Local eFoiler Dave Shipp offers a glimpse into the rare, up-and-coming water sport.
By Ashley Ryan
There’s a new luxury water sport gaining popularity across Southern California—though you may not have heard of it yet: eFoiling has already been around for a few years, but it has flown somewhat under the radar.
A blend of other action sports, including surfing and wakeboarding, eFoiling allows users to feel as if they are flying over the water with nothing but an electric board and a hand-held Bluetooth controller. Able to reach speeds of up to 30 mph, the sport provides plenty of adrenaline to fuel you, and can be done on a lake, in a bay, in a harbor or out on the open ocean.
Dave Shipp, a longtime Laguna Beach resident and business owner, started eFoiling about a year and a half ago, after being introduced to the sport by his friend, Michael. Now, Shipp eFoils with his son, Wyatt, as well.
An avid surfer in the area for more than 40 years, Shipp says the sport has been especially appealing because of his bad shoulder. “It is really difficult for me to paddle nowadays, so my surfing has been very limited for a few years,” he explains. “With the [e]Foil, I can get back in the waves again and enjoy.”
He works as a builder for D. Shipp Corp., a company based in north Laguna that he started in 1993. Shipp and his colleagues create custom homes in town as well as homeless shelters in Los Angeles. “I work hard and eFoiling is awesome to do after a long day of work,” he notes.
While Shipp and his son just take to the waves for fun, they are planning to complete their first crossing between Catalina Island and the mainland in the coming weeks. “We’ll have to have a support boat and extra batteries along,” he says. “[We] need to wait for just the right conditions—sunny, moderate swell, light wind.”
In the meantime, Shipp shares some insight into this new sport and tips for trying the activity.
Laguna Beach Magazine: What exactly is eFoiling?
Dave Shipp: An eFoil is an electric-powered board equipped with a mast and wing. The board lifts up from the water after achieving a certain speed, making the effect of levitating [over the water]. Unlike traditional foil boards, eFoils do not need the power of [the] waves to rise above the water since [they are] being powered by a battery and propeller.
What makes the sport so appealing?
DS: It is a similar feeling to surfing a great wave or riding a snowboard on a nice powder slope—exhilarating. We can do it on most days, with or without a swell. … We have incredible interaction with the sea life: dolphins, whales, flying fish, sea turtles, et cetera.
What benefits does it offer the rider?
DS: Getting outside, getting in the ocean—it’s play and [a] workout at the same time. Also, [eFoiling is] good for balance, leg and core strength.
What are some tips for those wanting to try eFoiling for the first time?
DS: I would recommend flat water on lakes or Mission Bay in San Diego. When learning, people will find it easier than surfing to stand up, but much harder to fly the board, and it is definitely harder than surfing when riding waves.
What are some of your go-to spots in or around Laguna Beach?
DS: San Onofre, Dana Point and Laguna Beach—we prefer some of the better surf breaks toward the middle part of Laguna, but we stay outside of all surfers and swimmers in these areas. We’ve eFoiled at the Colorado River and that was fun. They are becoming more popular on lakes as well.
What is the most challenging thing about the sport?
DS: Riding waves is definitely the most difficult [thing]—especially big waves. It can also be hard when the wind is stronger than 7 knots. Also, kelp and seagrass [are] … a constant challenge. [They] pretty much stop you instantly.
Do you have any safety tips for those looking to eFoil?
DS: Always be extremely aware of your surroundings. Stay away from swimmers, surfers, SUPs, et cetera. Be aware of marine life and keep a very respectful distance.
Breeze through your next eFoil session—whether it’s your first or your 50th—with these pivotal pieces.
Snag a board then grab these other essentials, all of which can be found nearby.