Ready for Lift-Off

Ready for Lift-Off

The Toy You’ve Always Dreamt of is eFoil & It’s Set to Take Our Lakes by Storm

Our neighbours to the south use Aug. 19 each year to mark National Aviation Day – a holiday celebrating Orville Wright’s birth in 1871. Thanks to the latest in personal watercraft technology, many more folks will soon experience for themselves the same sensation first felt at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903.

It’s all thanks to eFoil, which is probably best described to the uninitiated as a flying surfboard or self-propelled wakeboard. It is rapidly taxiing toward certain commercial lift off thanks to its electric power source, whisper quiet operation, lack of a wake, and total absence of emissions – there’s really just one snag. Transport Canada has yet to approve eFoils for use in Canada and riding one in Ontario could get you a $350 fine if you’re caught by the wrong OPP officer on the wrong day.

But that threat doesn’t deter area pioneers in the sport like Our Lakes’ area cottager Mark Berezny and Kingston’s Phill Yendt.

Berezny had been kite foiling and foil wake surfing for several years when he first saw the eFoil. “I’d seen the eFoil on the market, but the cost is very high so it can be difficult to get into. A friend of mine decided to take on the challenge to develop one.”

That process took a little time, for obvious reasons, but it was definitely worth the wait and now Berezny and wife Michelle enjoy riding their prototype unreleased board fitted with Airush AK Durable Supply wings. “After trying his first prototype, we were both sold that it is something magical. Over the past year he’s been building more prototypes and is currently working with another company to evolve eFoiling to a pretty exciting undisclosed next step.”

As a sport, eFoiling has been around for much more than a cup of coffee now and is gaining attention with high-profile devotees like Mark Zuckerburg. While there are new designs, like that of Berezny’s friend, emerging in the market more recently, one that has a decade in existence and is commercially available in Kingston is Lift Foils.

“Lift is an amazing product … I could go on and on, but basically, they started making foils over 10 years ago,” said Yendt, who for the past 18 months has owned and operated Loyal to the Foil, a Kingston-based Lift affiliate and yes, he gives lessons. “Lift prides themselves on high-end carbon fiber products. The foils are interchangeable between the eFoil, surf foil, kite foil… etc.”

Yendt has been riding for two years as of July and there aren’t many days he isn’t out hovering across the water somewhere. “Actually, my claim to fame in the sport is that I have more time on an eFoil than anyone in Canada, maybe Top 10 in the world some people suggest,” he said. “I rode every single day for six months straight last year. I’m going for seven months straight this year.”

This is Canada, the water still freezes sometimes, you can’t do this year-round, can you?

“The longest amount of time I’ve not been on the eFoil in the last 12 months-plus is a two-week period over the winter. The lake was solid ice, but I went to Kingston Mills locks to ride the frigid open water. I wear a dry suit and ride all winter long. Can you say addicted?”

Both men agree that eFoiling isn’t particularly hard to get the hang of, especially if you’ve got other experience.

“I’ve been riding it for about one year,” said Berezny.

“I got the hang of it the first time I stepped on it; however, I have a lot of previous foil experience under my belt. Most people with some foiling experience get flying and carving in their first session. With no prior related experience, it usually takes two to three sessions to get comfortable, but the falls are gentle and the journey is enjoyable.” 

Loyal to the Foil is a great place for someone to start if they are looking for a lesson or two to see if they enjoy the sport. “Normally the average person can at least get up and ride the foil for a few moments sitting the fist lesson,” said Yendt. “Some will have it in 10 minutes, a few will require a second lesson.” Lessons are 90 minutes long and cost $250 apiece.

For them personally, the eFoil has led to many incredible experiences but there have still been some rides that stand out above the rest. For Berezny, when he’s not donning a T-Rex costume and zipping around the lake at his family’s island cottage, he likes to eFoil around the nation’s capital.

“My first sunset session on the Ottawa River … Ottawa can get some great sunsets over the River, going out on a calm night is incredibly peaceful.”

Yendt’s favourite moment isn’t likely the way you’d want to start off in the sport; “Probably riding in and out of floating ice hunks last winter.” It got him some attention, that’s for sure. “I had a friend film me from a bird’s eye view with my drone. The footage got a lot of attention. Lift found it and requested permission to use it on their site. It was right between Kai Lenny and Brian Grubb – two big names in watersports.”

The sport definitely isn’t cheap to get into, but when you consider it as an alternative to wakeboarding with its six-figure boats and shoreline crushing waves, the numbers make sense. Even as an evolved alternative to a Seadoo, the price is comparable.

“The most popular brands out there are around $14,000 US, however, there are some more affordable alternatives emerging,” said Berezny. 

Prices can vary a little by model and manufacturer. Looking specifically at a Lift 3 beginner’s foil for a 250-lb., 47-year-old rookie who longs to hover across the back lakes like Marty McFly eluding future Biff in maximum ease and comfort, they basically cost the same as a good Seadoo.

“A Lift 3 5’4” or possibly a 5’9” [foil] should be suitable to get a 250-lb. person up riding. It’s relatively easy to get people up and flying, especially if they have balance experience from other board or watersports,” said Yendt. “That’s approximately $17,500 Cdn. after importing it into the country. Although this normally gets a gasp when I tell people, if you consider the benefits the eFoil offers compared to a Seadoo for example, it makes perfect sense … All Lift eFoils are at least $12,000 US, unless you purchase old stock when they release a new model. Ballpark it’s $10,000 US for previous generation eFoil in this case.”

The Lift 3 eFoil

Offering total ride time of up to 120 minutes on a charge of the same length and reaching maximum speeds of 30 mph while flying above the water, the Lift 3 is a current state-of-the-industry leader on the eFoil scene.

“[It offers] the fastest, most durable, longest lasting eFoil experience,” states the manufacturer. “Not to mention, a completely customizable lineup of foil hardware, trusted by the best names in surf when they attempt the feats that define their legacies.”

Lift 3 eFoils use an advanced lithium-ion battery to power a silent electric motor that’s mounted on an all-carbon-fiber hydrofoil. The whole thing is run via a wireless Bluetooth hand controller. Lift 3’s brushless motors are designed and manufactured by the absolute best engineers in the industry, insists Lift. “We have achieved what no competitor has and created a proprietary, maintenance free, direct drive motor – free of cumbersome gears,” says Lift. “The Lift 3 propellers are precision machined out of a solid block of aluminum. We hand polish and balance each prop to perfection before finishing with a hard anodizing.”

The eFoil is allowed in almost any other place in the world you’d like to use it, but COVID has definitely slowed Transport Canada’s response to this emerging watercraft sensation. That said, it’s hard to imagine it not being approved here at some point, considering its near global acceptance. When that happens, expect the sport to surge in popularity.

“If you enjoy cruising around on a Seadoo, but want something more challenging and peaceful, eFoiling is a great solution!” concluded Berezny.

Yendt wrapped up in a hurry as he had a set of tasty waves to chase down. “This 100% is going to grow exponentially over the next 10 years. The word is spreading. It just makes sense; the ease of getting it in and out of water, the ability to ride in any conditions for six-plus months every single day… I could go on and on, but I’m going to hit the water soon so I gotta fly. Theodore Too (the tugboat TV star) is arriving in Gananoque today, I’m going to try to meet up on the water and ride its wake.”

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