Marc Newson collaborates with Flite to create “world’s lightest” electric hydrofoil

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Industrial designer and surfing enthusiast Marc Newson has collaborated with Australian watersports company Flite to create a carbon-fibre monobloc electric hydrofoil. Newson, a lifelong surfer and Australian native, designed Flite’s latest “eFoil” as a single monobloc structure in two sizes known as the MN Series. The eFoil was unveiled at Mayfair’s Gagosian Gallery during the London Design Festival.

Flite, based in Byron Bay, has been developing motorised hydrofoils since 2016. Hydrofoils are objects used underwater that are shaped by wide vanes, causing the object to lift out of the water swiftly and smoothly. Flite’s hydrofoils, called Fliteboards, are battery-powered and function as electric surfboard-style vehicles.

The black-hued hydrofoil designed by Newson features a curved board with a combined fuselage and mast, a first for eFoils according to Flite. Weighing under 20 kilograms, the design is the lightest eFoil on the market, claims Flite.

Newson constructed the structure using Japanese high-modulus pre-peg carbon fibre, a commonly used material in aerospace design. “We identified reducing the mass of the eFoil system as an overall goal and achieved this using very high-quality carbon fibre, so as to streamline both manufacturing and the appearance of the board,” Newson said. He explained that the material is not only lightweight but also strong, allowing the foil and board to be moulded in single pieces.

The eFoil also features titanium accents on the front wing and board due to their anti-corrosive, lightweight, and durable properties. Flite designed two different-sized eFoils to cater to experienced and novice riders of various body weights. Both models are narrower than existing hydrofoils, the company claims.

Additional features on the board include integrated flush-mounted silicone handles, single handles for battery removal, and deck grip patterning. Newson also updated the Flite Controller, a handheld device that accompanies all of Flite’s hydrofoils, with a circular colour screen and an improved interface that provides riders with performance feedback and live wave data.

Newson expressed his excitement about working with Flite, stating, “A Fliteboard is a high-performance device that combines a number of incredible technologies… The opportunity to work in this space and to use specialty materials and processes in a meaningful way… was very compelling.”

The London Design Festival served as a platform for various product launches, including a bag made from bacterial leather by fashion brand Ganni and undulating modular furniture by Zaha Hadid Design. The festival took place from September 16 to 24, 2023, showcasing a range of exhibitions, installations, and talks.

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