(Aug. 16, 2013) Just in time to catch the end of the summer season, Odyssea Watersports near 51st Street on the bay has a new thrill ride to offer.
The Jetovator — a water-powered jet bike that can carry riders 30 feet in the air over the water — opened for business Aug. 3. It has been carrying about four customers over the bay off the 40th Street convention center every day since.
“They have a blast,” said trained Jetovator pilot and co-owner Sean Crosariol. “It’s just an unreal feeling when you’re up in the air.”
The Jetovator learning curve is less than five minutes, “so people can have a good time,” Crosariol said. Pilots quickly learn the ins and outs of manning the bike, from leaning forward for balance to using subtle hand movements to steer.
Their ride starts at one of three locations, Odyssea Watersports, Action Watersports on 52nd Street bayside or OC Baysports on the bay near 23rd Street. Jetovator staff carry customers by Jet Ski to a spot about 300 yards offshore from the convention center, where the water is around chest-deep, and after brief instructions on how to fly the machine, the pilots are ready for takeoff.
Either Crosariol or Tim Wood, both trained Jetovator pilots, control the waterpower driving the bike, meaning new drivers won’t go too high. The water feeds through the Jet Ski into a 50-foot hose attached to the Jetovator.
Staff won’t take riders up to 30 feet on their first Jetovator ride, but slowly increase the water pressure as they see the driver improve and gain confidence.
“The goal here is to go as high as you can, (but) it’s a gradual thing,” said Jetovator co-owner Ron Croker, who owns Odyssea Watersports, OC Baysports and Action Watersports with Melissa and Justin Clemens.
“If we feel comfortable enough to put you up 20 feet, we do it,” Croker said.
Croker and Crosariol were considering expanding their Jet Ski, jet boat, scooter and parasailing business last year.
“We were going to introduce the Jetlev (a similar, water-powered jetpack) last year,” Croker said, but “it wasn’t really what we wanted.”
After more research, the duo found the Jetovator. After a host of test runs by Odyssea Watersports staff, they felt the bike was ready to rent.
“We wanted to make sure, ultimately, that we were dealing with something very safe,” Croker said. That’s why they chose the Jetovator.
“You’re not strapped into it. If you get scared, you can jump off,” Crosariol explained. And a trained pilot powers the bike, keeping the ride under control.
Croker and Crosariol already have plans to expand and hope to have three or four Jetovators by next summer. They also have plans in the works to install a giant trampoline in the bay as a staging area for customers waiting for a turn on the Jetovator, Crosariol said.
They want to develop “frequent flyer” rewards for those who take multiple trips on the jet bike.
A ride on the Jetovator costs $150 for a half hour and $75 for 15 minutes. Pilots must be 18, or 16 with a parent’s signature.
Same-day trips are available seven days a week, though calling a day ahead is preferred so trips can be coordinated with the tides.
Call 410-524-4769 to book a ride on the Jetovator.
To learn more about the Jetovator, visit www.jetovator.com.