Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg rides an electric surfboard with the American flag. 4th July 2021.
Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram
Mark Zuckerberg celebrated July 4th in a unique way: he held an American flag on a board about a foot above the surface while gliding on a body of water.
The Facebook CEO was hydrofoiling, a new type of water sport that’s becoming increasingly popular with outdoor enthusiasts – and those who have a lot of money on a piece of exercise equipment that costs thousands of dollars.
Though best known as the clumsy founder of the world’s largest social network and one of the richest people in the world, Zuckerberg has also grown into one of the most visible hydrofoil boats on the market, paying more attention to the emerging sport.
While surfing requires the power of a wave to get going and wakeboarding relies on a boat to pull the rider, hydrofoiling uses a wing-like structure under the surface of the water to create buoyancy. The driver uses a portable Bluetooth controller connected to an electric motor and underwater propeller, or manually creates momentum by pumping his legs up and down, as Zuckerberg does in his July 4th post.
“It’s a hydrofoil. There’s a wing under the water that I drive that pushes the board into the air,” Zuckerberg wrote in a comment on his post. “It’s great fun. There is an electrically powered version you can get, but in this video I’m riding a regular foil board and surfing a small wave.”
Electrical boards cost over $ 10,000
Surfers have toyed with the idea of using hydrofoil technology for decades, but the sport only really took off when foilboards hit the market in 2018, said Nick Leason, co-founder of Lift Foils, one of the first companies to sell them.
Prior to Foilboards, Leason and his company sold boards for kitesurfing, which uses a kite in the air to pull a rider across the water on a board. However, kitesurfing requires a great deal of skill, which limits the size of the market, Leason said. The wrap is a lot easier to take and it feels like sliding.
“It’s just that really unique feeling of soaring over the water,” said Leason, whose company is based in Puerto Rico. “You kind of feel like a pelican or a wannabe pelican.”
Puerto Rican company Lift Foils is one of the companies that sell hydrofoil boards.
Courtesy Lift Foils
There are different types of hydrofoil boards.
Surf foils include the board and foil but no motor, so the user has to create momentum with their own body, and typically cost around $ 2,000. Efoils have electric motors that allow them to reach speeds of 25 mph and typically sell for at least $ 10,000.
Although foiling requires less skill than kitesurfing, the high price tag limits its potential market to extreme water sports enthusiasts and those on a budget. For example, Canadian company MSLR Electric E-Foil notes that many of their customers are NHL hockey players.
“The boards are made from such high quality materials,” said MSLR founder and owner Carey Missler. MSLR sells two Efoil boards, the Navigator and the Player, both for $ 10,000. “It takes a while to custom build these boards, plus you have your expensive lithium-ion battery and carbon fiber components.”
For Zuckerberg, who, according to Forbes, is the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of around $ 125 billion, money is not a problem. Because of this, he owns numerous boards, including specially painted and custom-made versions of Lift Foil, Leason said.
“This is our product that he rides on in the video. He probably owns every model we have,” Leason said. “He really likes it. He loves it.”
Zuckerberg first started posting about hydrofoiling in August 2019 when he uploaded two photos of himself on a foilboard being pulled by a boat.
“To try a new sport on Kauai with one of the best, Kai Lenny,” Zuckerberg said, referring to the professional surfer.
Leason said Lenny was instrumental in the growth of hydrofoiling as a sport, pioneering the way people use the unfamiliar equipment and taking the time to teach new people about foiling. That includes Zuckerberg, Leason said.
“I think Kai, he’s like magic on a slide and sees all the things he does,” Zuckerberg said on Instagram in April. “It kind of helped me to get into the sport, just watch it go down a huge wave and then turn around, go upwind again, up the wave, flip off the wave. It’s like oh my god It’s unreal. “
In December 2019, Zuckerberg posted a video in which he was wearing a bright orange helmet. Although helmets are not the most stylish outfit, they are an important piece of equipment that experts recommend, especially for new foilers. Experts also recommend wearing impact vests.
“The boards are made of carbon fiber. It’s a very, very durable material, which means that if you hit your head on it when you’re not wearing a helmet, it can be very harmful,” said Taylor Coulthard, co-owner of MSLR.
Canadian company MSLR Electric E-Foil is one of the companies that sell hydrofoil boards.
Courtesy of MSLR Electric E-Foil
Zuckerberg was caught in Hawaii in July 2020 by paparazzi who had completely covered his face with sunscreen. The photo immediately became a viral meme.
“I was fumbling around and then I realized this paparazzi guy was chasing us. I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want him to recognize me so you know what I’m going to do? Sunscreen on my face so that he doesn’t know who I am, “Zuckerberg said with a laugh on Instagram in April.” But that backfired.
Zuckerberg later poked fun at the whole thing when he posted a cartoon version of the picture last month.
“The sun never had a chance,” wrote Zuckerberg on Facebook.
But despite his embarrassing episodes, those in the world of foiling say that Zuckerberg actually got pretty good at sports.
“It’s funny that most people think Mark Zuckerberg is a little nerd behind his computer hiding somewhere, but he’s actually a pretty good athlete, as you can see in this video,” said Leason. “He’s practiced a lot on the slide. He’s doing pretty well.”
Perhaps more importantly for those who sell foil boards, Zuckerberg also does a lot to generate attention and excitement.
“It got some interest,” said Missler. “That was an incredible recording. He tore. He did it great.”