Auckland’s 1st hydrofoiling electric passenger boat passes tests with ‘flying’ colours

Vessev, New Zealand’s hydrofoiling electric passenger boat manufacturer, has successfully completed the initial testing phase of its VS—9 platform, on the way to gaining certification by Maritime New Zealand.

The sea trials started May 10, and on certification the first boats will be used to to augment existing ferry fleets and deliver a premium private water transport service and for the largest ferry operator in New Zealand, Fullers360.

The nine metre (29.5 foot) boat uses ultra-high authority hydrofoil systems, where the foils change shape using precisely adjusted flaps under the water to optimize efficiency. This enables the VS—9 to handle adverse weather and provide for better seakeeping. Having said that, the boat exceeded even some of the company’s expectations.

“We have been pushing the VS—9 less than two weeks after its first flight and she has been ticking all the boxes and more,” said Vessev CEO Eric Laakmann . “On some of our test sessions, we had 25 knots gusting 35 (28 mph / 45 kmh  gusting 40 mph / 65 kmhO with wind waves to match and she was cruising over the waves. The sea-state in these photos and videos had waves averaging 0.75m (2.5 ft) but a few wave faces were over 1.0m (3.3 ft).

To be used in Huaraki Gulf

“While the VS—9 didn’t have any issues operating in these sea-states, it was next to impossible for the same length chase boat to follow along without slamming through wave after wave. This was a testament to the difference that these vessels can make in our experiences on the water and the new opportunities that they unlock.”

When Fullers 360 takes delivery of the passenger boats, they will be used in the Hauraki Gulf that extends off Auckland that to include over a million hectares of sparkling blue waters dotted with emerald islands. Water that size can have its challenges, though, and non-foiling boats need to be a minimum size to deliver a comfortable experience based on wind and wave action. The Vessev V-9 promises to break the mould.

Vessev V-9 outfitted for passenger service

“One of the great features of these hydrofoiling vessels is their ability to handle waves in a totally different way to a conventional vessel,” said Max Olson, Vessev founder and CTO. “By riding above them, we create a vessel that can operate throughout a wider range of sea states than ever. The more challenging use cases that the VS—9 will operate in would not be possible with a similar non-foiling vessel.”

Olson continued “The performance is possible due to the foil system we’ve chosen and the high precision flaps changing the angle of attack. The flaps can move very quickly – end-to-end in less than half a second. They really give the VS—9 so much authority in waves to react to them and maintain an incredibly stable platform. We are all very impressed with it.”

Read: Candela P-12 ferry to operate in ‘New Zealand’s most beautiful lake’

The VS—9 is designed to transport up to 10 passengers at a service speed of 25 knots with a range of 50 nautical miles (57 miles/92.6km). Because the hydrofoil wings have minimal friction when travelling through the water, energy efficiency is increased dramatically over traditionally hulled boats. The light weight of the carbon fibre construction also reduces energy requirements.

hydrofoiling electric passenger boat interior

The VS—9 takes off at 18-19 knots, transitioning from foil assist to full foiling mode. The foil stabilisation systems enter operation at 12 knots – actively reducing pitch and roll motion, even when not fully on foils and ‘flying’. The foils are fully retractable, allowing the vessel to operate in shallow water and protect the foils so it can be transported on a trailer. 

Hydrofoiling electric passenger boat in service this August

These initial tests are focused on evaluating the VS—9’s core functionality before final outfitting with the cabin and interior, which will be added in July before the VS—9 is relaunched in August.

“This enhanced capability scales up to larger vessels like the 100-passenger platform, the VS—18, which we have planned,” Eric Laakmann noted. “There are some ferry routes in New Zealand which are often cancelled due to weather. These are routes which have more exposure to wind and waves. The VS-18, and vessels like it, will be able to ride above the waves and deliver a more consistent and pleasant service than what exists today.”

Vessev website  Fullers 360 website

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