Electric Foilboarding Is Now a Thing
We once saw a man walk on water.
We were sailing back home to Lowrie in San Rafael after a long, splendid day on the Bay. As we close-reached up the channel, we saw a man . . . surfing without a wave, sail or kite. If we hadn’t been keeping up on watersports trends, we may very well have thought that someone was riding a magic carpet, or walking on water. It was, of course, an electric foil board, where a small motor on the foil provides autonomous thrust.
Immediately, we pondered the existential implications of the proliferation of such craft. First thought: Damn, we want to ride one of those! (Once ashore, we Googled to check the cost . . . They’re tens-of thousands-of dollars, so, yeah, forget about that for a while.)
Second thought: If electric foilboards become relatively affordable — like wind- or kitesurfers — will the Bay be swarming with them one day? We could not help but conjure flocks of silent boards skimming the water.
Just as with drones, new technologies spawn conversations about new responsibilities. If everyone can soon jump onto their own version of a magic carpet, then, to some extent, seamanship and etiquette will obviously have to evolve with the craft on the water. And just as with wind- and kitesurfers, we’re sure that some people were less than excited to see new, fast craft all over the water. (Recently, the Coast Guard issued a statement asking kiters to be more careful in the wake of a boom in rescues.)
The libertarian in us wants to say, “Relax, it’ll be fine. People’s responsibility and better judgment will be forced to prevail.” The slightly salty, curmudgeonly worry-warts in us say, “We are so screwed if we’re relying on people’s responsibility and better judgment.”
Anyway, we want to know what you think about this particular trend. Do you shudder to think what the future might bring? Are you excited for what’s next? Can you not wait to try one of these things? Do you have one and you, like, totally want to share it with us? Please, comment below, or write us here, and if applicable, please include your boat name, make and port of call.
For a quick review of electric foilboarding here’s a youtube video we found:
First of all, as a powered “vessel,” foilboards are subject to the Rules of the Road as much as a 1000 ft cargo ship (or a 30 ft powerboat). I just wonder if those who will own one will be aware of that; maybe an opportunity for public education. Oh, and California vessel numbering.
At the same time, I find these absolutely fascinating. I live in a waterfront home in Ballena Bay in Alameda as does one of the developers of these craft, every so often I look out the window and see one of these absolutely fascinating craft skimming by.