outside the northern port of Calais.

Zapata will be carrying enough kerosene in his backback to fuel the hoverboard for about 10 minutes of flight, and as on his failed July 25 crossing will need to strap on a new supply for the second leg of his journey.

He is expected to take off from France at around 0600 GMT, making first for the refuelling vessel mid-way across the 35-km wide Strait of Dover.

A champion on jetski-powered waterboards, Zapata steers his Flyboard Air craft which flies at up to 140 km per hour by leaning forward or backward, and controls thrust with a throttle connected to his 1,500 horsepower board.

“I hope to see you in England, for another press conference,” Zapata told reporters. “I hope I will be drier than last time.”

Reporting by Pascale Antonie; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by David Holmes

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