Electric surfboards: Learn how to master this buzzy new trend

By Ása Steinars

Photo: Ása Steinars

Everybody's gone (electric) surfin' – here's everything you need to know about getting on board with the jetboard craze

You might have seen them on Instagram already, electric jetboards cruising effortlessly through dreamy landscapes. It’s like wave surfing but without a wave, or wakeboarding without a boat. You’re in charge of where you go which means exploration mode is on and you can access nature and areas that are otherwise difficult to get to.

Electric surfboards, or jetboards as the producers often call them, have been around for a while now. But it’s really in the last year that they have picked up momentum. More and more boards are seen in the lakes and fjords of Scandinavia and by now there’s a range of different brands who compete in building the best board.

I met up with Matthias Bergman, the CEO of Radinn, a Malmö based company who were the first innovators on the scene and built the world's first electric jetboard back in 2012, to discuss with him everything we need to know about jetboards.

Photo: Ása Steinars

What was the inspiration behind building the world's first ever electric surfboard?

From the beginning, our mission has been to bring the dream of surfing to the people. For so long, surfing has been limited to location and athletic ability – some people don't have the privilege to live near an ocean, the time to learn how to wave surf, or the physical ability it takes to master the sport. With our boards, you can find adventure in your backyard, and discover the thrill of surfing in any lake, pond, or stream.

How hard are the boards to ride and do you need to be an expert surfer?

No, you certainly don’t need to be a surfer to get going, that’s the beauty of jetboards. They are much more stable than a surfboard or wakeboard and therefore easier to stand up on. You can also choose to start on your knees or sitting to get comfortable and then stand up from there. The jetboards are really for everyone.

Why have jetboards gotten so popular?

There are a couple of reasons why our jetboards have taken off, but it’s mostly because they are insanely fun. We call this 'instant happiness'. It’s a completely new way to play on and enjoy the water – no wind or waves needed. Our boards are also virtually silent and fully electric, which is a huge draw for many customers especially as these EV trends continue to grow.

What tips do you have for someone just getting started?

You want to start by finding a calm body of water to practise on, waves make it much harder, but a small lake is perfect. The jetboard is controlled by a remote control in your hand with a thumb throttle. The key is to keep steady pressure on the remote and get the board planing before you stand up. Once it’s planing, it becomes more stable and that’s when you try to stand up

How long does it take before I can stand up and cruise around like I see in your videos?

Most people that try the Radinn are up and riding by the end of their first session, if not within the first 15 minutes. People with board experience will nail it even sooner. From there, it usually takes a couple more hours to get completely comfortable and surf in that smooth and relaxed way.

What do you love the most about jetboards?

Where to begin? Radinn riding is the closest you can get to complete freedom. When you’re out there it’s just you, the water below and the sky above. My favourite part is riding with friends and playing around together. Riding becomes even more fun when you have your best friends around you – it's instant happiness. Our jetboards are pure joy, and that feeling stays with you all day.

So is it really for everyone? Naturally, there's only one way to find out. After some final tips and a good pep-talk, Bergman hands me a wetsuit and a jetboard. We are at Habo Ljung, in the south of Sweden, typically a popular spot for wind and kitesurfers, but today there’s no wind, the water is flat and it's a perfect day for jetboards. The speed is controlled by a handheld throttle and around my leg I have a magnet key for safety — if I fall off this kills the motor in the board.

Bergman has warned me that it takes a few falls before I get the hang of it, and that’s certainly true. I fall a few times, but luckily the water is warm and soft, and already after ten minutes I’m starting to get better. I manage to stand up and the feeling of complete freedom comes. The flat ocean is my playground and I can ride anywhere I want. I cruise along the shore, chasing the cars driving on the road next to me, then out to sea again.

I see now how it can quickly become addictive and my mind immediately starts to think of amazing places I can go on this board. After all, it’s really about where you go exploring. Imagine a deep fjord in Norway or even the glacier lagoon of Iceland, riding next to the icebergs...