What's an eFoil and Is It Worth the Cost?
The world is full of things I will never know. And thanks to social media, I am often bombarded with the knowledge of all those things I will never know—things like faraway exotic places, fancy meals at Michelin-starred restaurants and high-tech gadgets worth more than my annual salary.
One of the things I was certain I’d never get to experience was the eFoil. It’s like a surfboard, but you hover a foot above the water and it’s got a battery-powered propeller. So when I was invited to test drive one by a new business called Zeus—which stands for Zoom Electric Ultimate Sports—I couldn’t say no.
Matt Quattro, the owner of Zeus, told me to meet him at Overlook Park on Longboat Key, where his company would let a handful of people test out his eFoils. Quattro is originally from Jersey where, he told me, he made his money in investing, real estate, oil and construction companies, but moved here permanently during the pandemic. His company rents and sells electronic motorized vehicles that work on land and sea. He looks like the singer from Right Said Fred with massive biceps. He was excited to have me test-drive the eFoils.
Quattro was inspired to bring eFoils to the people after he and his daughter watched Aladdin. “My daughter wanted to get a flying carpet,” Quattro says. “And I said, 'Yes, I’ll go to space and bring you one back.' Then she said, 'Can we go tomorrow?,' and I said, 'Maybe in 10 or 20 years, when Elon Musk invents one.'”
Then he learned about the eFoil. “It was like Aladdin was actually flying over the water!" he says. "So that’s when everything started.”
Much like the Segway, hoverboards and all things lithium-powered, eFoiling is associated with Silicon Valley culture. The first time I saw an eFoil was in a now infamous photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, his face coated in sunscreen that made him look like a ghost, awkwardly standing on the electrified board. It makes sense it would be popular with that crowd. Efoiling has a whole “disrupting surfing” thing going on. It gives access to the action of surfing without actually having to catch a wave. Surfing is difficult and takes years to master. You are wholly dependent on swells from storms out in the middle of the ocean, and you have to learn the water to catch a wave. With the eFoil, I was assured I’d be able to stand up in a short while.
I was given a handful of instructions before I took the board out. You start on your stomach like the eFoil is a boogie board. In one hand you’ve got the remote control throttle. You hold the trigger and the board takes off. From there, you hike yourself onto your knees, then to your feet.
This is where I would eat it. I have surfed and skateboarded, and knowing those sports initially worked against me. The thing about the eFoil is that it holds about a foot above the water. Instead of the familiar east-west balance of surfing, this was all north-south. It took some getting used to it.
After about 15 minutes of wiping out, I felt like I got the hang of it. Quattro was in the water with me, giving me the thumbs up. I’m glad I can say I got to eFoil. But I don’t think I’ll be doing it again. It’s for dads who love gadgets and have the money to play with an expensive toy.
I would, however, love to have my very own Seabob, which Quattro also had on hand. Like the eFoil, it's electronic, but it drags you underwater like you’re holding on to a friendly dolphin. Using it, I experienced the water like never before. Being pulled through and under the sea at up to 13 mph was incredibly fun, and it would be a fantastic way to experience reef diving.
Prices for eFoils range from $11,995-$12,995, or you can rent a board through Zeus for $300 an hour. Seabobs cost between $9,980 and $17,780 to own and $250 an hour to rent through Zeus.
For his part, Quattro seemed happiest when everyone else had a good time. “Yeah, it's not about the money,” he told me. “I wanted to give back to the community and show kids in Sarasota that there are things to do that don’t get you in trouble.”