I HEART HOVERCRAFTING

Deep thoughts on a snowboard

design ahead of its time

One of these things is not like the others.

That’s the feeling you got when you looked at the original 2010 Jones snowboard line, a four board quiver including the Flagship, Mountain Twin, Solution and Hovercraft.

 

The black sheep of the line was undoubtedly the Hovercraft. With it’s big nose, wide waist width and squatty blunt tail the Hovercraft didn’t look anything like the other three models, nor anything like a traditional twin snowboard. So what did it look like?

 

Back in 2010 there weren’t really words in the snowboard design vocabulary to describe what the Hovercraft looked like. To the simple eye, it was a powder board, which at that time was about the only thing a snowboard could be other than a freestyle board or a freeride board. But not to Jeremy Jones, what Jeremy saw in the Hovercraft was an all-mountain, all-conditions game changer. What he didn’t know was how right he was.

Ten seasons later, the Hovercraft’s legacy is the stuff of snowboard design legend. Within the first couple seasons of it’s debut, thousands of riders around the world caught on to the Hovercraft’s diverse and unique abilities. So much so that fans would send us love letters professing their undying devotion to the board design. Seriously though! We could never have planned it, but the Hovercraft amassed a legitimate cult following. That cult following spawned the hashtag #ihearthovercrafting, a tag used the world over by lovers of this now legendary snowboard design.

 

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hovercraft, let’s take it back to the beginning and hear from our three original Hovercraft disciples about why this board shape was an instantaneous success and arguably the most endearing shape we’ve ever made.

The inspiration for the hovercraft came from riding low angle Tahoe terrain and wishing I had more speed. I could see wind lips and features that I wanted to hit, but I couldn’t reach them. That got me thinking about how I could design a board that had more float and more glide so that I could ride low angle lines that I couldn’t get to on my traditional freeride board. My goal was to make a board that changed the way I looked at my home mountain.

Jeremy Jones riding deep Tahoe pow in January 2010 on the very first Hovercraft prototype.

Photos - Seth Lightcap

Jeremy Jones

"The first day I filmed on the Hovercraft was a very surreal day. I was home in Tahoe and it had snowed about a foot the night before. We started the day at Squaw and it was one of the only days I got early ups to shoot on a powder day. As we were standing around waiting to get the green light to go up KT, the ski patrol called down to the bottom and said, “C’mon up, McConkey’s is looking good!” And I was like, “Really? I wasn’t planning on riding McConkey’s."

But the patrol was so fired up on the idea I decided to give it a go. There was definitely less snow on the line than I would have liked, but I ended up riding it pretty clean. The fact that I dropped into a line like that with super variable snow and a mandatory air out the bottom on a 156 cm board speaks to the confidence that I instantly felt on the Hovercraft. It was days like this that earned the Hovercraft it’s first tagline, the “Don’t call me a pow board, pow board.” The Hovercraft is capable of anything."

– Jeremy Jones 

Jeremy Jones, Forrest Shearer and Ryland Bell talk to the Squaw Valley ski patrol waiting to get the go ahead to load KT-22 early to film. Jeremy ended up riding a super technical line called McConkey’s on his prototype Hovercraft.

Photos - Seth Lightcap

The same day Jeremy rode McConkey’s at Squaw he finished the day filming pillow lines on Donner Pass. This memorable Hovercraft session became a standout segment in DEEPER.

Forrest Shearer was one of the original Hovercraft test pilots. His surfy style and the blower Wasatch snow were a perfect match for this unique new board shape.

Photos - Andrew Miller

"My first days riding the Hovercraft were a profound experience. I was used to riding a traditionally shaped board with a full size tail so even just looking down at this board with the tail chopped off forced me to throw everything I knew out the window. I had to re-think how I looked at a board shape and my expectations for how it would ride. The Hovercraft opened my eyes to alternative shapes and the potential of setting new board performance standards by thinking outside the box."

Forrest Shearer

Nick Russell is another veteran Hovercraft disciple. His early days riding in Utah cemented his love for the shape. 

