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Foil More

Meet Hamish Leighton, the CEO and founder of Stoke.

Estimated reading time 4 minutes

We sat down with Hamish to find out how a former IT and cyber security expert came to invent one of the hottest new products on the water sports market. As you’ll find out, it was an invention born out of pure frustration and a desire to follow his passion more often.

Why did you start Stoke?

The idea for propulsion boost was simply born out of personal frustration. 

I was out on the water trying to wing foil on a day of light winds and there were some younger people around me who were pumping hard enough to get out of the water, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t get enough speed, no matter what I tried.

It came to me that what I needed was a propulsion boost. Something that would give me a boost of power to get out of the water when there wasn’t much wind or waves.

I went home and started making some prototypes from 3D printed parts. But I soon discovered that what was a simple idea in theory was very difficult to build in practice. But I stuck at it. With plenty of encouragement from fellow foilers who were looking for the same thing, the Stoke Foil Boost eventually was the result.

Why did you start Stoke?

What’s your background in foiling?

I’ve been into water sports since I was eight-years-old. First it was sailing, then windsurfing and kite surfing, and that eventually led to kite foiling.

I raced in kite foiling both nationally and internationally and then discovered wing foiling and SUP foiling. I enjoy it so much that it’s my entire water sport focus these days. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of foiling.

What’s your background in foiling?

Why did you decide on a foil assist as Stoke’s first product?

Foil boost really came about from the genesis of the idea, which was me not being able to get my board out of the water on a light wind day. While I knew propulsion was the answer, I also knew I only just needed a short boost. I didn’t need a propulsion system that was on all the time.

I wanted a product that didn’t have the drag and the weight of an efoil. That’s where the idea of Foil Boost was born.”

Why did you decide on a foil assist as Stoke’s first product?

Stoke Foil Boost is sleek, durable and beautifully designed. Why is that?

Partly it’s my background in kite foiling and all the races I competed in. My racing drilled into me the importance of hydrodynamics if I wanted to compete with the best. The Stoke Foil Boost is sleek because it needs to be sleek, to glide smoothly through the water and reduce drag. 

The quality, durability and look of Stoke Foil Boost is also influenced by my background in IT software testing, where the focus on quality was paramount. I’ve brought that quality focus with me to Stoke.

I was also determined to produce a product that didn’t look like or feel like it was homemade. While Stoke Foil Boost needs to be tough and durable to withstand the conditions, I also wanted it to be a beautiful, precision product.”

What’s been the reaction from users so far?

In a word, immensely positive. I’ve been blown away from how many phone calls and emails I’ve received from people to tell me that Stoke Foil Boost is a game changer and what they’ve been waiting for.

I’ve also received communication from customers who are using the product in ways I never imagined. For example, a group of people who are using Stoke Foil Boost to get their foils out prone foiling into bigger waves, instead of using their jet skis.

We’ve also received ideas and thoughts from people on how to improve the product. We’re always listening to people, as well as doing our own research and development, to seek ways to improve future iterations of Stoke Foil Boost.

A good example of this is that we’ve increased the motor power and updated the electronics so that the Foil Boost can also be used for riders wanting to use it like an eFoil.

Are there plans for more Stoke products?

Yes, we do have plans for more products, as well as add-ons for Stoke Foil Boost. We’re constantly doing R&D and listening to what people want. I’ve certainly also got many more ideas I want to develop.

An example that we’re expecting to release very soon is a battery that will be of a capacity which is small enough to go on airplanes, to allow people to travel with their Stoke Foil Boost.

Are there plans for more Stoke products?

What do you think will be the next evolution in foiling or the next exciting thing?

It’s amazing to see how quickly things are evolving in foiling and the new disciplines that are emerging and rapidly growing. 

I think we are going to see the continued growth of downwind foiling or downwinding – where people use are catching ocean swells for incredible distances. I’m also seeing many people trying flat water foil pumping, including those who thought they would never attempt it.

For us at Stoke, it’s exciting to be able to meet the needs of these next popular foiling activities. We’re a dynamic company and we’re perfectly positioned to be able to evolve to help people, no matter what they want to do on a foil.

At Stoke, our aim is to get people foiling more. We’ll constantly improve and evolve our existing products and add new product ranges to make this happen.

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