WaveJet - a motorized surfboard for big waves


April 5, 2012

WaveJet provides the propulsion power you need to catch large waves on your own

WaveJet provides the propulsion power you need to catch large waves on your own

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In order to surf those massive walls of salt water known as big waves, brave surfers usually need to get towed in by a personal watercraft (PWC). This presents some logistical problems (i.e. having to bring a buddy along to tow you around all day). The WaveJet gives you the power you need without requiring a large tow-in vehicle or separate person.

The WaveJet is a personal water propulsion (PWP) device that adds a little motor power to paddling. Unlike the JetBoard, which harnessed motor power in the ride itself, the WaveJet has the more modest objective of getting you to the ride. It lets you paddle up to four times faster, giving you the speed and power you need to catch a big wave without a buddy riding shotgun.

The WaveJet itself is a pod that's designed to fit quickly into WaveJet-ready boards of all kinds - surfboards, paddleboards, boogie boards and rescue boards. It fits flatly against the bottom of the board, so it doesn't interfere with your ride and uses two aluminum impellers to give you up to 20 lbs (9 kg) of thrust and 12 mph (19.3 km/h) of speed.

The surfer controls the output by way of a wireless remote control worn on the wrist. The wireless system keeps the surfer's hands free and doesn't tie him to the board. The wristband also monitors battery level and cuts propulsion off if the surfboard gets more than a leash length away from surfer. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery gives you 30 to 45 minutes of run time, and since you're not actively using it the entire time, that translates to much more actual time on the water.

WaveJet inventor Mike Railey enjoyed tow-in surfing when he first tried it back in the late 90s, but didn't like the hassle of having to rent out a tow-in vehicle. The existing motorized boards were too heavy for his liking, so he got to tinkering on the compact, lightweight add-on that became known as the WaveJet. After receiving several patents for the model, Railey introduced WaveJet last year. Surfers, professional lifeguards and other industry professionals have been testing it, and the first commercial run will hit the market next month. The WaveJet will be offered in surfboard, boogie board and stand-up paddle board varieties this year, with kayak and other models to follow next year.

Big wave surfer and WaveJet ambassador Garrett McNamara was using a traditional tow-in system when he set the world record for biggest wave (90 feet/ 27.4 m) ever surfed last November, but he did use the WaveJet to catch a 50-footer (15.24 m) on the same trip to Portugal.

While WaveJet was inspired by big waves, the system is also useful beyond surfing. When used in rescue boards, it allows lifeguards to get to victims more quickly while conserving energy. Serving as a lightweight motor on a kayak or boat, the WaveJet's flat design means it doesn't need any clearance and can be used in shallow water. It can also help boaters to battle strong currents.

WaveJet deliveries will begin in mid May. The WaveJet pod retails for US$2,500 on its own, for use with WaveJet-ready or retrofitted boards. Recreational board packages start at $4,395, and rescue board packages at $4,150. Pre-orders involving a $500 deposit are open now.

The video below shows what the WaveJet is all about.

Source: WaveJet

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

This is awesome. I gave up surfing after i decided a brilliant idea would be to go looking for big breakers in durban, after a storm, on my own (the fact that no one was around should have been a clue) i got the swell i was looking for and as i paddled in, it pulled back so much i could see the sand getting sucked dry at the foot. So me are braveness and did it anyway, nose hit the sand, board smacked my head, woke up alone three hours later on the beach with my board in half. I could have used this machine to get out of there but i know i still would have tried to ride. Me would like an ultra short board with a leash free system (so it will try and make a uturn and head back to me) with lots of power and lifespan, then i can surf up n through a curler and surf flat water.


This must be really slow to accelerate and maybe it goes 12 mph on a glassy lake or else they would show a video of it actually catching a wave. And Gizmag did you think to ask what it weighs?

The Hoff

I would want to be tied to the board so I don't loose it. One of the reasons that the gas powered surfboard from 1959 was discontinued was that it did not lanyard or a dead man switch so when you fell off in motored away leaving you stranded. Also it was made out of aluminum so saltwater rapidly turned it to swiss cheese.


A jet-powered surfboard featured briefly in Arthur C Clarke's 1957 novel, The Deep Range.

Fifty-five years later, here we are!


I'm usually cynical about these sorts of things, but this one looks as though it rocks! @Hoff, did you watch the video? It looks as though it works a treat. @Slowburn, the big wave boards usually have mountings like water skis, but I agree it was unfortunate that they didn't show a style of board with a leash. @G, bad luck - I've been out of the gym for 2 months after bodysurfing fist-first into the bottom... :-)

Marcus Carr

well this looks great - the product at least, the video could use some upgrading to look more professional (the title or splash screen (ha ha) was good, but the rest could be seriously upgraded)

James Davis
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