Fliteboards began shipping after an extensive 3-year development program. Fliteboard is based in Byron Bay, Australia, but has a European subsidiary (Fliteboard Europe s.r.l.) located near Venice in Italy. Fliteboard is currently producing and shipping around 30 boards per week. Customers from over 35 countries have ordered boards, with the majority of customers based in Europe. The waiting time is currently 8 weeks.
Shipping was initially delayed by a couple of months, as David and his engineering team kept on refining the Fliteboard product in pursuit of perfection. Data connectors, seals, fixings have all been refined after around 10,000km of on water testing. Fliteboard creator David Trewern says:
“The extra effort has been well worth it, and initial customer feedback has been exceptional. In-fact around 20% of the first customers ordered a 2ndFliteboard within a few weeks (either for themselves, family or a friend).”
“Every time I ride Fliteboard I am reminded what a special product this is. Driven by our passion to make something truly great, we have ended up spending four times our initial research and development budget. There were so many challenges to overcome, and we saw these as opportunities to make a really standout product. We really have taken the eFoil concept to a whole new level”.
Trewern has a background as an award winning graphic and digital designer and entrepreneur, heralding from a family of architects and engineers.
“From the outset Fliteboard needed to be as beautiful as it is functional. We set out to create new innovations to ensure Fliteboard stood out from the competition”.
Inspired by companies such as Porsche, Apple, Wally Yachts, DJI and Tesla, Trewern and his team set about creating a craft that they themselves would aspire to own. Some of the design features of the final production Fliteboard include:
Fliteboards unibody Hydrofoil fuselage and propulsion system
“Simply attaching the motor to the hydrofoil mast wasn’t good enough for us. We created our world first ‘unibody’ powered hydrofoil fuselage – sculptured from a single block of aircraft grade aluminum. It took countless attempts to get the design and engineering right, but the outcome is superior hydrodynamic performance, efficiency and a more compact and robust design”
The Fliteboard drive train uses a German made reduction gearbox. This allows for use of a smaller diameter motor that generates torque at higher RPM – which is where electric motors are most efficient. The end result is runtime of up to 90 minutes for an 80kg rider, and up to 30km range.
Instead of using water cooling tubes, Fliteboard has developed the patented Flitebox system. This combines the board attachment mechanism with electronics housing, waterproofing and cooling. Fliteboard’s custom electronics system and motor controller are housed in the Flitebox and bonded to the Aluminum mast to act as a giant heat sink. This system makes for much simpler connection of components, as the motor controller is permanently attached to the motor itself.
“We wanted the smallest hand controller in the market. We also wanted sophisticated rider functions that could be software upgradeable into the future. This allows us to keep evolving the product and upgrading functions for our customers; in the same way that you can upgrade your iPhone software, or unlock new features in a Tesla after purchase”.
The Fliteboard electronics will be updatable over Bluetooth via the soon to be released Fliteboard App. This is similar to other electric hydrofoil manufacturers such like Lift Foils. A GPS and datalogger is included which allows riders to download and share their rides, review system statistics and send diagnostic information to Fliteboard.
The hand controller uses hall sensors for precise throttle response, but also proprietary software functions like ‘virtual gears’. This system provides consistent power, which allows riders to focus on balancing on the board rather than on the throttle. In our own testings last year we were a big fan of the virtual gears as it indeed helps at the beginning, but after 1-2 hours you usually go to the top gear to have the flexibility on the water to deal with wind and waves.
Safety features not seen on other boards are also included such as automatic shut-off and magnetic arming. This acts as a virtual leash, so you can’t run the propeller without confirming you are on the board and ready to go, and after a crash the system disarms. Safety is important and there is no doubt about it. Advanced riders however might get enjoyed after some time to arm the board every time they want to start foiling. The process is like following. You have to hold the remote control to a sensor at the top of the board and pull the throttle within 5 seconds in order to start the engine. Some people may like this additional level of safety, some may not.
The GPS based trip computer monitors the Flite Cell smart battery and provides live ride data such as remaining distance and time, and includes a efficiency optimiser screen that helps riders minimise energy consumed.
Fliteboard offers two batteries including the ‘Sport’ 1.56kwh battery and the ‘Explore’ which is a 2.1kwh unit.
Trewern had this to say about the battery:
“The battery is a such a critical component for safety, endurance, performance and longevity. We have worked really hard to create what we believe is the world’s best portable marine battery. Our case has been drop tested from a 2m height and maintained it’s waterproofing every time. We have included many new innovations like a magnetic on-off switch and a sight-glass that provides a reliable manual water sensor, allowing the user to double check for water ingress before charging the battery. We have used extremely high quality and high power 18650 cells that generate minimal heat and allow heavier riders and those seeking high performance to get maximum results from their Fliteboard”
As far as materials go, Fliteboard has spared no expense according to David:
“We were told by a number of experts that it wasn’t possible to create a quality wood finish board that met our strength and weight requirements. But we persevered, and the result is one of the most sophisticated watersport boards of any type. The Ash veneer Fliteboards are designed to be right at home on a Super Yacht in the Mediterranean”.
Regular Carbon fibre wasn’t enough for Fliteboard:
“We sourced Innegra Carbon hexagonal weave from Italy. Innegra is the lightest fibre commercially available, as well as being literally bulletproof”.
After 35 years windsurfing and surfing and 20 years kitesurfing – founder Trewern now spends his spare time almost exclusively on a Fliteboard.
‘Foiling above the water continuously is such an amazing experience that I never get tired of. While Fliteboard can travel at up to 45 km/h, riding at relatively slow speeds can be really fun. Carving turns, riding swells or exploring rivers and lakes. You don’t have to worry about wind or waves. I love all water based board sports – but I’m really loving the cruisey experience of Fliteboard above all else. Just turn it on and go. It gets your heart rate up, it can be challenging to balance and you work your legs and your core. After a long day at work it’s more of a relaxing than high adrenaline experience. But of course you can push it as hard as you like. If you really get into turns and ocean swells, it feels like you are riding one long continuous glassy wave for up to 90 minutes, which is simply amazing”.
Fliteboard and other electric hydrofoil manufacturers are also arguably the world most ocean friendly powered watercraft, running for up to 25 km on a charge without emissions, noise or wake. David hopes Fliteboard (and products like it) open the door to a new era of quiet, pollution free and highly efficient water transport.
“Living in Byron bay – I’d love to see a day where the only power boats in the bay are quiet, efficient, electric powered and emission free. We hope Fliteboard is the first of many products that can help us arrive at that future”.
Fliteboard is available for order worldwide with a refundable deposit at Fliteboard.com. Fliteboard is priced at $9,995 € excluding shipping and taxes. The waiting list is currently 8 weeks. There is still time to get flying this summer.