And why have they flooded Dubai?
Hotels and watersports centers have been renting out more and more efoils, but what's the hype?
We have known for a while that the future of transport is electric so it comes as no surprise that electric boats have emerged on the market. What we hadn't expected was the arrival of electric-powered boards on the scene so quickly.
The efoil (short for electric hydrofoil), the brainchild of a surfer from Puerto Rico, has been around for several years but is gaining popularity by the dozens these days. Social media has been bombarded with catchy videos of tanned surfers riding an efoil around islands in turquoise waters, Swiss lakes, and other insta-worthy destinations, so it is not unusual that Dubai has also made its way into their line of sight. Not known for its optimal wave and windsurfing conditions but rather for its flat waters and seas, Dubai has quickly turned into the world's electric hydrofoil hotspot. That also became quite clear when out of 21 companies exhibiting in the Water and Adventure Sports venue of the Dubai Boat Show this March, seven of them were efoil brands. Nowadays, it is safe to say that electric hydrofoils have completely taken over the market and especially the water toys segment.
Hydrofoils are not a new concept, but their invention was revolutionary. Generally speaking, the hydrofoil looks like a strongly elongated fin with a fuselage and so-called wings at the bottom that work on the same principle as airplanes. Once you gain momentum (traditionally from wind or waves), the stream of water passes through the front wing and stabilizer in such a way as to generate a lift force that raises the rider and the board above the surface. By using a hydrofoil, once sufficient speed is generated, friction is reduced multiple times. Energy is preserved and the cruising speed is only limited by natural factors. The efficiency, acceleration, and top speed of the watercraft are greatly increased.
Electric hydrofoils follow this trend in boardsports of reducing friction by lifting the board out of the water. The difference between the traditional hydrofoil and the efoil lies in the propulsion method - a battery-powered electric motor. The mast is also a bit thicker so that the cables can pass through from the board to the fuselage. The electric hydrofoil is equipped with a propeller or jet propeller, similar to that of a jetski which is operated with the help of a remote controller. Riders simply have to step on and pull the trigger in order to get going. No wind? No problem!
If you play around with your balance for a day or two, you will soon experience a lovely sensation of levitating. However, if you are impatient to start flying, it is recommended that you learn on an electric hydrofoil (efoil) created for newbies like those manufactured by SiFly in order to speed up the learning curve. Quite soon, you will hear no motor buzzing, just tiny ripples as you glide at speeds of up to 40 km/h.
Of course, ride time is restricted by the battery capacity, rider weight, and skills, but no self-respecting electric hydrofoil manufacturer will sell a board that runs for less than an hour. That means you will get enough flight time even on your first lesson to hook you up. And speaking of buying, be prepared to pay because these gadgets come at a price. You can purchase a whole set anywhere between 4990 € - 15 555 €, depending on the brand. Most companies offer shipping to your address, but you should first try the efoil out with an instructor, rather than simply buying a board from the first website that pops up on your search online.
Every efoil producer has his own modus operandi.
Some target pros by focusing on speed and maneuverability for their Electric hydrofoils. Others produce large boards that are able to carry around heavier loads (such as in the case of tandem surfing). Still, others focus on balancing the electric hydrofoil so that it is easier for beginners to fly out and get the hang of eFoiling quicker.
No matter what your aims and ambitions are, do your research and choose wisely. There are so many brands on the market now, that you will surely manage to find an efoil that perfectly matches your profile. You will get the hype once you start flying.