Parasailing is a sport involving a parachute and a boat. A person is attached to a parachute and then tied to a motorboat, which drives off, getting, and keeping, the person off the ground. It is considered a hobby rather than a sport by many people, since the person on the parachute has no control over movement and speed and therefore becomes simply a passenger. Some countries perform parasailing without a boat, by attaching the person to a land vehicle. This is, however, considered more dangerous, and only recommended to those who have some experience beforehand.
Created in the 1970s, parasailing is a relatively new sport. It was started by a father who wanted to try something new as family entertainment. Brian Gaskin eventually designed his own parachute, the "Waterbird," and funded the first parasailing company. "Waterbird Parakites" is now the number one producer in the world of equipment for this sport.
Parasailing can be practiced by anybody, as it does not require any specific skill except the ability to swim. As the flight winds down, the person attached to the parachute ends up in the water, which is considered the safest way to stop a ride. People who are afraid of heights should also be wary, as some flights are done up to 2,000 feet (610 m) off the ground. As the person is attached to the parachute with a harness, the risk of injury is minor, allowing both children and older people to enjoy the sport. The youngest person on record to go parasailing was 9; the oldest, 87.
The sport is popular in the Caribbean and in tourist destinations with an emphasis on water recreation. Florida has a number of parasailing operations, and so do most Central America countries. Originally, flights were one person only, but more and more companies are now offering group flights through especially designated parachutes. The maximum number of people in a group flight is three, enough for a small family to enjoy the experience together.