The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (2022)

Here are 12 amazing zero-emission electric hydrofoil personal watercraft that fly over the water, a technology that didn’t even exist 4 years ago!

No wonder it is catching on. Nearly every description of the experience, from the inventors and developers who first came up with these machines to first time e-foilers, is that it feels like flying on water. Some of the manufacturers even say, when referring to the battery life: “flying time of one hour”.

A quick history and explanation. A hydrofoil is literally a wing that attaches underneath a boat or any kind of vessel. It acts the same way as the wing of an airplane – as the boat (or in our case, board) moves through the water, it increases water pressure on the underside of the foil, decreases it on the upper side and when the board reaches a certain speed the foil lifts the board out of the water.

Wikipedia says “The first evidence of a hydrofoil on a vessel appears on a British patent granted in 1869 to Emmanuel Denis Farcot, a Parisian.” Over the years they have been used on military vessels and passenger ferries, and in 2009 Alain Thébault, inventor of the electric foiling water taxi SeaBubbles, and foiling FlyBus ferry, put hydrofoils on an 18m sailing trimaran – the Hydroptere – and proceeded to break the world’s speed records.

As for boards rather than boats, surfer celeb Laird Hamilton put a foil on a surfboard in Maui around 2009 and started flying over water either on the waves as in this video or by having it towed by jetskis or kites.

In 2016 the electric hydrofoil concept sprang to life

It seems that around 2016 the idea of an electric motor hydrofoil board was occurring to a few people. Electric motors and batteries had developed to the point that the propulsion system could be light enough and powerful enough to be attached to the wing itself, under the water, and provide enough speed to lift the board.

Some of the people with the concept were already in the watersport business, others were just surfers or wakeboarders or unpowered hydrofoilers who had dreams of being set free from the towing mothercraft. Some had already been working on it in their basements and garages. Literally all over the world.

(Video) Electric Hydrofoils

You’ll see below that these dreamers and visionaries were in Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Norway, Canada, Slovenia, China, Italy and the Czech Republic.

The first public breakthrough seems to have come in October of 2016 when Dan Montague, who had been head of R&D at the Naish International surf/wake/kiteboard company (see Jetfoiler below) put up a video on YouTube of him flying over the waters around Fiji.

At about the same time, in Puerto Rico, the hydrofoil factory of Nick Leason’s company LiftFoils – which had been making towable hydrofoil boards – had a catastrophic fire and he and his partners made the decision to concentrate on launching the world’s first commercial e-foil.

Below is a mini-documentary about the founding of the e-foil project, starring Nick himself.

Perhaps because the electrically powered hydrofoil isn’t dependent on water conditions – or temperature – developments and advances could be tested everywhere instead of in just the usual warm ocean places for surfing and boarding innovation, like Hawaii or California or Ibiza.

In the promotional video for Cabratec, you can even see the inventor, Miroslav Schuetz, step off an ice shelf on a fjord onto his ‘Easy Goat’ e-foil, zip around the open water and then follow the edge of the shelf before he slows down and steps onto the ice again!

Here are 12 companies making e-foils

Below is a collection of the 12 companies we could find that are making viable electric hydrofoils – plus an instructables project for those who want to build their own.

Plugboats makes no assertions about which of these are the best, but each item is linked to the company website for more information.

Most are in pre-order or reserve stage – except for Nick Leason’s Lift – which came on the market in May of 2018 and has already delivered over 600 boards to customers as of this writing. (April, 2019).

There will almost inevitably be some sorting out in the industry as to which boards can make the transition to being successful in the marketplace, but with so many people working on e-foils it also inevitable that the technology involved will become better and more affordable, probably very quickly.

For now, here is a look at the intrepid pioneers who are leading these exciting new advances.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (1)Lift The first production e-foil, which started shipping in May, 2018. Like all of the e-foils, it has an electric motor, battery (in this case lithium-ion) and a hand controller. Lift’s is connected via Bluetooth. Riders can fly for up to an hour at speeds of 25 mph or more.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (2)Jetfoiler Is the Don Montague creation being developed with his Kai Concepts team in San Frnacisco – who also invented the trimaran kiteboat. The Jetfoiler is still in prototyping, but it has already undergone a lot of real life testing and they “will make an announcement when we have boards available to sell.”

