HydroFlyer South Africa
  • Unifoil, founded in Jeffrey’s Bay in 2014, has teamed up with a Canadian inventor to create the HydroFlyer.
  • This electric hydrofoil board is described as a “a combination of a motorcycle, hydrofoil, and personal watercraft.”
  • Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the HydroFlyer lifts out of the water at 7.4 km/h and has a top speed of 56 km/h.
  • It goes on sale on 2 May and will retail for $14,000 (R199,000).
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A South African company has developed an electric hydrofoil which features motocross-inspired handlebars and can glide across the water at speeds of up to 56 km/h. The HydroFlyer goes on sale on 2 May and costs $14,000 (R199,000).

Founded in the popular surfing town of Jeffrey’s Bay in 2014, Unifoil has developed several hydrofoil-equipped surfboards which are sold in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Brazil. Foilboards use hydrodynamic wings mounted to submerged struts to provide lift which, in turn, reduces drag and increases speed.

Traditional foilboards rely on the rider’s kinetic energy to gain lift and speed but in 2018 electric-powered personal hydrofoils became commercially available. These e-Foils, featuring a small electric motor which powers a submerged propeller, allows for higher speeds and reduced rider-fuelled movement.

To create the HydroFlyer – described as “a combination of a motorcycle, hydrofoil, and personal watercraft” – Unifoil teamed up with Canadian inventor Jerry McArthur. With years of experience riding dirt bikes and snowmobiles, McArthur incorporated detachable handlebars for added balance and control aimed at novice foilboarders.

“Adding four points of contact makes e-Foiling easier to learn and balance,” said McArthur ahead of the HydroFlyer’s release.

“This enables a safer learning curve, more control, and a faster ride… while also allowing advanced riders to perform more extreme manoeuvres.”

The lightweight carbon-fibre HydroFlyer gains lift at 7.4 km/h and speeds of up to 56 km/h are adjusted by a wireless controller.

“That’s when it feels like flying… there truly is no feeling in the world quite like it,” added McArthur.

An onboard lithium-ion battery powers the electric motor which is built into the board’s waterproof mast.

A fully charged battery lasts for approximately two hours of e-Foiling and takes as much time to recharge, according to the HydroFlyer’s creators.

In keeping with McArthur’s aim to attract beginner e-Foilers, emphasis has been placed on the rider’s safety by using Unifoil’s patented “Safety Foil”. This technology covers the board’s mast and wings with protective rubber edges while maintaining the craft’s hydrodynamic properties.

While the HydroFlyer’s design aims to make e-Foiling more accessible, its R200,000 price tag puts it as one of the most expense electronic foilboards on the market. Lift Foils, the company which pioneered e-Foiling, recently released its “Explorer” range with top models retailing for $12,000.00 (R170,500).

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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