Tucker Interviews MHL Foil's Co-Founder & Head Engineer Nick Leason

Tucker Interviews MHL's Co-Founder & Head Engineer Nick Leason

Hey Nick, Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today!

No worries.

Let's jump right into this. When did MHL start?

We started in 2010.

And when did you get on the Hydrofoil train?

How did we get on the train….

The first composite foil out there for a commercial market was the Carafino. I met Carafino in 2008 and fell in love with hydrofoiling. I started learning and working on my own gear right away. It turned into a small business. We were the first outfit in the Americas to be building composite hydrofoils. There was also a small group in France that was working on the same. Between us and the French, things started to move forward in the world of hydrofoiling.

2013 Lift Foil

© Lift Foils https://www.liftfoils.com/

That is awesome, almost 10 years now! We got our first kite hydrofoil from Lift around 2013 and it was impeccable quality and design back then. How have things changed?

Well… It wasn’t impeccable, but it certainly had a lot of hard work into it. Things have become a lot more sophisticated and clean in design. It took years of hard work and many, many prototypes to understand the different aspects of wing design. Now it comes naturally and we can fine tune a design for a particular application. We are branching out into different segments of the sport. Sailing, surfing and electric propulsion. Foil everything.

We are stoked on Surf and SUP foiling this year and proud to say we offer Lift products. What makes Lift Surf/SUP foils so special?

After experiencing the exciting achievements of Kai Lenny with surf foiling, we jumped right in and got hooked. I have made several designs this last year and are obsessed with surf foiling. At the same time, I have been working for years on our eFoil designs which are very similar in design requirements. So at the end of the day, you have a foil design with many iterations behind it. Also, we have designed it as smooth as we could make it to be constructed with the best material possible. Its top quality at a competitive price. Go out and test our carbon foil next to an aluminum one in the surf and you will feel the difference right away.

Some added benefits to the rider… We use a larger surface area with less thickness. You get the stability and the float out of the wing, but you can feel it slice through the water with little resistance. It allows you to pick up good speed when you want it. It feels great and does what you need it to do.

Lift Surf Foil

© Lift Foils https://www.liftfoils.com/

Foiling made kiteboarding in light wind fun again. What does it do for Surfing and stand up paddle boarding? How would you describe it to someone who has never experienced it before?

For the most part, the foil allows you to go out on a regular, small day and catch the rides of your life. You can connect these waves in ways that you can’t do it on a surfboard. You can catch amazing speed with little power and the feeling of floating through the wave instead of skimming on the water is unique and amazing. It makes surfing regular waves a lot of fun.

I agree. Here on the lakes we get a fair amount of long breaking gutless waves that are perfect for hydrofoiling. I am not sure many people in the kiteboarding industry realize this but you were first a custom board maker right? What advice can you give new riders about choosing a board to foil with?

We built custom boards along with our hydrofoils. We had an AKU Shaper and designed anything from short boards to 14’ carbon race SUPs. For foil surfing… the board is important and different than traditional. I recommend going shorter, wider, more volume, more rounded nose vs curved rails inward and good nose rocker to help you bounce off the water. Right now, my favorite board is a custom 5-0 x 21 that is about 45 liters. Its short and easy to foil, but with the volume it paddles like a longboard. I can catch knee high slop with ease and surf it like a powered up shortboard.

SUPs are the same. Shorter is easier to control when in the air.

You have mentioned your E-foil. Tell us about that project. Are we going to see them on the water near us soon? I guess what I mean is, are you shipping orders to people yet?

I certainly hope so. We intend to ship in December. We had hoped for a little earlier, but it's a complicated design and we chose to do one more iteration on some of the electronics. That being said, it's a great toy. I have had a 95% success rate getting everybody up and foiling within minutes. This includes no surfers. It's a huge breakthrough in the sport of foiling to take something that was difficult and make it accessible for almost everyone to try. Imagine introducing the feeling of foiling to a group of people who don’t typically do many water sports. Imagine how excited they get. Not to mention that it's a great form of transportation.

The eFoil will blow up. We had over 70M hits on our videos. I think the public is interested.

New Lift eFoil board

© Lift Foils https://www.liftfoils.com/

I know the world is watching and waiting. What is this piece of future going to cost?

Mmmm… It depends on the level of the craft and the power stored in the unit. I think we will certainly see it come down to as low as 6k, but that unit won’t have the battery life or power available of one that cost 10 - 12k. I think we will also see some desperate attempts to copy the product, but it will be a big disappointment. The harsh environments and abuse that this toy receives requires high end all the way, in every small component or it just won’t last. The price will never be in the realm of surfing or skateboards. It's a watercraft and better to compare to other watercrafts.

Check out the other powered surfboards and the price is right in line. The ones that are half the price are a disappointment to ride and own.

Wow that is amazing. As a shop that sells electric bikes and skateboards that range from $700-15k I would imagine that the price would be higher. The level of craftsmanship, innovation, and performance that is supplied with your E-foil would lead me to expect a higher price tag.

Well… Some bikes have about 400 - 600 watt hours of battery. Our board has 2,000 watt hours. Puts it into perspective.

That is awesome. How about some specifics.... Is the battery interchangeable? How do you start to ride it? Prone or standing? What is the top speed? distance?

The battery is easily interchangeable and really slick design for carting around. You start on your belly and work your way to your feet like a surfboard, but easier. The top speed is about 22 kts. Distance on the first production battery is about 15 miles range. That's a pretty tour on a hydrofoil. Great for going to visit friends on the other side of the lake or to take a tour with the girlfriend.

eFoil gliding through rivers

© Lift Foils https://www.liftfoils.com/

Holy smokes, almost 26 mph? That is as fast as a fishing boat. I'd imagine that 15 miles on foil might be a workout. Have you used it in waves?

I recommend the non motorized foils for surfing, but I have taken the eFoil out in a variety of surf. Small is best, but I have taken it out at 14’ Tres Palmas here in Puerto Rico.

How much does this setup weigh? Do you need a cart to get it to the beach?

All together it is about 60 lbs. A cart is nice or you can take the battery out and carry it in two parts.

And roughly 30 lbs of that is the battery correct? I'd imagine just popping that in a backpack would make life a lot easier.

That is correct.

We cannot wait to see these flying around town. Thanks for the update Nick. Any last minute thoughts out there for people interested in foilboarding in any discipline?

Get out there and do it! It makes life way more fun. And convince MACkite to buy an eFoil so everyone can try it.

It is on our wish list for sure. Would be a great way to teach in complement to our jet ski lessons. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today Nick. I'll let you get back to making fun toys for us to play on.

25th Jan 2018 Tucker Vantol

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