Published: July 27, 2022 | Updated: July 28, 2022

World record holder Rob so loved the product, he invests a seven-figure sum in the company

Rob Wylie with his Fliteboard: “It’s just the most amazing product.” Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Rob Wylie remembers exactly where his future investment first flashed before him.

It was while he was relaxing on his boat in Majorca in 2019.

Just months earlier Rob had left the Dorset-based business he created from scratch in 2003 – Osprey Europe Ltd – following the completion of its multi-million pound sale to Osprey Packs Inc.

Father-of-three Rob, pictured left, said: “We were at anchor in a bay and someone came whizzing past on this flying surfboard.

“I’ve always been into surfing, and that kind of thing.

“It was literally like ‘Wow, what is that?’

“I’d never seen one before or heard about it, even on TV.

“I just thought to myself: ‘I don’t care how much they cost. I’ve got to have one’.”

In fact, the ‘flying surfboard’ was a Fliteboard, essentially an electric surfboard which lets riders fly over water without wind or waves.

They’re capable of speeds of around 20 miles per hour and powered by battery.

Designed and assembled in Byron Bay, Australia, the eFoils are produced by Flite, founded by David Trewern, a former kite-surfing world record holder and serial entrepreneur.

Rob’s Fliteboard arrived in October 2019, four months after being ordered online.

It didn’t disappoint.

Rob, 52, said: “We were full on into autumn and winter but that didn’t deter me.

“I put it together and took it out onto the sea, just off Branksome Beach.

“I was thinking ‘please, I hope I love this’ because I’d waited so long for it.

“As soon as I started riding on it I started laughing because I loved it so much.

“I do a lot of snowboarding and it’s like that magical moment of weightlessness when you’re turning but with Fliteboard it’s never ending.

“It combines my love of snowboarding with my love of the sea.

“You also have a huge sense of independence and freedom.

“You can go wherever you like. It could be to Old Harry and back or right to Swanage.”

Such was Rob’s enthusiasm for the product that he bought a second Fliteboard.

He also came on board as a backer with an initial seven-figure investment in Australian Dollars which has since been increased.

Rob said: “I had an initial discussion with David [Trewern] and said how much I loved his product.

“We’re a similar age and share a love and passion for the sea.

“I said that If he was ever looking for an investment, then bear me in mind.

“It just happened to coincide with a fundraiser at the time.”

Flite now has more than 200 authorised partners worldwide selling its boards, Fliteschools across the world and offices in Australia, The Netherlands, and America.

The boards cost in the region of £12,000.

Rob, who acts in an advisory Board capacity helping with product design, marketing and as an ambassador for the company, said: “People do wince at the price of it.

“It is expensive but it’s not because people are getting rich off it, it’s just because of the engineering of the product.

“The battery is incredibly expensive – it’s cased in titanium – the board is made of carbon fibre, the wings are carbon fibre, the fuselage that houses the motor is machined out of one piece of aluminium.

“There’s so much technology that goes into it.

“It’s a like a motor racing car.”

Last August Rob and his son, Morgan, 20, made headlines after setting a new world record by crossing the English Channel on their Fliteboards.

The non-stop crossing from Cap Griz-Nez in France to Folkestone in Kent – a distance of 23 miles – took one hour and 44 minutes.

At the time Rob said: “It was 112 years ago that somebody first flew across the Channel in a plane.

“Now, 112 years later, we have flown across on a self-propelled surfboard powered by electricity.

“I’m sure it would have made Louis Blériot’s head spin to see it.

Dorset has two Fliteschools in Dorset – Easyriders, Sandbanks, and OTC Watersports, Portland – offering Fliteboard lessons.

But beware.

Rob, who is married to Giorgia and lives in Sandbanks, said: “It is so addictive.

“If you live by the sea, and have a passion for watersports, then it puts so many things together as well as adding that exploration element.

“It’s just the most amazing product.”