When you’re at a boat show and look up to see an airplane towing an advertising banner saying ‘TEXT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN FREE FUEL’ – it is probably a good sign that the show is not focussed on electric boats.
That was certainly true of the 63rd edition of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last week, with dock after dock – 90 acres in all – of fossil fuel boats, including 60 foot racers with as many as five 400HP outboards hanging off their transoms.
It was still impressive, though to see how many electric boat and boating exhibitors were there, strewn throughout the gigantic site, including X Shore, Vision Marine Technologies, Limestone/Aquasport Boats, Four Winns, TWIN-DISC, Voltari, Sunreef Yachts, Aqua superPower, ePropulsion, e-Motion Hybrid Systems, Highfield RIBS, Torqeedo, Pure Watercraft, SILENT-Yachts and Ingenity Electric.
In all there were over 1,300 exhibitors and 1,000 boats on display across three million square feet of in-water and on-land exhibit space at the Broward County Convention Centre, Bahia Mar Yachting Centre, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Pier-66 Marina and the Superyacht Pavilion at Pier South.
Ingenity Electric had one of the prime locations, near the entrance of the Bahia Mar in-water exhibition, and their new collaboration with classic boat builder Hacker was the first stop for thousands of boat show visitors.
The mahogany deck, glistening hull sheathing and iconic lines of the Hacker-Craft 27 Special Sport is what caught the eyes of those boaters, but the Ingenity power train in the motor compartment aft of the buttery leather seats is what opened them to the possibilities of electric propulsion.
I chatted with Sean Marrero, President of Ingenity Electric, and Todd Sims, the company’s Director of Project Sales. Both are long time marine industry veterans and both are excited about the new Hacker-Craft and what it means as an indicator of the future for electric boats in general and Ingenity in particular.
“I think this is just such a cool story,” said Sean “that two hundred-year-old companies have gotten together to work on something that is on the leading edge of boating’s non fossil-fuel possibilities.”
Hacker and Correct Craft history
John Hacker was a Michigan boy so passionate about the first planing boats starting to appear in the late 19th century that he attended night school and took a correspondence course to become an accredited marine designer and develop some of his then-radical theories about high speed boats.
By 1908 he had built a 30-foot runabout featuring his stunningly efficient “V”-hull design and founded the Hacker Boat Company on the same day that the first Model T rolled off the equally revolutionary assembly line of Henry Ford.
Down in Florida about that time Walter C. Meloon was busy building a variety of craft ranging from powerboats to sailboats and was ready to found the Florida Variety Boat Company in 1925. It was later named Correct Craft when he was inspired by a radio advertisement explaining “the correct heel for your shoe” and he thought of “the correct craft for you.”
Both companies prospered through the 20th century and both assisted the US Navy during World War II. Hacker was set up for bespoke boats, not mass production, but redesigned the Army Air Force rescue boats and built 45-foot picket boats.
Correct Craft, on the other hand, was set up for mass production, so much so that General Eisenhower asked them to build approximately 400 boats in thirty days – far more than they had ever achieved. They did accomplish the task, using an innovative process that the National Geographic later dubbed “A Miracle Production”, which solidified the company’s reputation for quality and dependability.
Correct Craft has carried on since then in the tradition of ‘variety boat company’ and has expanded the number of brands under its umbrella. They now include Ingenity, Nautique, Bass Cat and Yar-Craft, Centurion, Supreme Parker Boats and related marine companies like Merritt Precision (milling and CNC machining) and Osmosis telematics.
Hacker has continued to this day to focus on individualized boats with hand finishes, unmistakable iconic designs and meticulous craftsmanship.
Special Sport 27 a fitting marriage
The electric Sport from Hacker is a fitting marriage of the legacy and futures of these two companies.
As Director of Project Sales, Todd Sims was the Ingenity lead on the project. “This was a dream assignment’ said Todd. “Aside from being an electric boat guy, I am a boat guy, and these boats are simply legendary. Look at the detailing of everything, just perfect. For me, the only thing that could possibly be better than a Hacker-Craft is an electric Hacker-Craft.”
