E-Foiling: How this year’s biggest outdoor activity found its way to Strangford Lough

If you’ve been on social media at any time in the past year, you’ve no doubt come across this video of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg slide on a surfboard a few meters above the water.

The activity, known as “E Foiling,” is set to become the next big thing in the world of outdoor water experience.

E-Foiling uses an electric surfboard that flies about 80cm above the surface of the water. He is on a hydrofoil wing, which propels him through the water at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

Strangford Lough Activity Center, based in Killinchy, has become the first place in Ireland to offer E-Foiling to outdoor enthusiasts.

The center offers 2h30 lessons, which will introduce you to E-Foiling and allow you to get into the water on one of the surfboards.

Mark Zuckerberg went viral when he shared a video of himself E Foiling

Rory Martin, owner of Strangford Lough Active Centre, explained how E-Foiling works.

“I guess the best way to describe it is that it’s like a Marty McFly hoverboard, Aladdin’s magic carpet, a Silver Surfer type activity. The board moves forward, it’s motorized, and there’s a hydrofoil in below.

“How it works is, every time you’re on the water and picking up speed, you give the hydrofoil a slight change in weight distribution, and the board pops over the foil and glides on top of the water.

“The boards travel up to 30 miles per hour, so it’s a thrill ride. And it’s noise-free, pollution-free and very environmentally friendly.”

With watersports and water activities finding more and more fans during lockdown, Rory thinks this is the year E Foiling will – literally and figuratively – take off.

“Paddle took off last year, we never saw demand like last year,” he explained.

“I think all water sports, from wild swimming to kayaking, saw such demand during lockdown and they still experience that demand now.

“That’s why I think this new thing is going to see a lot of demand for E-Foiling this year. I think once people try it and tell others about it, that demand will increase.

“There’s one thing you get when you’re on an E Foiling – it’s so quiet, fast, fun and there’s a bit of skill involved – I think it’s going to really appeal to people.”

Rory added that while E-Foiling is perhaps best known for its association with billionaires as a luxury play toy, activity centers like the Strangford Lough Activity Center are helping to make it more accessible to the public.

“We’re the first in Ireland to do it,” he said, “but it’s offered across the water and the appeal is there.

“We’re talking about something akin to the price of a night out in Belfast, and you have it on your doorstep.

“I mean to own one, I would say it’s a bit of a millionaire’s toy! But to own one, it’s very accessible now.”

Learn more about E-Foiling here.

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