Origins of Flite

Origins of Flite

Bringing the seemingly impossible into being

From a spark of inspiration, to a globally recognised company producing the world's most highly-awarded electric hydrofoils, Flite has come a long way in a short time.

We got here by relentlessly refining and testing our design with our eyes on the ultimate ride. Excellence is, after all, an approach – not a destination.

Our origin, however, was far more whimsical.

The idea for a motorised hydrofoil arrived on a windless day in 2016 as a 'lightbulb moment'.

Flite's founder, former kite-surfing world record holder and serial entrepreneur David Trewern, was at a kitefoiling event when he thought: ‘What if I didn’t have to wait for the wind. What if I could just attach an electric motor to my foil?’

That dream became a sketch and the kitchen table, a workshop. The 3D printer went into overdrive and late nights became early mornings. Dozens of prototypes later, David flew for the first time.

"It was magical. The feeling of freedom was like nothing else." – David Trewern

Flite now has more than 200 authorised partners selling our boards, Fliteschools across the world, and offices in three countries: Australia, The Netherlands and The United States. The company includes Naval Architects, Product Designers, Mechanical, Electronic and Software Engineers; and is focused on the intersection between electric vehicle technology and hydrofoil design.

In 2021 Flite set records for the fastest eFoil speed in the world, and hosted the first official international eFoiling race – the Flite Cup. In 2022 Flite Ambassador Tom Court and big wave surfer Glynn Ovens used Flite’s eFoils to surf the biggest waves ever ridden (Nazare) on an electric hydrofoil.

Flite has patented five new inventions and just released our latest series of upgrades, Flite Series 2.2, which melds all of our new technology into whisper-quiet rides.

Flite's full range includes the easy riding AIR, popular and dynamic Fliteboard, adrenaline inducing PRO and the acrobatic ULTRA. Our latest innovations in battery technology, management and thermal control; create new benchmarks in electric marine power.

The best part though, is the thrill we get from the ride.

Global Flite Team

While Flite started as a family affair in Byron Bay, Australia, we are now a global team with more than 70 permanent staff. Our team includes product and electronics engineers in Melbourne, hydrodynamicists in California, composites experts in Thailand and gearbox design experts in Germany.

Our headquarters remain in Byron, and we have offices in Melbourne, Amsterdam, and Nyack in New York.
Despite our relative success, the company still maintains a small business feel, possibly influenced by the 'Byron approach' to life. It’s a community full of big dreams and solid ethics.

Our Fliteboard family has grown and our boards are now enjoyed by thousands of customers in 80 countries around the world.

From legendary world champions to up-and-coming pioneers, our talented Flite ambassadors are driving the evolution of our eFoils. As partners who share our values and vision, our ambassadors embody what being a Fliteboarder is all about.

Fliteboard Sustainability
Forging the future for electric marine vehicles

At Flite we are continually innovating and developing new technologies that, when scaled, have the potential to create a future of quiet, clean ocean enjoyment and water transport.

Fliteboards are already able to carry a 90kg human at 20kph using less than 750 watts of electricity. They are quiet above the water and have an underwater acoustic profile that is significantly less impactful than even the smallest petrol marine motor.

“Fliteboards are possibly the world’s most efficient and environmentally friendly, powered marine vehicles.” – David Trewern

They are built to last and we are continually working on improving everything about them.

Striving for excellence in all areas helps us become more innovative, design more efficient parts and then makes us refine them even more.

Research and development

We’re living on the edge of innovation, constantly developing at the intersection of electric vehicle technology and hydrofoil design.

Every Fliteboard is comprised of hundreds of parts, many of them custom designed.

The majority of the development happens in our Byron Bay factory, in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, where we test our creations almost daily. We also collaborate with experts in specialist fields in the USA, Germany, Thailand and China, in our mission to create the perfect ride. A board that rides as an extension of your reflexes, glides harmoniously with nature and is part engineering and part work of art.

One of the innovations that holds our boards above others in the market is our patented unibody fuselage. We machine the motor and the mast out of one piece of aircraft grade aluminium, which takes 14 hours, rather than clamping the motor to the mast. This not only gives the foil added strength, but it acts as a heat sink, removing the need for cumbersome cooling tubes.

It's how we created the most balanced, responsive and efficient electric hydrofoil in the market.

The history of eFoils
Fliteboard was an original idea developed by our Founder David Trewern in 2016. Like many new things, similar ideas developed concurrently in different parts of the world. And from further research, we now know that there is quite a story to the first origins of the eFoil.

In a 2008 Master’s program in Naval Architecture at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, their team had a task to create a new type of aquatic vehicle. The requirements were that this vehicle had to be silent, electric, not create wake and be able to carry one person at a speed of 15 knots. The first electric hydrofoil board was created by Professor Jacob Kuttenkeuler and a group of 15 students taking part in a project called EVOLO. Their concept was a weight-shift controlled board that was ridden in the kneeling position.

After working on it for two semesters, they came up with the first electric hydrofoil, which was successfully demonstrated in the spring of 2009.

A number of similar concepts began developing independently of each other. Electric motors and batteries had developed to the point that the propulsion system could be light enough and powerful enough to be attached to the wing itself, under the water, and provide enough speed to lift the board. Some of the people with the concept were already in the watersport business. Others were just surfers or kiteboarders who had dreams of finding freedom and not being reliant on wind/waves to enjoy the water.
Kai Concepts was the first to show a working prototype of a stand-up eFoil in August 2016. 'Jetfoiler' was created by Don Montague and his team, also the developers of the kiteboat. Don coined the term eFoil on his website at the time: “a watercraft equipped with hydrofoils that uses an electric motor or motors for propulsion.”

In January 2017, Liftfoils in Puerto Rico released a teaser video of their prototype. In October 2017, Fliteboard launched their website and as the product continued to be developed over the following months various updates were made showcasing some innovative technology such as a purpose-designed unibody fuselage (combining the motor and foil into one unit to improve stability and efficiency), a Flitebox with innovate heat-sink cooling system and custom wings specifically designed for eFoiling, as well as a reduction gearbox featuring 20 virtual gears and cruise control.

In May 2018, Lift came to market with their version of the eFoil, which they began shipping later. Fliteboard began shipping their boards in June 2018. Nowadays, there are many companies manufacturing eFoils, but so far, only a few have proved that their product is robust and reliable enough to withstand the harsh marine environment. eFoiling continues to advance.

In April 2020, Flite App was launched. This allowed Fliteboard users to measure performance statistics such as distance, speed, roll, pitch, power and battery statistics, as well as replay and share their ride using GPS Flite Track. Fliteboard's goal is to help accelerate the shift towards more environmentally friendly powered marine craft and we will continue to innovate and push the boundaries in this regard.

Flite released the Series 2 Fliteboard. Series 2 introduced a new electronics and connection concept, the world's smallest eFoil (The Fliteboard ULTRA). New purpose-designed eFoil wings were also launched, including the first dihedral eFoil wings, the Flow series. Fliteboard also introduced True Glide, a free-spinning propeller with one way bearing for powered off wave rides.

Evolution is inevitable

Find out more about our unique product patents

From all our current patents to upcoming patents.