While they may not yet be a common sight on the world's beaches, powered surfboards have been cropping up on a fairly regular basis since Gizmag first covered the PowerSki JetBoard a decade ago. Now, Spanish firm Aquila is planning to launch a new range of zippy electric-powered boards, each designed for different surfing styles.
Aquila is spin-off from Bizintek Innova, a product development and engineering company that specializes in electronics. It initially began as a project to develop an electric propulsion system for use in water-sports.
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"We were training on low voltage power electronics, motor control and LiPo battery management systems to get the know-how needed to offer development services for electric vehicle customers," explains Aquia CEO Iñigo Sobradillo Benguría. "We searched for an application to test and thought that trying to get a board planing over the water would be a great challenge. When we tested the first prototypes on the beach, people were impressed and came to ask where could they get one. At that time we realized that there could be an opportunity for a product."
Made possible as a result of improvements in battery technology in recent years, the boards use a completely integrated electric-powered jet propulsion system and produce no noise or emissions.
"It gets some water from the bottom part of the board and pressurizes it through the nozzle on the tail giving the board the thrust needed," explains Benguría. "Thrust is regulated through a wireless remote control and to turn it works like a surfboard. We have a high current Mosfet drive system with a microprocessor that controls the brushless motor and some other electronics for safe operation of the system."
According to Benguría, the water pump was, in fact, the most challenging part of the design. The Aquila team was unable to find a suitable and efficient solution on the market, so ended up designing its own. The result, he says, was a lightweight, high efficiency and completely integrated system.
The battery packs that are used to power the boards are replaceable, meaning that they can be swapped out and recharged while a fresh battery is swapped in to continue powering the board.
The company is currently evaluating interest in the three electric board designs and seeking investors. The aim is to enter production in 2015.
Three board types are available. The entry-level Manta is aimed at beginners and those who enjoy relaxed cruising over flat water. Its top speed of 33 km/h (21 mph) is the lowest of the three options, but it also has the longest battery life at 30 minutes. It measures 230 x 98 cm (91 x 39 in) and will retail for €2800 (US$3800).
The Carver is designed for high-speed slaloming across the surface of the water. At 245 x 68 cm (98 x 27 in), it's the longest of the three boards and is aimed at giving the user control for turning. It has a top speed of 71 km/h (44 mph) and will cost €3300 ($4485).
Aimed at freestyle riders, the Blade is the smallest and lightest of the three Aquila boards and is designed to provide optimal maneuverability. It measures 185 x 60 cm (73 x 24 in), weighs 18 kg and has a top speed of 53 km/h (33 mph). It is to be priced at €2900 ($3942).
"Most of our team does or has done some watersports and we are very conscious that each person needs a different board," says Benguría. "We have developed a system that fits easily on different configurations and this way we are able to produce boards for different programs and different riders."
The video below shows the Aquila Carver in action.
Product page: Aqulia