Electric hydrofoil the ultimate wave rider

A team of young designers from Slovenia has come up with a two-man electric hydrofoil, which they are calling a “sports car for the water.”

Known as the Quadrofoil, the eye-catching machine is powered by an electric motor, meaning completely silent running and a top speed of 25 MPH.

According to the design team, one of the main advantages of the machine is its lack of emissions, which means that, unlike gasoline-fueled watercraft, the Quadrofoil will not damage delicate marine ecosystems.

The craft is equipped with a single 3.7 kilowatt electric motor, and weighing in at just 330  pounds — thanks to its carbon fiber and Kevlar body and in-built 4.5 kilowatt hour lithium batteries — it has a charge range of 62 miles.

Like other hydrofoils, once the craft picks up enough speed its legs lift it out the water. The boat’s uplift means that any waves below 20 inches will simply pass under the body of the craft. The Quadrofoil comes with detachable flexible solar panels that can be used to charge the batteries in case of emergencies.

Because the uplift out of the water means drag is kept to a minimum, hydrofoils can reach breakneck speed in the water. Indeed, the fastest sailing boat in the world is a hydrofoil. The designers say they used biomimicry in the development of the craft and though it’s perhaps not what they had in mind, it’s certainly true that if you squint a little the boat bears more than just a passing resemblance to a crab.

This ultimate eco-friendly recreational toy costs roughly $19,000. Customers ordering one of the first 100 units must lay down deposits of around $6,400. The design team, which goes under the name Quadrofoil D.O.O, are hoping that they can sell enough units to scale up production; their ambition is to make 10,000 units by 2013.

The company’s hopes may not be completely without foundation, not if the electric boat market is anything to go by. Consumer interest in electric watercraft is booming and a number of striking designs have appeared over recent years.

In 2009, the iRev appeared on the market, a unique party boat shaped like a donut.

Developed by an outfit known as Motothority, the manufacturers claim that the iRev is made from nearly half reclaimed material. It is mostly recyclable and sports a low smoke charcoal grill which diffuses most of the smoke internally. 

Another rather impressive design is the Ego Semi-Submarine, an electric catamaran with a submersible viewing chamber which allows you to keep your hair dry while viewing underwater life.These recreational electric boats have been complimented, in Holland at least, by electric boathouses where the crafts can re-charge.

Aside from these eye-catching designs, other electric boats on the market are more conventional, and quite a lot cheaper. Electric vehicle specialist Hammacher Schlemmer has come up with some simple river boats which come equipped with a 12-volt electric motor as standard.

Not that they’re exactly giving them away. They retail at between $3,500 and $,4,000, though they do at least all come with a waterproof 120-watt audio system with two 5″ speakers that plays music from a connected iPod and a built-in cooler that holds up to 12 bottles or cans.

Paul Willis, EarthTechling