Fliteboard CEO David Trewern interview by E-Surfer

The Fliteboard electric foil developed under the leadership of CEO David Trewern is a beauty and available for pre-order sind end of March 2018. Time for an interview with David to find out more about the Fliteboard project and his motivation.

David Trewern after being the first to finish a 100km kitefoil across Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay to raise money for Cancer research
David Trewern after being the first to finish a 100km kitefoil across Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay to raise money for Cancer research

Okay. Let's start with the interview with David Trewern from Fliteboard:

David, when you were a teenager, which were your most favourite sports you did yourself?

I grew up in a small surf town in Australia called Merimbula. I learned to snow-ski, surf and sail at a young age. I windsurfed daily from age 10 with one sail, regardless as to whether it was 5 knots or 20 knots.

It didn’t matter as long as I was on the water! In 1998 I had a kitesurfing lesson with Naish in Hawaii and became hooked. In 2005 I broke the kitesurfing GPS speed world record (with a board I designed) achieving a 500m average speed of 44.9 knots.

Water sports has always been a very central part of my life.

David Trewern - CEO Fliteboard
GPS speed world record (with a board David designed)
GPS speed world record (with a board David designed)

When did you have the idea of an electric hydrofoil?

I have been racing on hydrofoil kite-boards since the beginning. I was looking at glassy water at a windless race event a few years ago when I had the idea of adding a motor to my foil. My initial idea was a small ducted unit that could be mounted between the mast and the fuselage and be removed.

I got very excited, spoke to friends, did a few drawings and started researching the physics required. Friends and I started working on ideas, but we were all busy with other businesses so it took a while to get moving. In my research I saw the Evolvo motorised hydrofoil, and then a while later Don Montague's Jetfoiler up and running for the first time (I bought my first kite from Don, so have always had big respect for him).

By this stage I had sold my previous business and started a planned year off. Which not last long as I was quickly absorbed in Fliteboard seven days a week!

How did you first prototype look like?

I tried a lot of different things initially. We made more than 20 motor prototypes and fuselage combinations. From the outset the goal was to design the first commercial powered hydrofoil with the motor integrated into the fuselage.

I wanted to increase the effective strut length, better centralise the thrust source, and reduce drag by removing wetted surface area. We have achieved all of this in our final design.

Fliteboard initial design
Fliteboard initial design
Fliteboard prototype
Fliteboard prototype

Was your intention to build a business or where you developing for your own fun?

I was passionate to make something great and having fun, but initially cautious about doing this as a business.

I knew from previous experience that either you are all in, or you will likely fail.

As I was supposed to be having a year off after 20 years in business, I was initially reluctant to call it a business. I also wanted to keep it fun for as long as possible.

All of that is a history, as our team scales rapidly to deliver an outstanding product later this year.

When did you decide to make electric hydrofoils your business?

First I became absorbed in the engineering process.

This extended into developing the design language and brand. After some very intense months working as a mad professor, I reached the point where I knew that I needed to build the best team possible.

That was going to cost a lot and require full commitment. From that point on there was no turning back.

Which were / are the biggest challenges?

Fliteboard has been as rewarding as it has been challenging.

I have always been obsessed with water sports, design, technology and business - so there could be no more exciting project.

However there have been huge challenges in bringing a product like this to market. I started my first business at the age of 23, and since have built two businesses that have grown to employ hundreds of people.

But none have had the complexities of Fliteboard. The board, foil, propulsion system, battery, and hand controller are each challenging hardware and software projects.

Each sub assembly requires complex and expensive R&D, tooling, testing, refinement and logistics.

There is a complex supply chain, regulatory, compliance and other issues.

Being a pioneer means operating in a highly dynamic environment in which the market can change rapidly.

Mixing salt water, electronics, high powered batteries and expensive materials requires great engineers from a range of different disciplines.

A lot more power is needed than initially thought, and shrinking existing technologies down and reducing weight while making a very durable product is more challenging than it may seem.

David Trewern

Which was your biggest success so far?

I am really excited about our unibody powered fuselage, and our (patent pending) Flite Box system - which I am sure all others will want to copy because it really is so good and so simple.

I’m also proud of our hand controller functionality, which will be fully outlined at a date closer to shipping.

Having experience in software user experience design has allowed me to look at all aspects from the perspective of a great overall rider experience.

So the biggest success is still to come; when our first customers smile from ear to ear riding Fliteboards.

This is a very personal mission for me, and we have made no compromises with our design, engineering or materials. We have developed a product that not only would we buy, but that we would queue up to buy!

How often are you riding your own boards, David Trewern:?

I am fortunate to live right on one of the best beaches beach in the world, in Byron Bay in Australia.

I am out riding every day that the conditions allow, which is most days.

On rare days off, I now find myself now choosing a Fliteboard over my kitefoil, my regular kiteboard, my surfboard, or my sup foil.

Paddle boarding with son Leo, who came up with the name ‘Fliteboard
Paddle boarding with son Leo, who came up with the name ‘Fliteboard

What do you plan for the future?

This is the very beginning of a whole new water sports and transport paradigm.

Being a creative by background, ideas never stop coming.

However first and foremost is delivering the best eFoil in the world as quickly as we can to our first customers.

Anything else your would like to share with your fans?

We are working with a number of water sports operators in Europe and around the world to offer lessons and Fliteboard experiences starting in the second half of 2018. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.

And of course - thanks our first customers for their trust and support. We can’t wait for you all to be unboxing your Fliteboards and enjoying them as much as we do!

Thanks also to Andreas and E-Surfer for this opportunity.

Thank you, David Trewern. If you have further question to David, please raise them in our forum.

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