Surfboard With Jet-Powered Engine Takes Surfing Almost Anywhere

Engine can propel riders to speeds close to 45 mph.

ByABC News
October 22, 2013, 6:25 PM

Oct. 22, 2013— -- Surfers looking for an even more thrilling way to hang-ten are taking on the waves with new technology: A surfboard with a jet-powered engine.

The PowerSki JetBoard looks like a regular surfboard, only thicker and with a large handle near its nose. Its 300cc water-cooled engine located inside the board's body is able to propel riders through the foam at speeds up to 45 miles per hour, making the air bigger and the wipe-outs all the more epic.

Bob Montgomery, a classic gnarly California surfer, pioneered the technology. He rode the prototype in the 1995 movie "Waterworld," and said he has been dreaming of developing a motorized surfboard since he was a kid.

"And that God-given dream never left me and that's why it's here," he said.

The feeling of riding one of his boards is akin to riding a 50-foot monster wave, Montgomery said.

"It's the closest thing to surfing on a big wave that you will ever taste, without surfing," he said. "I always tell these gnarly surfer dudes who think this is cheating, 'Come out and give me 15 minutes.' It's like wave boarding or water skiing for 15 minutes -- it just kicks your butt."

Surfing has been evolving for centuries. The native Hawaiians rode gigantic Redwood slabs. In the 1930s, short Balsa wood boards were introduced and later, the fin was added. Eventually, board were made of fiberglass.

Surfers today are looking for the next extreme ride. Some go up in a helicopter to catch the biggest breaks. Earlier this year, pro surfer Garrett McNamara rode a 100-foot monster in Portugal, but only after being towed by a jet ski.

Montgomery sells the JetBoard, comprised of 800 parts, all over the world for upwards of $6,000 each. There are now six or seven JetBoard manufacturers worldwide but the boards still aren't available for sale in the United States because of permit issues. Montgomery's boards use two-stroke engines, which are banned in the U.S.

The JetBoard can hold up to 300 pounds so almost anyone can feel what it's like to catch a big wave, even in relatively wave-less lagoons. Jet surfing has become so popular that even in land-locked Czech Republic, there are JetBoard competitions.

"The sport needs to grow by the riders and players," he said. "The product always evolves in all sports."

With his board, Montgomery wants to spread the sport of jet-powered surfing to the masses, whether they live on the California coast or a lake in Oklahoma.

"Like the Beach Boys song says, if everyone had an ocean then everyone would be surfing," he said.

ABC News' Nick Watt contributed to this report