A young woman carries a surfboard over her head.

Hydrofoils and E-surfboards: floating above the water


Hydrofoils and E-surfboards: floating above the water

June 6, 2019

Kite surfing and windsurfing have long been popular. Racing before the wind, the athletes skim over the water at incredible speeds. Experts can even perform tricks. The new hydrofoils take the experience to a new level. They enable the athletes to float above the water – and some even feature an electric drive system. But what exactly is behind the technology?

Discover here:

  • Why hydrofoil is not a new invention
  • How the technique is used in kite surfing
  • What advantages it offers windsurfers
  • How hydrofoiling is possible even without wind using E-surfboards

What initially sounds like a revolutionary technology has actually been around for more than 100 years. After all, the hydrofoil is essentially nothing more than a wing. The development of the first boats like these began as early as 1900. The idea came from the airship designer Enrico Forlanini – who even reached a speed of 38 knots (70 km/h) with the first ever model built. A propeller provided the propulsion.

Since then, the technology has been used in numerous boats. Hydrofoils are used as passenger transports, by the military and for sport. With sails, the latter usually do not need motors. The hydrofoil is are attached to the hull and lift the boat into the air as it travels. This gives passengers the feeling of floating above the water. The primary advantage of hydrofoils is that they reduce the drag created by the water. This enables higher speeds. In addition, gliding with a hydrofoil is much quieter.

Hydrofoils while kite surfing

Close-up of a kite surfer.
Spectacular water sports: kite surfers also benefit from hydrofoils. 


When kite surfing, athletes take advantage of the wind in a unique way. Instead of using the wind as direct propulsion via a sail, they fly a kite. Used correctly, the kites generate powerful propulsion and incredible speeds in good conditions. The kites can also be used to perform spectacular jumps and tricks. A kite can also benefit from hydrofoils. High speeds are even possible in light winds. Those who like to race have a major advantage because of the low hydrodynamic drag. Kite foiling can be a lot of fun, but requires a lot of practice. Beginners definitely need lessons from a professional to learn how to kite foil safely. Renting a board is a better option for those who only kite foil occasionally. Otherwise kite foiling is an expensive passion. A kite foil board costs around 500 euro. The matching hydrofoil then costs around 800 euro. The whole set adds up to 1300 euro or more – without a stunt kite.

The hydrofoil while windsurfing

Compared to water sports with a kite, windsurfing is much more dependent on the wind. The sail is connected to the board and is usually less than half the size of the largest kite. However, this disadvantage can be minimized very well with the hydrofoil. By lifting the board out of the water, even lower wind speeds are enough to have fun with the surfboard. Whereas a hydrofoil can give beginners a little extra safety when kiting, windsurfing is a different matter. Professionals strongly recommend that you first start out with a normal board. You should only switch to a hydrofoil once you can balance confidently on the board. The athletes require a very secure and upright stance to avoid plunging into the water. With increasing experience the fun also increases. The boards are in no way inferior to the kites when it comes to price. A reasonable board costs around 2000 euro and the foil about 800 euro. Sail not included.


E-surfboards: The wind doesn't matter

Despite hydrofoils: when kiting and windsurfing, the athletes are always dependent on the right weather. Without wind, the board and athlete are stuck on shore. This can be a major source of frustration when there is only a little time during the holiday. The ocean is also not always nearby - surfing is a major challenge on lakes with less wind and waves. E-surfboards, often with hydrofoils, are one solution. They are equipped with an motor which handles the propulsion. Now nothing stands in the way of fun on calm waters. A basic distinction must be made between boards with jet and propeller propulsion systems. Jet propulsion enables higher speeds but also required larger batteries. With smaller batteries, the propeller boards are lighter but also slower. The running times vary greatly depending on the manufacturer and price class. Speaking of price: an E-surfboard costs about 8000 euro or more. However, you can rent one for around 100 euro. This might well be the better option because certain rules also apply on the water. If you break those rules with an unregistered or excessively fast E-surfboard, you end up paying hefty fines.

The summary: more fun with current surf trends

Whether hydrofoil or E-surfboard: the new trends on the water are equally interesting for both beginners and professionals. But buying a board requires significant investment. In many cases, renting the sports equipment is more worthwhile. This makes it easy to test whether you are more comfortable with kite foiling, windsurfing or e-boarding. In addition, many rental companies also offer courses for beginners.