Science & technology
Amazing £40,000 'dolphin boat' which can leap out of the water
by LAURA ROBERTS - More by this author » Last updated at 23:00pm on 1st January 2007
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It looks like something from a James Bond film. Shaped exactly like a dolphin, this boat is the latest toy for millionaire adrenaline junkies. The Seabreacher can jump 10 feet in the air and even perform acrobatic tricks.
Created by two water sport fanatics, New Zealander Rob Innes, 33, and Californian Dan Piazza, the Seabreacher is made of out of fibre glass, stainless steel and aluminium and uses the discarded canopies of US fighter jets.
The two-seater craft can submerge 2 ft underwater for around 20 seconds at a time creating the dolphin-like dive effect.
The price for a custom-made Seabreacher is not for the fainthearted and would cost in the region of £40,000.
Mr Innes said: "Because it's so light it pops out of the water like a cork. It can fly up to 10 feet in the air even if you are going at 15 mph.
"It's really just for fun. It's a 3-D jet ski. We liken it to a monster truck. In the end we would like to turn it into a recognised sport as you can race and jump. You can do a single or double roll in the Seabreacher which is great fun though the landing is quite rough.
"It is quite complicated to drive though - it's a workout to handle it. I would be wary of selling it on to people because there is the danger that after submerging you could hit a boat or a swimmer. We always stay in radio contact to check the surface."
The current Seabreacher model is 14 ft 10 inches long and weighs 1,000 lbs. It has taken eight years for the creative Innespace duo to make the two-seater vessel which they hope to turn into a model for 'aqua Formula One'.
The 175 horsepower engine enables it to 'fly' through water using an Atkins marine rotary engine. A super-charged 300lb engine is available which generates 240 horsepower, the equivalent of an engine used in a standard family car.
Mr Innes said: "The latest model is actually less dolphin-like in shape than earlier versions but the general shape makes it move more efficiently through water. It's always best to try and imitate nature in these things."
The cockpit has glass three quarters of an inch thick, taken from Raptor-22 fighter jets. This enables it to withstand re-entering the water nose-first without shattering.
The pilot and passenger are both strapped into their seats with four-point safety harnesses, similar to those used in rally cars, to protect them from the impact of diving and jumping.
Two fins, or wings, which are operated by hand-held joysticks allow the pilot to change direction while the tail, or rudder, is operated using foot pedals.
There are even two windows positioned near the foot pedals of the pilot so that any obstacles underneath the boat can be seen.
Future models will have a camera attached to the outside of the boat with screens visible to the pilot to make it easier to see swimmers or boat hulls underwater.
Seabreacher has a long snorkel concealed within the top fin which provides an airflow into the boat. During diving the butterfly valve closes to prevent the cockpit from getting flooded. Mr Innes said: "It's perfect for rich adrenaline junkies."
The Seabreacher will be available to test-drive from this summer.