Who hasn’t dreamt of mastering waves on a surfboard, in front of an astound audience? As cool as it may sound, such prowess had so far been the privilege of highly trained professionals and deeply committed enthusiasts. With a view to bridge this gap, the EUREKA-funded SURFJET project set out to design, produce and commercialise a custom-made surfboard powered by a 100cc engine.
With this new ‘power board', you can easily ride any wave or with no wave at all. And that promise seems to win over people’s hearts: over 600 surfboards have been sold over the last three years, forcing the company to think bigger. “JetSurf has become our top selling product and we are trying to increase production to meet the growing demand. This also means that we need more people involved in production,” explains Martin Sula, founder of Jetsurf and CEO of project leading company MSR Engines, Czech Republic. In 2013 only, the company hired 50 new employees.
The key to this success is not so much the idea itself – other self-propelled surfboards are already available on the market – but its execution. Jetsurf’s power boards are lighter, faster and more environment-friendly than any alternative. They weigh only 14kg and can reach the impressive speed of 63 km/h.
A SURFBOARD FOR ALL
The project began when Mr Sula realised surfing was as appealing as it was difficult to master. “Being a fan of winter sports and motorsports I was looking for something to do during my vacations. I tried regular surfing and found it a very difficult sport. This made me think: ‘why not try to put an engine on this thing?’ It started off as a hobby, but after some research and development we found that maybe it could be successful on the market as well.”
"Our priority is to offer the amazing feeling of surfing to the global public.”
To ensure success, MSR Engines’ expertise – the company counts the likes of BMW, Skoda and KTM among its clients and Mr Sula notably designed Audi’s turbo engine for a previous edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans – had to be combined with first class know-how in hydromechanics, composite materials and electrical engineering. This is when EUREKA came in. “Thanks to EUREKA we were able to start cooperating with different companies around the EU. We benefited from Sterk’s experience in carbon fibre components and could use Hitech Racing’s equipment for testing our electric parts,” Sula notes, referring to MSR Engines' German and British partners.
Jetsurf now sells three different kinds of power boards, each with a different customer in mind. Even professional surfers are jumping in, with competitions being organised twice a year. “We have a few professional surfers in our team already and they really love Jetsurf. But our priority is to offer the amazing feeling of surfing to the global public,” Sula explains.
Another aspect that sets Jetsurf apart is the meticulousness of the production process. All power boards are hand-made, and the synergies created under the EUREKA project allow the company to remain a step ahead. “Our big advantage against potential competitors is that we have both production and development under one roof. 95% of board parts are produced by our company,” explains Martin Sula. This specificity, along with a continued working relationship with project partners, holds the promise of a bright future for Jetsurf.