If you’ve seen those foiling boards go by and thought wow, that looks like fun, a new gyroscopic e-foiling surfboard creates a totally stable platform so anyone – yes even you – can ‘learn to fly’ in seconds.
Led by lifelong water sport enthusiast Arthur Yanai, the Israeli startup Level Foils has developed a fly-by-wire monitoring and control system for its hydrofoiling electric surfboard that adjusts the drive train and underwater foil hundreds of times a second to create a self balancing board and easily learned experience.
The initial market for the Level is rentals, where vacationers or visitors would love to be able to fly across the water but don’t have the time or desire for intensive lessons or a trial and error approach.
Most e-foiling boards have a single pedestal connecting the board to the underwater foil, which has a fore and aft ‘wing’. With the Level, the aft wing is positioned on an extension behind the motor and incorporates an adjustable vertical rudder. The wings are what control the pitch (angle of the length of the board), roll (angle across the beam) and yaw – left to right steering. In the Level, the rudder assists with the yaw.
In real life the roll, pitch and yaw are all intrinsically and continually connected. That’s why you can make a surfboard or skateboard turn even if it doesn’t have a rudder. You turn by leaning to one side and changing the roll and pitch which also changes the yaw. It’s also why learning to ride one of these boards is tricky – until your body and equilibrium get the hang of it and it all feels incredibly natural.
Inspired by the ultra sophisticated sensor and motion software used in hydrofoiling electric boats from companies like Candela and Edorado, Level has developed a patent pending system in which its onboard computer collects high-rate data measured by the sensors and uses that to control the drive train, wings and rudder.
Gyroscopic e-foiling surfboard a quick learn
The rudder itself acts to govern direction as well as roll balance corrections (just like your body’s internal equilibrium system). Because any movement in the rudder is magnified by those other elements, the ride can be stabilized quickly and with reduced mechanical force. At the heart of the system is a gyroscope and active height sensor that monitors the constantly changing distance from the board to the water surface.
What all this means is that the average person can get on the board in a kneeling position and be hydrofoiling with perfect balance almost immediately. It takes some adjustment (and a couple of soakings) for a beginner to get the hang of moving to a standing position, but it is a matter of a few minutes, often less than five. There is also an inflatable, detachable handlebar available to ease the transition.
Paradoxically, it is experienced surfers and e-foilers that have the hardest time adapting to the Level. The reason is that they are intuitively used to manipulating the pitch, roll and yaw with their bodies and find it difficult to ‘let go’ and have the technology do the work for them. The Level has the option to turn off the stabilizing support.
In terms of product and performance, Level offers two models: the Plane, with a length of 1.9m (6’5″) and suitable for riders 45kg to 85kg (100 – 185lbs) and the 2.1m (6’11”) Extend for riders up to 120kg (265lbs). Both have a mast/pedestal height of 82 cm (32″) and the Extend has a total wing surface of 1800 square millimetres compared to 1400 for the Plane. The 2.2 kWh battery gives a ride time of one and a half to two hours.
Before taking off, the rider’s weight and height are entered in to the Level smart phone app along with what level of automatic stabilizing and system control is desired. The ride can also be pre-programmed by maximum speed or desired ‘flight time’.
The Plane and Extend can be pre-ordered from the Level website, with delivery before the 2022 summer season.