Interview with Gilo Cardoso, founder of Mako board
Hi gilo! just to start, please, tell what position do you hold in the company and for how long have you been involved into the project?
Gilo Cardozo is Founder and CEO of Gilo Industries Group, of which Mako Boardsports is a subsidiary. The concept of developing a jetboard is not new to Gilo, having investigated the development of a powered surfboard with an American company back in the late 90’s.
However, the partnership never worked out and Gilo turned his efforts to developing personal aircraft, creating Parajet, a world-leading manufacturer of paramotors (powered paragliders). In 2007, Parajet hit the world stage having successfully developed and built a revolutionary rotary engine capable of flying above the summit of Everest, delivering 95hp and fitted with a unique dual-fuel injector system that compensated for the changes in atmospheric pressure. Mission Everest saw Gilo team up with British adventurer Bear Grylls who achieved an altitude of 29,494ft - a feat many felt impossible. On completion of the expedition, Gilo began looking for ways to leverage the global exposure and market the groundbreaking rotary engine design – Rotron Power was born.
Today, Gilo Industries Group boasts full engineering and manufacturing capability at its UK-based factory. The 40,000 square foot headquarters houses state-of-the-art facilities from concept development and prototyping through to testing and manufacture. Leveraging the vast experience and skills residing within the Group, Gilo finally had the capability and desire to revisit the project and design the jetboard he has always envisaged and wanted to ride.
How did the idea of creating Mako boards? Was it a brand new effort or did you set it up on the base of an existing company?
The concept of a powered surfboard is not new. Riders have been trying to solve the "lack of waves” issue that comes with conventional surfboarding since the early 30s. Indeed, it was an image of Joe Gilpin dressed in a suit and bowler hat riding his electric surfboard that initially sparked Gilo’s imagination.
The Mako jetboard was designed from the ground up, drawing inspiration from feedback from current jetboard riders and our own testing of other products in the market. We wanted to address the concerns and needs of riders and develop a jetboard that really was a thrill to ride and used the latest technology and materials. To feel humbled and privileged in creating awesome motorised watercraft to fulfil those moments of inestimable value for our riders.
How did the name “Mako” appear and what does it mean?
In the wild, a Mako shark is a marvel of evolution and one of nature’s most successful, most enduring designs - over thousands of years, it has evolved, refined, and adapted to its environment to become the world’s most elite predator. The Mako’s azure streamlined, torpedo-shaped body, packed with thick, blood-rich muscles that act like pistons, effortlessly converts energy into intense thrust, sharp turning agility and explosive wave-breaching dexterity. A predator is the wildest thing there is, yet the Mako is an elegant, beautiful beast; sophisticated in design and enduring in nature.
And it's from this magnificent creature that we draw our inspiration. Mako jetboards articulate this clear expression of nature’s genius. A commanding presence in the water, our jetboard’s sharply defined squaline silhouette conceals cutting-edge technology and blistering power. Like its namesake, our jetboards look fast, feel fast and are perfectly balanced to give exceptional cornering agility and outstanding control, both in straight lines and while carving through turns. The compact fuel-efficient engine is the jetboard’s muscular dynamo offering plenty of power and an abundance of torque. The high-rpm aluminium jet drive - symbolising the tail of the Mako - converts this big power into intense thrust, delivering responsive crisp acceleration while minimising cavitation.
When you're redefining how we play on the water and creating the ultimate watercraft, what better characteristics to embody than a Mako Shark?
Tell a bit about your production process. How many people are involved, and what do you produce by your own and what do you order from other manufacturers? As i know, your engines are made at the aircraft factory, are they?
Over 98% of the Mako jetboard is designed and manufactured at our state-of-the-art facilities in the UK alongside our sister company Rotron Power, who produce the XT100 powerplant. In an age of digital production and automated assembly, Mako stays committed to creating a hand-assembled, hand-finished jetboard for one simple reason... there is no better way to craft such an exacting product. Only the meticulous and exacting hand of a true craftsman can deliver the design details and high level of finish that our riders demand, creating a quality that is simple not possible by any other means. From the herringbone carbon fiber monocoque hull, to the meticulous engine assembly, the choices made by our masterly craftsmen and designers are decisive and express an ability to create excellence with an aura of the special.
Our technology and innovation has a proven track record within the aviation and propulsion sectors, and we have carefully built a multi-disciplined eco-system of designers, engineers, technicians and operational staff that use a co-creative approach to generate new ideas, build proof-of-concepts and develop awesome watercraft that are fun to use.
How complicated was it to start from the very beginning?
Powered surfboards have been around for decades but no one has really done a good job of creating the ultimate board. Gilo Industries Group had reached a point where we had built a successful engine company and had the manufacturing skills and infrastructure that made us realise that we could do this ourselves and really make a jetboard that was the most advanced, fun, powerful, fast, exciting, lightweight ‘Formula 1 car’ style jetboard. That’s what we have come up with.
