Spain’s coasts are renowned for their excellent surfing conditions, from the rugged choppy seas of the north to the windswept coast of Tarifa and the Canary Islands.
So who better than a couple of Spanish surfers to invent the world’s first jet-powered surfboard?
Ramón Silva and Íñigo Barrón had the brainwave for the Jetson surfboard back in 2012.
“They realized that surfing really hadn’t evolved very much since the early days,” Antonio Ortega, a partner in the company, told The Local.
“Their main aim was to keep the boards as similar as possible to regular surfboards, but with that added push that would help surfers get more waves.”
The surf-mad pair teamed up with one of Spain’s biggest board makers, Marcos Slash, to produce the Jetson, an “artisanal surfboard” which has become the only European motorized jet surfboard and the first to be sold worldwide.
The small battery-powered jet, attached to the back of the board, is operated by a control panel at the front, which provides three different power levels, so surfers can choose how much power they need before they tackle the next wave.
“The board also provides extra security,” Ortega explains, “when the surfer is at the limit of his or her capabilities, the jet kicks in and helps them catch the perfect wave.”
The boards were initially tested in Spain and have also been ridden by surfers around the world, from Portugal and France to Peru and El Salvador.
They sell on the Jetson website for between €2,285 ($2,600) and €2,550.
Surfer Guillermo Alonso trying out the board. Photo: Jetson
But those hoping that the Jetson will take all the hard work out of surfing will be in for a disappointment, the board’s makers still advise surfers to paddle in the traditional way.
“We insist on the idea that our customers need to keep paddling and enjoying surfing as a sport,” stresses Ortega.
Founding a startup is never plain sailing, but to launch your new business in the middle of a crippling economic crisis was always going to be tough.
“Spain is still not in a great place,” Ortega says, “…we knew that when we started and it proved difficult to secure funding but thanks to the quality and the innovation of the product we managed it.”
While technology has crept into most areas of our everyday lives, surfing is one sport that has remained resolutely low-tech, often still resembling the early days of professional contests in the 1970s, a fact which could have an impact on the success of the Jetson.
“At the beginning we did experience some resilience but the feeling among purists is slowly changing,” says Ortega.
“Their initial hesitation came more from a misunderstanding of what the product was. Our aim is for more people to enjoy the sport but to keep the purity and the spirit of surfing intact.”