New efoil business brings the sensation of surfboard levitation to the waters of Siesta Key
By John Morton
While on a charter boat in the Caribbean, Dustin Johnson was startled when a woman seemingly floated by, seemingly in the air, on what looked a surfboard.
“She simply said good morning in a calm, quiet voice and just kept on going, as if she was passing someone in a grocery line,” Johnson said. “I didn’t even hear her coming. Whatever it was that that she was on, it was that quiet.
“I remember thinking it looked like the hoverboard in Back to the Future II, or like a magic carpet ride. At first, I thought I must be dreaming. She was levitating? Then when I realized I wasn’t, I decided then that I needed to find out more about this. It looked like the most fun thing to do in the world.”
What he witnessed was a motorized efoil. It’s a propeller-driven electronic surfboard that allows you to skim across the water as high as 2 feet at speeds up to 30 mph.
So impressed with this new technology, which is now about three years old, the former Tennessee resident chose to go into the efoil business.
“I studied the technology for a year and then quit the day job,” said Johnson, who debuted his business in March. “I knew this was going to be big.”
And he chose Siesta Key as his primary locale.
“It’s the perfect spot for this, with the beautiful beach and calm waters,” said Johnson, whose mobile Sarasota Efoil business typically delivers the apparatus to customers at Beach Access 4 near the Village, located at 180 Beach Rd. where Beach Road intersects with Avenida Navarra.
Sessions last 90 minutes.
Upon arrival, Johnson or business partner Seth Hajek gives a five-minute demonstration. Riders first learn about how to get up from their belly to their knees to their feet, and then about the Bluetooth hand-throttle control and its 15 different settings. It includes a power-saving mode that allows for that quiet glide that is so peaceful.
“It’s one of the easiest things to learn,” Johnson said. “We have riders that are in their 70s.”
The efoil runs on a lithium-ion battery that is good for two hours. The board is 5 to 6 feet in length and can hold up to 300 pounds and is designed for just a single person. Below it is a mast and foil wing and a guarded propeller.
Riders must be at least 12 years of age and must stay away from swimmers. Johnson recommends that riders go out about 250 feet from shore.
The cost for a session is $300 for one board and one person, $400 for one board and two people (alternating), $550 for two boards and two people, and $650 for two boards and three to four people.
Visit sarasotaefoil.com or call (941) 799-5722 to book a session.
Johnson and Hajek also sell efoils, manufactured by Lift Foils.