The intelligent way to design the Mako jetboard would have been to create a structure of mechanics and then wrap it something that was functional and looked beautiful. However, for us it slightly goes the other way. We decided at the beginning that we wanted this jetboard to be visually captivate, and therefore the aesthetics of how the final jetboard would look were so important. Once we had agreed on a concept, our design team then progressed the initial sketches through to a more succinct design using a range of high fidelity rendering of the external form, and digital 3D CAD proof of principle models. Having created this visually exciting hull design, the next challenge was to design the mechanical principles and figure out how we could optimise every last inch of space to its maximum and know for certain that we could fit the components inside the board.
Then, concerning your design and your cooperation with such brands as Bremont. What famous brands have you united with to create your product and how did you manage this?
The obvious partnership during the design of the Mako jetboard was with SOLIDWORKS. Working closely with their internal software team and our local distributor, SolidSolutions, to develop tools and application that helped extend the power and utility of SOLIDWORKS allow us to maximise productivity, implement innovative designs, develop design analysis matrix and achieve our development goals more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Our partnership with Bremont is a clear statement of intent for Mako: that we are committed to fostering the continuation of one of Great Britain's industrial cornerstones: meticulously crafted, high-tech industrial design and manufacture. It's a philosophy that is at the core of Mako's view for the future and one that the company shares with Nick and Giles English and their team at Bremont.
You present only one model, is it a principled position or you are going to exceed the model range in due course?
The Slingshot is our flagship jetboard for a reason - it’s a showcase for Mako performance, handling, versatility and design. Over the coming months our primary focus is on delivering the highest level of service and support to our riders. We have made considerable investment to ensure that our customers are at the centre of the business and that we can fulfil our promise to provide the most exciting Jet board in existance. Our design and engineering team have already made considerable progress in the development of new upcoming products, engineering each detail so that all the elements work harmoniously together including those subtle details that are not so obvious, just simply experienced.
Now I would like to ask some stickier questions. If some of them you do not want to answer, just ignore them. Definitely, we are very glad about the new brand at the market, but seems that mako board has adopted many things froms jetsurf, would you agree? How is your relationship with jestsurf developing and have you conversed with martin sula? Are you aware of their attitudes towards this issue?
Leaders, innovators and creatives change the world by inspiring and looking to the world around them for inspiration. We view Jetsurf and all the other jetboard manufacturers as a challenge to improve the products we create. At the start of the design process we had a very clear vision in what we wanted to achieve and why, and the Mako Slingshot is an authentic representation of our design vision. As a company we are trying to change the lives of our riders in our own unique way. We are doing this through delivering the very best features, focusing on the delivery of the highest level of service, our brand values, and the community we are building around ourselves. Trying to copy our competitors would mean that we would always two steps behind in our development and the inauthentic nature of our motives would be a turn off to our customers. We all may take inspiration from each other, but never will the outcome be the same because each company will be adopted and adapted by its own perspective and intuition to fit their mission and product vision.
Are you planning to participate in Motosurf World Cup and do you consider your board as sport equipment or it is just a leisure?
Currently we have no commitments to racing, yet the Mako would definitely be suited to the Motosurf World Cup and we have had many riders contact us wanting to ride our boards. Feedback from riders is that the board is certainly fast and light enough to compete and win. The slightly longer hull design and tapered nose rails allows you to bury the rails deeper into the water giving you more acceleration out of turns and also makes it easier to change direction of the board because there is less side directional water resistance. This gives riders agile rider-active handling and improved maneuverability across a wider range of water conditions.
How many Mako boards have been produced by now?
The later part of 2017 and over the next couple of months we are shipping boards to those riders and VIP customers that were fortunate to have been eligible for pre-order status. We have also recently moved to a dedicated production facility that will allow us to rapidly increase the availability of boards for our riders. Our focus is getting our customers out on the water as soon as possible so that they can experience the performance of our jetboard and share in the pulse-pounding excitement of riding Mako.
And as a conclusion, please, tell a bit more about your board and its peculiarities and advantages over other brands. Also, what is your target audience? How would you describe a Mako board rider?
The Mako design is driven by the demands of our riders and the need for performance. The better the board performs, the more intense the sensation of the ride becomes. As such, emotion is still the heart and soul of every Mako jetboard - an expression of the experience itself. Mako is aimed at people who are going places and having fun getting there. Our riders are people whose leisure time is of inestimable value. That seek out the very best in performance and design, and are looking for the ultimate adventure on every wave, and relish those moments they have worked hard to achieve.
As a company, we are therefore humbled and privileged to help create those awesome moments, so powerful, so amazing, so perfect, that time seems to stand still. Those moments, coupled with the lasting excitement that lingers long after the moment has passed, that our riders live for. Mako’s organised board layout simplifies setup, increasing anticipation and enjoyment in the moment. From external re-fuelling, to the accessible battery pack, we have focussed on getting rid of unnecessary faff and putting the necessities at the rider’s fingertips, so the impulse to ride feels less like a chore!
We have built an experienced and dedicated team that knows every little detail about our board and can assist riders no matter what the problem. To maximise Mako’s performance and to keep it running at its best, for longer, we take great pride in our commitment to providing great customer support with a tailored, complementary maintenance and information service for Mako riders. So even after the board has left the factory we’ll always be on hand to help, and go that extra mile to look after our customers.