Riding waves with a human-powered hydrofoil

April 3, 2014 | Surfing
Pumpabike and AquaSkipper: who said you need surfboards to ride waves?

Can you imagine riding waves with a human-powered hydrofoil? The invention has 60 years, but this small hydrofoil watercraft has hardly seen the light of day, in the mass market.

It might sound strange, but flapping wing propulsion watercrafts are the fastest water-based vehicles propelled solely by human power. They can reach speeds of up to 34 kilometers per hour (21 miles per hour).

The Wasserläufer was a forerunner of the design developed in Germany during the 1950s. The secret lies in a light submerged body that provides buoyancy with a reduced drag force.

They look like surf robots and generate propulsion by forcing a foil to move up and down in the water. The forward motion of the foil generates lift as in other hydrofoils.

You can launch the human-powered hydrofoil, made from aluminum and plastic, from the shore. The only downside is that if you're moving too slowly, it will sink.

Several models have been developed over the decades. "FlyingFish" (1984), "Pogofoil" (1989), "Trampofoil" (1998), "AquaSkipper" (2003) and "Pumpabike" (2004) are the most relevant products launched in the watersports market.

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