World-first hydrofoil board uses flight computer for on-water stability
Although they're far from the cheapest way to enjoy some time in the water, electric hydrofoil boards are gaining in popularity as more and more models enter the scene. But some are easier to ride than others. The newly introduced Level Board is very much aimed at the beginner end of the spectrum, offering a gentle learning curve for newcomers by using aerospace-grade sensors and a flight computer to remain stable across the water.
Among the growing number of hydrofoil boards available, we've seen a few interesting examples designed to make the sport more welcoming for beginners. Fliteboard, one of the bigger names in the space over the past few years, launched its second generation of boards earlier this year and included an inflatable version for increased stability, while the HydroFlyer we looked at in April featured a set of handlebars to offer budding riders extra points of contact.
The Level Board, from startup Level Hydrofoils, takes a high-tech approach to ensuring more thrills than spills for those just starting out. Like the aforementioned examples, the Level Board is a single-mast hydrofoil with a subsurface wing that lifts the board up out of the water as it picks up speed, but it takes its cues from inbuilt aerospace-grade sensors that constantly collect data on the orientation of the board and detect any deviations from a leveled flight.
This data is analyzed by a flight computer and passed onto the drivetrain and rudder to make the necessary corrections to keep the board on an even plane. Otherwise, if the rider feels like they've got a handle on things, this stabilization assistance can be adjusted or completely turned off via the companion mobile app. According to Level Hydrofoils, this is first single-strut hydrofoil board in the world to offer this kind of functionality.
Other features of the Level Board include hands-free navigation, where the user leans in different directions to accelerate, slow down or veer left and right, and a "virtual safety leash," which consists of sensors that detect when the rider has fallen off and safely brings the board to a stop. Like the HydroFlyer, there is also an optional set of attachable handlebars for those after something to hang onto.
The Level Board will come in two variants, the two-meter (6.5-ft) Level Plane and the longer 2.1-meter (6.9-ft) Level Extend, which offers a higher payload capacity of up to 120 kg (264 lb) and a slightly longer ride time per charge of two hours, compared to one and a half.
The company tells us via email it is yet to settle on a final price for these boards, but expects a consumer version to land some time in 2022 for "roughly" US$12,000.
Source: Level HydroFoils