Battery-powered surfboard comes to Northwest Florida - Lift eFoil offers fast, quiet ride
With his hands clasped behind his back, Michael Percy glides silently back and forth across Cinco Bayou on a recent evening, riding a surfboard that seems to float above the water.
The craft is essentially a battery-powered surfboard that has a hydrofoil wing and propeller suspended beneath it. The eFoil is one of a series of new electric-powered personal watercraft made possible by recent advances in lithium battery technology.
Percy pops the top cover off of one of the boards and points to a battery pack about the size of a briefcase.
“It’s 196 of the same cells that are used in the Tesla Model S,” said Percy.
The removable battery pack powers the motor and shrouded propeller that sit just above the hydrofoil wing.
“It looks like it might just be a little trolling motor,” said Percy. “But that is a seriously powerful electric motor.”
With it, a rider can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
At slower speeds the board rides along the surface of the water, but as the power is increased the hydrofoil pushes the board, and the rider, up above the water for a much smoother ride.
“It’s exciting, but at the same time it’s peaceful and meditative,” said Percy.
The rider determines the speed using a wireless hand controller, which can be set to a limited speed range for children or beginning riders. It also has several other safety features designed to protect the rider.
“If you release the trigger the power stops, if the remote goes in the water the power stops,” said Percy. “And if the nose of the board goes under water the power stops.”
The controller also has a battery life indicator. According to the company’s website, battery life depends on speed and rider weight, but can range from 60 to 90 minutes.
The eFoil board has been out for a couple years and Percy said XL Kites has been carrying them for more than a year.
“Our customers love them,” said Percy, who notes that at $12,000 retail they’re comparable in price to a personal watercraft.
“People think that’s a little expensive,” said Percy. ”And then they ride it and they think how can I get one?”