Hydroflight, as any flight based sport has risks. We are determined to do everything we can to make it safer. Flying over the water you need complete trust in your equipment and your connection to it. However in an emergency, the quicker you can get out away from it the better. This is a common thread through sports, from car racing to skiing to paragliding. The XTR Total Release is the next step in addressing the safety needs of the jetboard community.
We had one main requirement as the brief, give the ability for a first time user to exit the board as quickly as possible with as few chances for hang ups as possible. Such emergencies can be simple or complicated.
- A first time user might just want to be free of the board.
- The hose can get caught on an obstruction under water and start to tug the user under water when pressurized by the jet ski.
- An unpowered jet ski and rider in flowing water can get caught on a bouy and the rider and the ski can be dragged under due to the current forces.
- A boat passing between the ski and the rider can catch the hose and drag the rider.
- The jet ski could sink (unlikely given floatation foam inside).
- Lots of things we haven’t thought of, in short, there are times you want to give the rider the possibility of a quick out.
This has been a concept that we have been developing since the start of the Jetblade development. A mechanism that will allow the complete release of the rider from the board in an emergency. We had developed a quick release “snap shackle”for the X-Jetpack that open everything up with one pull. We built a quick release Speed Clamp for each Jetblade starting with our first shipments, it was a priority to have a way to release at a minimum for instructors/rescuers and ideally for the individual users. The Speed Clamp is good, but it could be better. We wanted the same full access quick release that we had on the X-Jetpack for the Jetblade. Here’s how it is in “our DNA”, we had been part of the development of snowboard step-in bindings together with Marker bindings and Tecnica boots and even worked on a huge Nike project for a step-in binding. We learned the requirements inside and out.
- Secure retention. 99.99% of the time, the binding will be required to remain stable and locked. The task here is to keep the fasteners engaged in all conditions of day to day, rental and professional use.
- Fast easy release. When you need it, a minimum of motions to release the system and get clear. This system is designed to be used in a critical situation, where the user is under stress and needs to operate more on instinct that repeating a unfamiliar maneuver.
- Build it for everyone. Superman claims he can get out of his boots in six seconds :), but not everyone is superman. Some riders are older with less flexibility, some have a belly and even some have just one arm. We designed our system to work with the biggest cross section of users we could imagine. Hydroflight sport should be open to all.
- Easy to demonstrate and teach. This release system is designed to be used by a first time rider in a panic situation. Nothing is simpler than reaching down and pulling up on a handle.
- Build it for binding swapouts in rental operations. Changing from one size of boots to the next quickly is one of the leading requests from rental centers, the ability to pull a pin and unclick a set of boots is a big advantage in fast moving operations.
- Simplify the system, as few moving parts as possible, the fewer parts, the less chance for something to get jammed in a tight situation.
- Design the release handle in a location where it can be easily accessed, but not disturbed or damaged by transportation, objects in the water, sitting on a dock, getting hung up on ropes or other objects in the water.
- Build it out of environmentally resistant materials. Anodized aluminum, 316 non-rusting stainless steel, engineering plastics to position layers. This is what we do in all of our products, the XTR is no exception.
- Build it strong. Goes without saying that some very big people are going to ride this and need the same quick release as smaller riders.
- Build it able it handle grime, wear, and sitting all summer in a garage with no maintenance. This is the real world where some users may ignore the care and maintenance guidelines.
- Finally, our professional testers asked for a second stage lockout. A twin degree of lock that would be a “safety” when engaged it forms a second level of lockdown for professional users that put higher levels of stress on their hydroflight equipment. Importantly, this class of rider is prepared, by experience, confidence and training to spend an extra second or two in an emergency to release their bindings.