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (3)Flite was founded by Australian entrepreneur David Trewern who had learnt to surf, windsurf and sail by age 10, became one of Oz’s first Kitesurfers in 1998 and in 2005 broke the (GPS) Kitesurfing world speed record with a top speed of 48.5 knots. He’s assembled a group of 25+ experts who share the passion to create an amazing new way to ride water.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (4)VEFoil started when a couple of dreamers from Canada decided to act on their idea and launched a Kickstarter project to cover R&D costs, receiving 366 backers and setting them on their way. They’ve designed the board so that the motor can be removed to convert it to a kite foil or wake foil.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (5)Cabratec came about because Miroslav Schuetz was so inspired by Don Montague’s 2016 Fiji video that he set out to build his own e-foil. As he saw prices for others he concentrated on a more affordable option. Engineering, testing and prototyping took up 2017 and his EasyGoat became available for pre-order in 2018.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (6)HoverStar Flight Technology began in Shenzhen China in 2015 with their H1 Flying Car. From there they moved to the water and put together a hand held electric motor ‘AquaJet’ for snorkeling, the ‘HoverArk’, a sort of floaty with motors, and the HoverFoil is just the next natural progression, an electric motor on a bigger platform.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (7)Albatrossfrom Okarbon is a little bit different, an inflatable board that comes with a battery powered compressor. The whole thing can be stored in a backpack and the video on their website shows the components being put together in a couple of minutes.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (8)The Elevate Eco-Foil e-foil is another inflatable that is made for easy transport. In addition, its developers say that the actual hydrofoiling part with the motor can be easily attached to other wakeboards or SUP (Stand Up Paddling) boards to convert them instantly to e-foils.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (9)Flying Rodeo is another kit-type e-foil with different components that are assembled, but the board is rigid, not inflatable. There are also two types of rigid board offered, with the motor and other hydrofoil elements being interchangeable to give different flying experiences.

And if you have an extra 17 seconds to spare, this video of the Flying Rodeo alternative to Santa’s traditional sleigh and reindeer is well worth a look.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (10)EldoRIDEdo comes from the Czech Republic, the creation of a team at SportProp that has been making carbon and composite propellers and other parts, for aerospace, auto racing and even hang-gliding trikes, since 1993. When they imported a kite-hydrofoil in 2012 they started working on their impeller powered version

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (11)e-takuma is the last of our kit type e-foiling offerings, with the motor easily detaching from the foiling wing to make a towable foiling wake, kite or SUP board. One of their claims is ease of use, noting that out of 500 test users, the average time to ‘learn to fly’ was just over 3 minutes.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (12)

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (13)The Waydoo Flyer is from a subsidiary of TXA, a Chinese company that makes intelligent drones used in agriculture and applied that learning to electric hydrofoils. The e-foil division was founded in 2018, the big unveiling took place at the Singapore Yacht Show in April and orders are now being taken, with a one month delivery promise.

The incredible rise of the electric hydrofoils! - Plugboats (14)Build Your Own E-Foil! After seeing video of an e-foil and realizing they were really expensive, Hans, Jonas and Nikolai Hiorth of Norway – decided to build their own. Learn from them with their Instructables page that also has video of the great looking finished e-foil. Two-part instructions: board, hydrofoil, propulsion unit; battery and controller.

Photos are © the respective e-foil companies. Plugboats video uses footage from: Albatross, JetFoiler, Lift, Flite, Cabratec, Elevate, Waydoo, VEFoil

Keep up with the world of electric boats, ships and watercraft. Sign up to get the Plugboats weekly update sent to your mailbox.

FAQs

How hydrofoil lifts the boat to increase its speed? ›

As a hydrofoil-equipped watercraft increases in speed, the hydrofoil elements below the hull(s) develop enough lift to raise the hull out of the water, which greatly reduces hull drag. This provides a corresponding increase in speed and fuel efficiency.

How is a hydrofoil powered? ›

A human-powered hydrofoil is a small hydrofoil watercraft propelled entirely by the muscle power of its operator(s). Hydrofoils are the fastest water-based vehicles propelled solely by human power.

How do personal hydrofoils work? ›

Like an airplane wing, the foils have areas of high and low pressure. The wings on the foil deflect water pressure downward and, given Newton's Law about equal and opposite reactions, the upward motion pushes the board and (hopefully) its rider into the air.

