Flite from Australia developed the Fliteboard – an electric hydrofoil which lets you fly above the water controlled by a remote control in your hand. CEO and founder David Trewern who was grown up in the small Australian surf town Merimbula and started to surf and windsurf with 10 years. Later on he switched to kitesurfing where he broke the GPS speed world record of 44.9 knots in 2015. Through kitesurfing he got also introduced to hydrofoils.
Fliteboard – the beginning
For days without wind David was thinking about a hydrofoil with electric motor and worked on up to 20 prototypes with friends. His goal was very soon to develop the first electric hydrofoil with the motor integrated into the fuselage. What had started as a project for fun became a full time startup to bring out the Flite Fliteboard.
David had already founded 2 successful companies which had hundreds of employees at the end, but the Fliteboard was according to him the most complex process. The first months the focus was on the engineering process and hundreds of hours in front of the computer to define the right setup. The board, the foil, propulsion systems, battery and remote control were challenging hardware and software projects.
David found out that he needs more power than he expected and at the same time the weight needed to be reduced. And of course all components need to be salt-water resistant. He didn’t allow any compromises, he said, to develop a product that he would not only buy, but queue up to buy. David is living and working Byron Bay very close to the beach which allows him to test his e-foils almost every day. He spent several hundred hours on the Fliteboard to test it again and again.
I had the chance to meet David and the team multiple times. The first time was in summer 2018 where I had the chance to ride the prototypes in Spain. I was riding the inflatable version and the standard version and certainly enjoyed it. It was much easier to ride than 2 other electric hydrofoil I tried before. Only the Lift Foils eFoil gave me a similar experience. I meet the team again in January 2019 at boot in Dusseldorf for a video interview.
The electric hydrofoil from Flite started shipping to some beta users end of 2018 and began to deliver pre-orders in April 2019. The board comes in 3 versions:
- Fliteboard Air – The Air model is the largest board with 198 cm length and 76 cm width and is an inflatable board. It has more volume which makes it easier to stand on. However, it has more resistance on the water surface than the carbon fibre models which makes it actually smoother to switch to the standard model once you get a feeling for the foil. The Air is ideal for rentals and yacht owners.
- Fliteboard (Standard) – The standard model would fit for most of the riders. It is the allrounder with a length of 172 cm and a width of 71 cm. It has a carbon fibre hull and is available in black, white and ash.
- Fliteboard Pro – The pro model is shorter with a length of only 152 cm and a width of 62 cm. It is designed for lighter riders for higher speeds and more aggressive carving. It has also a carbon fibre hull and is available in black, white and ash.
All models are using the same modular components such as the mast which is available in 60 cm and 75 cm length. While the shorter mast is easier for beginners the larger mast is better for choppy water and aggressive turns. Both sizes are available in either aluminium or black color.
The batteries come also in 2 choices. there is a sport version which is lighter, but has less range. The Cruiser version which is about 350 EUR more expensive is probably the better choice for most riders as it gives 1 hour riding time. In addition you have 2 choices for the wings. The Cruiser wing and the Fly wing, which is smaller for higher speeds up to 40 km/h.
We were lucky and were able to get one of the first boards which were exhibited at the boot show. Our choice was the standard board in ash with 75 cm aluminium mast powered by the Cruiser battery and Cruiser wing.
One of the unique features (at least by spring 2019) are the virtual gears which can be set on the remote control. You have 20 gears in order to limit your maximum speed. This is helpful for beginners because once they figure out the right speed, they can always pull the full throttle and don’t need to worry about keeping the speed constant.
The remote control has a very bright display which informs you about speed, travel distance, battery charge and of course warns you if something would be wrong. Of course it is water-proof and is secured by a small leash to your wrist. The hand controller is also your “virtual security leash” as the board will automatically stop once the Bluetooth connection ist lost. This happens right away if you fall into the water. You also need to arm the board with the remote control by holding it to a sensor at the top of the board and then pull the trigger within 5 seconds. Otherwise the motor will not start. This is to protect you in case you pull the trigger by mistake before you are ready to ride.
The set ships with 3 bags. One board bag, one bag for the remote, the foil, wings, charger and tools as well asa case for the battery. We hope you enjoyed this Fliteboard overview and we have a Fliteboard section in our electric surfboard forum where you can ask additional questions.