France’s hoverboard hero
Franky Zapata attempts to cross the Channel

25 July 2019

If you were in Paris for Bastille Day last week you might have seen Franky Zapata soaring above the crowds on the Champs-Élysées. It impressed President Emmanuel Macron so much he tweeted about it afterwards.


Formerly a jet ski champion, Zapata designed his own jet-powered hoverboard which can reach speeds of nearly 190 kilometres per hour. The avant-garde pioneer has been given a grant of over £1 million by the French government to develop the technology behind his daring designs.

This morning he set off for St Margaret’s Bay in Dover from Sangatte, with the plan to stop and refuel midway across the Channel on a little platform mounted on a boat. Landing requires optimal wind and wave conditions and, unfortunately, as he attempted to do so, the landing platform tipped a couple of centimetres and Zapata lost his balance.


Zapata's aim was to cross the 22-mile stretch of water, in an ambitious 20 minutes, to mark the 110th anniversary of French aviator Louis Blériot’s Channel crossing. In 1909, Blériot became world-famous for making the first airplane flight across the English Channel, winning the prize of £1,000 offered by the Daily Mail newspaper, which he completed in 36 minutes and 30 seconds.

Louis Blériot also developed the first practical headlamp for cars and established a profitable business manufacturing them. It was this that financed his attempts to build a successful aircraft.


Since the beginning, DS has always taken pride in integrating the most advanced technology and avant-garde philosophy into our designs. In fact the Head-Up display on our newest model DS 3 CROSSBACK is inspired by fighter jets, with all essential information projected onto a transparent dashboard. Similarly the R180 dashboard clock was conceived exclusively for DS 7 CROSSBACK by Bernard Richards Manufacture (B.R.M), the luxury family-run watchmakers, who's designs pay tribute to the technical prowess of WWII aircraft.


Like all great inventors before him, Zapata’s near miss will undoubtably fuel his determination to persevere in challenging established engineering codes and taking technology beyond its limits.


(Credit to Sky News and ITV for the photography.)