What is hydrofoil boat? ›

hydrofoil, underwater fin with a flat or curved winglike surface that is designed to lift a moving boat or ship by means of the reaction upon its surface from the water through which it moves. Ships that use hydrofoils, or foils, are themselves called hydrofoils.

What is the advantage of a hydrofoil on a boat? ›

Increased Speed

Hydrofoils can increase the speed of your vessel drastically. With the lift that occurs once your hydrofoils are operating, you're dealt with less drag and resistance that's caused by the water. Thanks to this, your boat will be able to cruise at greater speeds that you've never thought was possible.

How fast do electric hydrofoils go? ›

EFoiling is often deemed the “future of water sports.” The unique propulsion system can reach speeds of up to 20-28 mph, depending on the type of eFoil you purchase. The electric motor can typically run up to one hour, but this timeframe can vary based on the size of the rider and the speed they wish to travel.

What is the purpose of hydrofoils? ›

Hydrofoils are the plates that bolt on your outboard cavitation plate, which increase the surface area of the plate. They work by lifting the boat out of the water as the boat gathers speed, creating less drag. This helps to increase acceleration, giving you more power and reduced strain on the engine.

How do you control a hydrofoil? ›

Hydrofoil Control: How to Stay on Foil - YouTube

Why do hydrofoils work? ›

How do Hydrofoil boats work? Air flows over and under an aircraft, wing to create a lift. Similarly, a hydrofoil pushes the boat's hull out of the water by generating a lift, allowing the vessel to 'fly' faster. Most of these boats can easily reach top speeds of 40 to 50 knots.

What are the different types of hydrofoils? ›

So, what are the differences in these hydrofoils?
  • KITEBOARDING HYDROFOILS AND FOILBOARDS.
  • SURFING HYDROFOILS AND FOIL SURFBOARDS.
  • SUP HYDROFOILS AND SUP FOILBOARDS.
  • WAKEFOILS AND WAKEFOIL BOARDS.
  • WINDSURF FOILS AND WINDSURF FOILBOARDS.

What are hydrofoils made of? ›

The first and most influential component of hydrofoil cost is the construction. Kiteboarding hydro-foils fall into one of two predominant construction methods; aluminum and carbon fiber.

Are hydrofoils safe? ›

With a hydrofoil, you have full three-dimension control - roll, pitch, and yaw - over the board. So, a hydrofoil can potentially become a dangerous, deadly weapon. Keep a distance and stay away from everyone else.

How much do hydrofoils cost? ›

There are different kinds of hydrofoil boards. Surf foils include the board and the foil but no motor, requiring users to create momentum with their own bodies, and typically cost about $2,000. Efoils have electric motors that let them reach speeds of 25 miles per hour and typically sell for at least $10,000.

How long can you hydrofoil for? ›

Models like the Epic Electric Hydrofoil lasts around 60 minutes when used to fly. Others, however, may have a flying time of 70-90 minutes. Most e-foil boards also operate on an average speed of 20 km/hour. Depending on battery life, some have a top speed of up to 50 km/hour.

How do hydrofoils go faster than the wind? ›

The sails divert the wind slightly as it blows across them, which slows the wind and exerts a sideways force on the sail. The keel (the large fin that extends down beneath the hull) cancels out the sideways force. But, if the sail is angled correctly, some of that force also drives the boat forward.

Does a hydrofoil increase speed? ›

Hydrofoils work to help a boat reduce drag and increase speed. Because water provides resistance to a ship trying to move through it, the resulting pushback can make a vessel slow down, even at peak operation.

What is a hydrofoil and how does it work? ›

A hydrofoil board is basically a surfboard with a foil attached at the bottom of its surface, which acts as a lifting force. The hydrofoil is similar to the aerofoil attached in airplanes. The design of the hydrofoil board makes it unique as it can leave the surface of the water at various speeds.

Does a hydrofoil make a difference? ›

Adding a hydrofoil to an outboard does provide a performance boost much of the time. The smaller the boat the more significant the impact is, especially on boats that don't have trim tabs.

Are hydrofoils hard to use? ›

You need to be able to surf quite well to surf foil. Starting is hard, and you need to start in small forgiving waves with a helmet on. It's a steep learning curve so take your time and be safe. You will need a foil board similar size to your regular surfboard or smaller.

Are hydrofoils fuel-efficient? ›

Using hydrofoils bring several advantages, and one of the big advantages is drastically lowering the impact that the FOILER has on the environment. It is not only more fuel-efficient, but it brings a whole new level of eco-consciousness.

