Fliteboard, a leading manufacturer of electric hydrofoil surfboards, announced the launch of its new sub-brand FLITElab* (there’s no more info below, that asterisk is frustratingly part of the name). The announcement coincides with the launch of FLITElab*’s first product, the AMP board, which can help surfers catch a wave, both assisted and electricity-free.
While Flitboard’s product line has largely served the wider electric hydrofoil board market that covers everything from lake and river surfing to open ocean, the new FLITElab* line is focusing on the niche within a niche of prone hydrofoil board surfing.
Also known as prone foiling, this sport differs in that the action starts more like on a traditional surfboard, with the rider starting out lying prone on the board and paddling to catch a wave. Once they’ve caught the wave on the body of the board, the hydrofoil allows them to rise out of the water and begin a more foil-style ride. That hydrofoil also allows surfers to ride waves that are smaller or faster than possible on a traditional surfboard.
So where does the electric part of the sport come in? That’s exactly what FLITElab* wants to showcase in its new AMP board featuring the company’s AMP Jet technology. The AMP Jet is an electric thruster built into the body of the board instead of just above the hydrofoil as we’ve previously seen on most electric foiling boards. That means it’s all but invisible to the naked eye – and is lighter while creating less drag.
As the company explained, “the AMP Jet is a self-contained and removable cartridge, delivering optimal power for prone foilers, wingers, and downwind enthusiasts, to get up and riding with ease regardless of the conditions. Strategic placement of the AMP Jet ensures there’s no added drag, maintaining the board’s performance integrity throughout the entirety of the ride.”
That’s the big idea: it can help foilers catch a wave even on smaller boards, yet it is less cumbersome than a traditional e-foil drive and can also be completely removed, turning the board back into a good old-fashioned (and lighter-weight) ride.
The company is also touting another motor design that they’ve dubbed the AMP Mast. It’s a slimline motor that mounts to the mast to give hydrofoil board surfers that extra boost to catch a wave or quickly return to the lineup.
Chris Reynolds, the project manager on FLITELab*’s first release, explained how the system solves a unique challenge faced by prone foilers:
“From the moment I started prone foiling I was amazed at the kind of waves I could ride; big, small, clean or messy it didn’t matter, the only problem was catching them in the first place. The agile and responsive boards I love to ride just weren’t up to the task of efficient paddling. The AMP system is our solution, the AMP Jet is integrated into the board and delivers the perfect amount of boost exactly when you need it, and is safely out of the way when you don’t.”
Controlling the board is designed to be a simple process by using the FLITELab* LAUNCH Pad embedded in the board’s nose. The unit allows riders to activate the AMP Jet for a power boost while remaining hands-free. The LAUNCH Pad enables riders to customize the power strength and timing of the boost, while an intelligent feature monitors rider position, automatically cutting power once upright or in the event of a fall.
The actual tech specs seem to be pretty slim at this point. We don’t know key figures like the power or battery capacity, though the company claims that the batteries will be allowed on airplanes, which would likely put them at under 160 Wh – comparatively tiny in the world of electric surfboards. But since the system is designed for just a quick boost to catch a wave, battery demands should be much lower than traditional electric surfboards used for surfing flat water like lakes and rivers.
Release date and pricing also seem to be somewhere out on the horizon as well. But hey, at least we’ve got some pretty videos set to some perpetually chill Fleetwood Mac, below.
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