An NDA at the time meant that we had to keep particularly quiet about Flite’s recently released FLITELab* department, with just a couple of us in the team here filled on what it meant for the brand and what they were set to release (we love an NDA by the way). Now the news is firmly out there, we wanted to get in touch with the team at FLITELab* to better explain what those key reveals mean.

Hey Chris. For those yet to jump on YouTube to have a look, could you please explain to us the concept of the AMP Jet, and then a little about how it works? 

Yes AMP is an ecosystem that we’ve been developing for a long time. 

I set out to make a board that felt as close as possible to non-powered prone and windboards to ride. I didn’t want to spend any additional time on the beach converting my prone or wing board from non-powered to powered and back again. So I developed an easily insertable cartridge that houses everything. I focused on positioning the cartridge weight so it’s over the center of lift from the front wing, minimizing any change in swing weight whether the cartridge is in or out.

Once you are in the water there are a few modes to choose from. Paddle Assist helps you paddle around. On a 4’2 prone it lets me keep up with my wife who paddles a 9’1 mal with ease, finally! Once you’re out the back you can catch almost anything. You have the Boost Button that is instant. Just press the button and start paddling for the wave, it sorts out the rest, from how fast it accelerates to how much boost you need to get up to speed. Then once you get up on foil it turns itself off. 

We are working on Auto Launch which is coming along a treat. Once activated and it knows you are paddling for a wave, it then turns on the boost automatically. We are really working on making this feel just like your everyday prone or wing session, and we take care of the rest, helping you catch anything you paddle for and not having to think about the system.

Once you’re up on foil we have the most advanced tracking system for all your metrics. I should keep a few things up our sleeve, but it’s going to be a real game changer.

Exciting times at Flite HQ then. How long has this concept been in the R&D phase?

The idea originally came to me in my early days of foiling in late 2019. One of the breaks I used to foil worked only on low tide, as soon as the tide started to fill in it just got too fat to paddle and everyone left. It still had such a great nonbreaking wave but no way of catching it. I then thought of ways to solve this by powering the board somehow. Out of all those ideas, I went for the jet in the board knowing that I would develop the other ideas down the track. It just had so many advantages and I felt having the power in the board would be the cleanest solution with no drag and no one would even know it was there. After almost a year of developing proto jets I had a working proto in a board by the end of 2020. It was definitely better than I had ever expected, and all my friends who tried it were begging me to make them one. 

After researching ways to bring this to market I went to talk to a friend that I used to kitesurf with 20 years ago, David Trewern, who founded Fliteboard. I had admired what he had done with Fliteboard, they were definitely ahead of the curve in innovation in the eFoil industry. After catching up with David to see what I was really in for, he loved the concept and suggested doing it with Fliteboard. The thought of having access to some of the best engineers in the world was a hard one to hold the froth level down. It was also still cold back home in Jan Juc so the idea of moving somewhere warm helped.  So I joined Flite in Byron Bay.

Talk to us about some riders who have been out there testing it. Have they had any practical feedback?

I relied heavily on my close foiling friends back home in Jan Juc for any mad ideas I came up with (Chad, Luke and Chris). They all froth as hard as I do and lost their mind riding the original proto. Most of their feedback was based on when they could get one though. 

Before I joined Flite I caught up with Adam Bennetts who wanted to try it. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t super nervous knowing the level he rides at. We had a few of the senior staff and David from Flite all on the beach as I watched Adam paddle out to a non-breaking one-foot wave. Now like any new product it can take a little while to get the timing right and to get used to the thrust. Of course Adam being Adam got up on the first lump he saw then went on to rip the living crap out of the wave, pulled off, pumped back out and proceeded to catch another eight waves. Then took off on a dozen more barely visible lumps. When he came back in he could not shut up about it. He was all over it. Asking all the right questions that I had been lying in bed for the past two years thinking about and had the answers to: “This is going to be insane for getting onto waves that are too big to paddle. How good would this be for downwinding! How much wind do you think I would need to get up on a wind wing? I could travel with one board and do it all!” Yep, this is everything I had been dreaming of. Since then it’s been amazing working closely with Adam on refining the board shapes and finessing the software.

What kind of battery life are we looking at? Can you enjoy a really solid session out there on it?

We have built the batteries as a modular system. There has been so much development on this to create a system that is powerful enough with great ride times and safety that you can also carry on an airline. So we developed a 58v (142wh) battery that has the most advanced BMS allowing us to daisy chain batteries together for awesome ride times.

On the AMP Jet you can choose to ride with one or two batteries. Two gives you double the ride time and also more thrust. With two you get up to 60 boost depending on how long you boost for and also how much you use the Paddle Assist. For example, I ride a 4’2 @ 27L and with two batteries using both the boost and Paddle Assist I get around two to three hours. I also crash a lot! 

On the Amp Mast you can ride with two to four batteries. Four batteries are going to give you just over 550wh. Ride time will really come down to many factors such as rider weight, foil size and condition, but if you are efficient and use it to hybrid eFoil out all the time I can see ride times of up to an hour. As you have been up on foil the whole time it ends up feeling like a longer session. Also, if you choose, it’s a quick trip back to the beach to load more batteries and go again.

Do you think this might in any way make a dent in the current market for eFoils?

I really see this as a separate market. Most of our eFoil customers ride in flat water. But for the few that ride in waves some are going to prefer the feel of an eFoil and some are going to prefer the feel of one of the AMP products. I ride both and definitely love both for different reasons. If I am riding at many of the breaks I prone at I usually ride the AMP Jet. But if I was to ride down in Ballina River, I am really enjoying the ULTRA L2 with the Carbon Mast 40mm motor and a Folding Prop. It’s as good as it gets in waves on an eFoil and we have really cut down the feeling of any drag.

What does the entire system weigh?

We don’t have final weights yet as we are finalizing a few things on the production model to make sure it’s going to be super reliable. For the AMP Jet we are aiming for the board with cartridge to be around 6-7kg without mast and foil so depending on the brand of foil it will be around 9-11kg all up.

For the Amp Mast depending on how many batteries you install and what brand foil you mount to the bottom of the mast, we are estimating 8-12kg but there is still more work to come on this.

Finally, tell us a little more about this new, highly secretive department at Flite, the FLITELab*… It’s very intriguing. 

Ha! Between myself who froths a little too hard on every nut, bolt, board, wing, bag and accessory, and our awesome team riders, we all come up with every crazy idea we can think of and ask the impossible. Like asking for over 25kg of thrust out of a jet that will fit into a three-inch thick prone board that weighs as little as possible. I was told it’s probably not possible but the insane engineers we have been given access to have so far pulled off everything we have asked for whilst keeping it super safe and reliable. It blows my mind everyday what they achieve. And they are all starting to get used to the froth levels from the FLITELab* team! I feel I am building my first car but got given an F1 team to achieve it. So watch this space… 

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