Photos - Andrew Miller

My first day riding the Hovercraft was in the Brighton side country. I was blown away. It was unlike anything I had ever ridden before. What I noticed was that I could ride it in deep pow and have this surfy, cruisy feeling and I could take it into the tracked out, choppy snow and feel just as stable and comfortable. The long sidecut lets you draw these big lines through big terrain, but the compact shape let’s you make these quick fluid motions in tight terrain. The Hovercraft ended up completely changing my riding style and adding a whole new element to my snowboarding. I haven’t looked back since.

Nick Russell

It only took one run on the solid Hovercraft proto for Jeremy to call Jones Brand Manager Xavier Nidecker and request a split version. The Hovercraft Split debuted the next season in the 2011-12 line. 

Photos - Seth Lightcap

It’s no surprise that the Hovercraft Split has become the board of choice for so many serious backcountry riders. It handles a multitude of conditions, it glides really fast and it has a very unique feel to it. It gives you a feeling that you don’t get on a traditional splitboard. It’s super stable and predictable, but it’s also surprisingly nimble.”

Jeremy Jones

From the deep skin tracks in Utah to perfect corn snow under the might night sun in Iceland, The Hover Split is Forrest Shearer's go to Split board for any condition.

Photos - Andrew Miller

It didn’t take long to realize the Hovercraft Split was my one board backcountry quiver. I couldn’t believe how well it floated in pow and hooked up on hard pack. It rode like a Swiss army knife, you could wrap that board around any type of riding. The short tail also made it really easy to climb steep switchbacks. The Hovercraft Split became my board of choice because it was just so enjoyable going up or down.

Forrest Shearer

With his snowboarding aspirations focused on bigger lines that required more technical climbing to ascend, Jeremy dreamed up the Ultracraft Split. The Ultracraft split was a ultralight version of the Hovercraft that cut weight for the way up while offering rock solid riding performance on the way down. One of the first big lines Jeremy rode on the Ultracraft was the Otterbody route on the Grand Teton.

"The Ultracraft split got us thinking about board weight and how to make a board that was lightweight, yet could still charge through rough snow. Lightweight boards are nice, but if they can’t handle chatter the weight savings isn’t worth it. The Ultracraft was the first split I tested that was “right light”. You could feel how light it was, but it also rode incredibly well in all conditions. This led me to take the Ultracraft Split up the Grand Teton and Denali, two of my most ambitious splitboard trips at the time. On both of these trips I was worried if I really had the fitness to pull it off. The Ultracraft was crucial in saving energy and my success."

– Jeremy Jones 

On any given backcountry tour, more often than not you encounter a handful of different snow conditions, from deep winter pow to some bulletproof wind chalk to whatever. The fact that the Hovercraft is not just a powder board is why I never need to switch up my split. The weight savings of the compact shape are also really noticeable on the way up, especially with the Ultracraft Split. It makes it so much easier to go and have big days.

Nick Russell

In May of 2017 Nick Russell led an expedition to the Cordillera Apolobamba range in Bolivia. His board of choice was the Ultracraft Split.

Photos - Justin Kious

So what's the secret that makes the Hovercraft's shape so freakin" sweet? The long side cut. Jeremy Jones puts the 9.1 meter radius to good use in Barliohce, Argentina.

Photo - Andrew Miller

The secret to the Hovercraft is the compact shape matched with a long sidecut. It’s a short board so you can maneuver it really fast, but when you put it on rail it wants to make big turns because of the long sidecut. It’s really the best of both worlds. It handles speed incredibly well but you can down shift into first or second gear and make really quick, tight turns. I wasn’t surprised the Hovercraft became the board of choice for so many riders. The feeling I get when I’m hovercrafting is like nothing other.

Jeremy Jones

#iHeartHovercrafting

  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White YouTube Icon

STAY UP TO DATE ON THE LATEST NEWS

FOLLOW US ON:

  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White YouTube Icon
  • White Twitter Icon