What is an electric hydrofoil? ›

An electric hydrofoil is a surfboard with a hydrofoil attached with mechanical means of propulsion. The electric motor on the hydrofoil generates the speed required to lift the board up out of the water and onto the foil. The craft is manoeuvred by the rider shifting their weight on the board.

What happened to hydrofoils? ›

Hydrofoil Navy ships were a technical success, but failed to find their footing. In the end, all six ships were posted to Key West, Florida, where they participated in counter-drug operations and even the U.S. invasion of Grenada. At the end of the Cold War, the ships were retired and not replaced.

How do hydrofoils float? ›

“[The hydrofoil] works under the exact same principles as an airplane,” Bangs told me. “You have two wings, one in the back and one in the front as a stabilizer, and you have high pressure and low pressure areas on the wing. And as it moves through the water, that creates lift just like with an airplane.”

How does a hydrofoil move forward? ›

How do hydrofoils work - a deep dive into the physics - YouTube

How do you pump a hydrofoil? ›

How to Pump a Hydrofoil | Learn Foil Wing Pumping Tips & Techniques

Where do you mount a hydrofoil? ›

Surf Hydrofoil Mounting Position Guide - YouTube

Are hydrofoils electric? ›

A hydrofoil-equipped, electric-powered surfboard that flies above the water at more than 35 mph for two hours on a single charge makes for a fun afternoon, but it may also be a harbinger of the boating industry's future.

Do hydrofoils have motors? ›

Like all of the e-foils, it has an electric motor, battery (in this case lithium-ion) and a hand controller. Lift's is connected via Bluetooth. Riders can fly for up to an hour at speeds of 25 mph or more.

How does a hydrofoil generate lift? ›

Hydrofoils let us fly above the water, breaking free of the drag and rough ride of a board moving through the water. A foil's shape and angle of attack generates lift (force generated perpendicular to flow) that is greater than the drag (force generated parallel to the flow) when moving through a fluid.

Does a hydrofoil increase speed? ›

Hydrofoils work to help a boat reduce drag and increase speed. Because water provides resistance to a ship trying to move through it, the resulting pushback can make a vessel slow down, even at peak operation.

How does a hydrofoil move forward? ›

How do hydrofoils work - a deep dive into the physics - YouTube

How can I get more speed out of my boat? ›

Boating Tips: How to Make Your Boat Go Faster - YouTube

What is the purpose of hydrofoils? ›

Hydrofoils are the plates that bolt on your outboard cavitation plate, which increase the surface area of the plate. They work by lifting the boat out of the water as the boat gathers speed, creating less drag. This helps to increase acceleration, giving you more power and reduced strain on the engine.

How do you control a hydrofoil? ›

Hydrofoil Control: How to Stay on Foil - YouTube

What is a hydrofoil and how does it work? ›

How Hydrofoils Work - YouTube

How long can you hydrofoil for? ›

Models like the Epic Electric Hydrofoil lasts around 60 minutes when used to fly. Others, however, may have a flying time of 70-90 minutes. Most e-foil boards also operate on an average speed of 20 km/hour. Depending on battery life, some have a top speed of up to 50 km/hour.

How safe is a hydrofoil? ›

"They're very dangerous and do not belong in the surf zone with the masses and general public." Although there are talented and wise foil riders who know what they're doing, there is also a growing number of surfers taking them to crowded lineups and near-shore waters. Regular surfers and swimmers are at risk.

Does a hydrofoil make a difference? ›

Adding a hydrofoil to an outboard does provide a performance boost much of the time. The smaller the boat the more significant the impact is, especially on boats that don't have trim tabs.

What are the different types of hydrofoils? ›

So, what are the differences in these hydrofoils?
  • KITEBOARDING HYDROFOILS AND FOILBOARDS.
  • SURFING HYDROFOILS AND FOIL SURFBOARDS.
  • SUP HYDROFOILS AND SUP FOILBOARDS.
  • WAKEFOILS AND WAKEFOIL BOARDS.
  • WINDSURF FOILS AND WINDSURF FOILBOARDS.

What are hydrofoils made of? ›

The first and most influential component of hydrofoil cost is the construction. Kiteboarding hydro-foils fall into one of two predominant construction methods; aluminum and carbon fiber.

How do you stand up on a hydrofoil? ›

How to Get Up on a Foil - YouTube

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