Surfing Tech makes a splash

You’d think it would be quite difficult to introduce tech to surfing. After all, all that surfers need is a bit of colourful polystyrene and some water, right? Well, that’s true to an extent – but now, thanks to something called ‘foiling’, surfers can keep riding the waves regardless of whether there are actually big enough waves or not! That’s thanks to special surfboards which have a long carbon-fibre rod underneath them that connects to two water wings.

This enables the wings to push through the water, lifting the surfboard into to the air, like it’s floating. The board looks like it’s flying almost 3ft above the water, but of course, it’s not!

In the photo (above) former professional surfer Kiana Fores is using the new technology off the coast of Oahu, a Hawaiian island. The board is called a Hydrofoil surfboard (also known as foilboards). It must be said that the momentum of the sea has to be sufficient for the technology to work.

With over 35 million surfers looking for that thrilling experience around the world, the industry sees potential (and profits) if they can develop new technology.

The underside view. Photo credit: Lift Hydrofoil

Flat sea surfing

Many foilboards now have electric propellers attached, so surfers can actually surf on flat seas. It’s a bit like the concept of electric bicycles. So, it means you can actually go surfing on lakes – which could open up a whole new type of surfer, who doesn’t really want to tackle huge frothy waves.

Hydrofoil technology really began to make an impact in surfing in 2018 when hydrofoil surfboards were introduced by a Puerto Rican business called Lift Hydrofoils. Nick Leasom, their CEO, told the BBC that their biggest sales by some margin are to people who do not live near the ocean. “They’re like 50-year-old women who live near lakes.” He reveals that over 4000 units were sold in 2021.

Meanwhile Australian company Surf Lakes specialises in artificial inland surfing, and is about to launch what it says is one of the biggest things to hit the sector. It has built a large test facility 12 miles inland from the Queensland coast where a huge man-made pool is now a mecca for surfers. A huge pump goes up and down every six seconds to create waves up to 8ft high – so you can get great waves all day long, and there are no pesky sharks to take the edge off your fun!

Photo credit: Surf lakes

Surf Lakes Chief Executive and founder Aaron Trevis says they plan to create these surfing facilities all over the world. “Imagine your best surfing session ever, on endless repeat,” he says. “The real market is the 99% of people in the world who have never surfed,” says Mr Trevis. “In the next 10 years surfing could be 10 times the size the industry it is now.”

And, for those of you wondering about the environmental impact of millions of surfboards being manufactured from plastics, fear not. A small start-up French company called Wyye says one of the solutions is 3D-printing surfboards using bio-plastics which are made from corn starch.

Photo credit: Surf Lakes

Ebuyer doesn’t sell surfboards, but DOES sell things you can surf on (we’re talking about the internet, just in case you get the wrong idea!). Check out our website here.

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