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How I Built an Electric Flying Surfboard from the Ground Up.

How I Built an Electric Flying Surfboard from the Ground Up.

I was hooked. Nothing compared to the sensation of flying over water carving smooth, bottomless turns. It’s a feeling so unique; it kept me coming back for more. There was only one problem…I had no one to share it with.

To harness the power of a wave and surf like a bird, although extremely rewarding, is difficult. Not because riding a foil is hard, but controlling the source -flying a kite or surfing a wave- takes skill. To harness that type of power and gain excellent control is something that may take years to master.

So I set out to make it easy.

I started with the simple task of strapping an electric motor to our foils. My team and I took some parts we had in the shop, cut holes in them, bought some parts off the shelf and pretty much duct-taped pieces together. It took some tweaking, but eventually we got our first ride of about 50 feet. 



 
From that moment on, I was possessed. Imagine taking someone that has never dreamt of surfing, deep powder snowboarding or flying. A person that doesn’t live the extreme lifestyle and within minutes they feel it all. They’re soaring like a bird, carving butter smooth turns and experiencing the freedom of flying through the freeways of the ocean, rivers or lakes. That was my goal, but what I thought would take a year to build took a whole lot more.

It’s one thing to build a prototype. It’s quite another to design a consumer-friendly product that’s safe, reliable and completely badass. We couldn’t just buy parts and assemble them. We had to design and build everything from the ground up. The components just didn’t exists. And to top it off, there was no product in the market to reference.  

So how did we build it?

The first few years were a chase. We had to convince the best minds in their field to work with us to build a flying surfboard. And yes... Pitching a flying surfboard is no easy task. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And after countless conversations, costly contracts and lots of pleading, my father and I were able to convince enough brilliant minds to help us build the components necessary to create the world’s first wireless, electric foil board.

And let me tell you it wasn’t quite as simple as strapping a motor to our foils...

The battery alone was half the battle. It’s the energy source that propels the eFoil over water for many miles in rugged conditions. Batteries can be dangerous when not properly designed and integrated into a system. If you cut corners, you’ll pay the cost! So even though we paid a premium price, our lithium batteries were custom built by the best in the USA to keep cars on the road and airplanes in the sky. Much like commercial aircrafts, our design and construction was based on the principle that it should be overbuilt, reliable and safe.

The next challenge was the hand controller. I was surprised to find out a bluetooth, wireless, waterproof, buoyant hand controller didn't already exist. We had to design, build and test it for the application. Integrating, among others, magnetic actuators, sensors and screens. It was quite the challenge, but well worth it because our hand controller was successfully designed to be an extension of the rider. It works reflexively meaning you have complete control over your ride. By simply pressing the lever on the hand controller the motor responds instantaneously to your command adjusting the speed. It also throttles you back in the event of low battery so you can get back to shore safely.

So what now?

After years and many iterations, we evolved from the “Spruce Goose” prototype with cheap hobby store batteries into a sophisticated craft that has some serious horsepower and aerospace electrical safety standards. The best part is I’ve taken countless friends and peers to our local lake and had them foiling within minutes. Some were athletes, some weren’t, but everyone had fun flying over water.

The journey has been long and arduous. I’ve broken down on many occasions in the face of failure. My shop burned to the ground. Girlfriends have run away and we’ve spent way too much money to get here, but now the fun begins.

How a Small Hydrofoil Brand Became the Leader in Foil Technology.

How a Small Hydrofoil Brand Became the Leader in Foil Technology.

With passion and a dream, engineering visionary Nick Leason cofounded Lift in 2009 to combine his love for surfing with the desire to fly. Foiling was relatively unknown at the time, but Nick had ambition and the willingness to work hard. He saw huge potential in these “flying surfboards” and immediately began designing foil boards despite his lack of experience.

A hydrofoil (or foil) board is a water board with a set of wings underneath it. Like an airplane, those wings lift the board off the water when a little speed is added. However, instead of flying on air the hydrofoil flies on water.

“We were hooked the first day we tried it and have been continuously designing and improving the sport with one goal in mind: foil board surfing for everybody,” said Nick, Co-Founder and Head Engineer at Lift.

Nick always believed in the impossible. Every year on his birthday he blew out his candles wishing to fly like his favorite superhero, Superman. As time passed by his fascination with flight only intensified. However, it evolved into a different vision; flying on water.

He assembled a team composed of accomplished shapers, engineers and artists, and alongside his father built an operation equipped with state of the art manufacturing equipment.

“Designing and building foils has been incredibly challenging,” explained Nick. “At first glance you’d think it’s a simple toy. But the foil demands precision and balance to work properly. It has taken a lot of engineering skills, athletic ability and above all perseverance to design, build, test and repeat.”

Nick’s perseverance was tested on August 26, 2016, when Lift’s 4,000 square foot factory located in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico burned down. Luckily no one was hurt, but inventory was lost along with major machinery including one of the largest CNC board machines in the world.

Nick was in China developing his latest foil when he heard the devastating news, and was forced to make difficult decisions regarding the fate of his company overseas. Nick chose to shut down MHL Custom (a company focused exclusively on building custom stand up paddle boards) and concentrate all his efforts on rebuilding Lift.

Nick’s hard work paid off. As every other major water sports brand fixated on building surfboards, kite boards, and stand up paddle boards, Lift focused exclusively on hydrofoil technology and innovation. After almost a decade, Nick laboriously positioned Lift as a leader in hydrofoil technology.

“Lift is a hydrofoil brand. We believe in the growth of the sport and the possibilities of making user-friendly hydrofoils for everyone.” said Nick. “And this is just the beginning. Hydrofoiling is literally taking off and we are continuing our commitment to new designs and experiences through foiling. Just wait to see what we have in store for you as you learn this new sport and grow with us.”