We were aware of this being tested a few weeks and were intrigued. As watersports products go foiling, across all disciplines, is pretty much at the cutting edge. We’ve talked about foiling before. But it’s probably electric hydrofoiling that’s at the very front, mainly because of the prohibitive (for many) price of the gear. Yet anyone interested in foiling can’t fail to have their interests pricked, whether they can afford the equipment or not.
Our chap in the know, and bod testing this particular product’s always up for a chat, so we thought we’d find out more from Tez Plavenieks.
For those not aware tell us what an eFoil actually is?
It’s pretty much a standard foil board with accompanying hydrofoil that’ll lift off its foil wings, as with any other foiling craft. The difference here is you have an internal LiOn battery stowed under a hatch beneath the rider’s feet which powers a foil attached propulsion unit. The throttle is controlled by a waterproof handheld trigger.
And why would you feel the need for an electric hydrofoil?
Anyone who’s had experience of foiling will be aware how addictive it can be. Flying above the water, silently and effortlessly, with no friction is a feeling sort of akin to riding fluffy Champagne powder on a snowboard. When you get the skills carving, riding waves, covering distance efficiently and even jumping can be achieved. Once you get into foiling, whatever type you choose, it’s hard to go back to traditional ways of riding. With every type of foiling you need a power source though. This may be wind or wave or even just your own steam (if you can foil pump). When the wind disappears and the waves recede, however, those elements aren’t available. Enter electric hydrofoils. Using a handheld throttle control the foil mast mounted propeller gives the power you need to ride. This turns glassy calm days into something special. You can even use an eFoil for towing a non-electric hydrofoil rider into waves for instance. There are loads of possible scenarios.
How easy is eFoiling?
If you can foil, and have the experience with other disciplines, then you can transfer these skills easily. You’ll know how to sustain ride height and control the foil’s lift. What you then need to learn is how to use the throttle control – at least in this model’s case. The trigger’s very sensitive and it takes a little bit of figuring out but other throttles from different brands are less faffy. There’s a tendency to be over zealous at first which results in a few comedy wipeouts! That said it doesn’t take that long. And with momentum getting up to standing is easy on an eFoil. It’s pretty much like a slow surfing pop up.
What about the price of eFoils? They’re pretty expensive right?
EFoils are expensive (although this particular model from Fly McConks is slightly more palatable). But it’s relative. Once you own one and know how to ride there’ll be no hanging around waiting for conditions. If you have ‘conditions’ then you normal foiling will be the go. If those ‘conditions’ don’t materialise then you can bust out the eFoil. Basically you’re ALWAYS guaranteed a session with one in the mix. So it’s cost versus maximum fun times on the water, of which there’s a lot with an eFoil.
Is there much upkeep with eFoils?
This is the first one I’ve tested. But it’s as plug ‘n’ play as you find currently. Simply connect the foil to the board and its battery, make sure the battery and controller are charged up and off you go. This one from Fly McConks has a decent battery life, about an hour’s worth of riding time.
Anything else we should know about eFoils?
There’s definitely a BIG safety element and eFoiling‘s quite divisive. (Some see them as glorified jet skis). You really don’t want to be learning in the vicinity of others. Really, I can’t stress that enough. And you, the rider, need to be aware of how to fall and not spank yourself. If you’re inexperienced with foils then a helmet, impact vest and floatation device should be worn. The licensing around electric hydrofoils is also murky. It’s not obvious whether you need to inform people like Harbour Masters and so on where/when you plan on riding. It’s worth checking before you go afloat.
Initially, I thought eFoils were one step away from jet skis. I don’t have anything against those riders if they’re used in the right manner, but time and again we see jet ski pilots being idiots. Having spent some time eFoiling there’s as much skill needed with riding one as there is with any other foiling discipline, so it isn’t quite like the former. It’s also super fun. And as someone who just wants to get wet it definitely works for me. So much so that it’s up there as one of my favourite hydrofoil disciplines!
Thanks to Oli Lane-Pierce for the pics.
If you want to find out more about foiling then have a nose at the following articles –