Surfing without real waves? Technology’s expanding role in water sports is redefining the surfing experience. From virtual surf sessions to motorized surfboards, surfing is catching the wave of innovation sweeping recreational water sports.
Seattle-based Freefly Systems recently debuted its vision for “dronesurfing,” capturing the imagination of techies and aspiring surfers around the internet. And two additional surf technologies will be on display at the Boats Afloat Show, Sept. 14 -18 in Seattle’s South Lake Union.
For wake surfers, Malibu Boat’s Surf Band is available through local dealer Seattle Boat Co. Essentially a “surf watch,” the Surf Band is a remote worn around the wrist that allows a wake surfer, or wake boarder, to control the size, length, shape and speed of the wave generated by the wake of a boat.
Featuring three control buttons, the Surf Band communicates with a futuristic command center on board the boat, alerting the driver of any changes.
Introduced in 2015, the Surf Band is now available on all 2016 and 2017 Malibu Boat models with Integrated Surf Platforms, Malibu Boat’s wake surf technology that uses ballast and water displacement to create more surf-like waves than traditional ski boats.
James Baker, Vice President of Seattle Boat Co., says that “the use of GPS systems incorporated with speed control, help ‘dial in’ the perfect speed for the perfect wake.” Using remotes such as the Surf Band, mobile apps, and Bluetooth technology, surfers can customize their waves with increased technology integration.
The JetSurf, a motorized surfboard, will also be on display with demos throughout the Boats Afloat Show. Described as a “cross between a surf board and a jet-ski” the JetSurf is used recreationally and competitively in the emerging sport of MotoSurf. The JetSurf can carve across a calm lake or coast down waves, adapting to a variety of conditions.
Outfitted with an internal combustion engine and made of carbon fiber, the JetSurf can reach speeds up to 35 mph. To ride, surfers place their feet in the mounted straps and control the board with a hand throttle leashed to the board. All turns and maneuvers are controlled by the surfer’s body, retaining the active aspect of surfing.
Motorized surfboards have existed since the 1970’s, but widespread recreational and competitive use is now more feasible with improved technology. New lightweight materials along with smaller and more powerful engines have impacted many water sports, including motorized surfing.
“Today, you can go faster, longer, lighter, more user-friendly, less maintenance, and more reliable,” says Eran Druker, U.S. distributor for JetSurf. “It has allowed us to test the limits and try to use the water in new ways.”
The JetSurf board weighs 28 pounds. The company notes the ease of transporting the JetSurf board, including its unique classification as “the only motorized watercraft that can be carried as luggage on a commercial or international flight.” JetSurf models range from $9,900 – $12,400 and are available for order online.
Visiting Seattle for the first time to debut the JetSurf, Druker says, “Seattle is a perfect place with all the water for this sport and the lack of logistics. It’s almost a must in Seattle.”