The boat is powered by Ingenity’s integrated drive package with 126kWh of battery capacity and has remote connectivity via the Osmosis telematics platform. It is planned for a top speed of 30 knots and cruising speed of 18 knots cruise with a 2-3 hour runtime and 30 mile (≈50km) range using a mixture of speeds.The system can recharge overnight at a residential dock or as quickly as 1.5 hours at a high-capacity DC Fast Charger at a marina or on a superyacht.
Todd is no stranger to working on projects like this. Our conversation turned to the electric-hybrid Picnic boat recently announced by another legacy American boat maker, Hinckley.
The Hinckley Picnic 40S has a hybrid ‘Silent Jet’ technology in which a diesel motor and electric motor power a jet system designed in conjunction with Twin Disc. It is well suited to use for many Hinckley owners, who want to have diesel’s ability to quickly get far offshore in ocean waters but also want the quiet of an electric motor when cruising at low speeds.
Hinckley first dipped their toe into electric propulsion back in 2016 when they developed the Dasher all-electric concept boat. It was conceived from a gathering of “futurists including entrepreneurial leaders, accomplished engineers, and known innovators from all over the world.”
Todd worked on that Dasher earlier in his career, pre -Correct Craft. He also worked on electrifying ‘two beautiful cruisers, one of them a classic old 80 footer’ says Todd. ‘Unfortunately, I can’t talk about them because the owners wanted to avoid publicity and requested a Non Disclosure Agreement.”
When Correct Craft was looking for someone with electric experience to sign up with their Ingenity brand in 2020, Todd got the call and couldn’t be happier. “Bill Yeargin, the President of Correct Craft, came to sit and chat with me in my office my first day on the job”, he says. “It is a company that values the contributions of its employees and I get to work on the future of boating and projects like the Hacker-Craft. What’s not to like?”
Sean Marrero started at Correct Craft in 2016 as Chief Operating Office and has headed up the electric divisions – Watershed Innovations, Ingenity, and Osmosis – since 2018.
That was the same year he studied Disruptive Innovation through Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program, and that understanding is foundational to the company’s approach to electrification in the boating industry.
“Our motto is ‘a better tomorrow today’” he says, “and that is how everyone on our team approaches electric boats. They are not going to be adopted by everyone immediately, and as part of Correct Craft, we know that there are lots of fossil fuel boats that serve boaters well.
“In our division, we are making electric boats and technology available now, and we will continue to add more boats – and also the infrastructure to support the electric boats – as we keep moving toward that better tomorrow.”
A case in point is the announcement of their strategic partnership with charging systems provider Aqua superPower to jointly promote marine e-mobility in the sports and leisure boat sector.
“Electrification is more than just boats” Marrero points out. “there is nobody doing more on the marine charging side than Aqua and so we all work alongside like-minded companies to provide the next generation of infrastructure, distribution, and support.”
The first Ingenity powered boat – the Nautique GS22E – was introduced just less than three years ago in January of 2020. This past January they added to the line with Ingenity 23E day-boat. Now they have added the Hacker-Craft to the line up.
There are more on the way. A sign of that is the ‘skateboard’ design that the 23E is built on (see video at bottom of page). Adopting the manufacturing design principles of the automotive industry, it allows the company to put different ‘tops’ on a standard platform that encompasses the battery and other essential electric drive components.
More Ingenity Electric on the way
When it comes to specifics of what is next, Marrero says there are lots of possibilities, perhaps in conjunction with other Correct Craft boat brands or Ingenity branded models.
Plans are already underway for more electric Hacker-Craft. In late January the company introduced a new line – the Aquavant Collection – that builds on the company’s classic lines and impeccable woodenboat craftsmanship with three new models: the Center Console, a modification of the Sport series; the Commuter: A 37.5’ hardtop with open-style cabin; and the Monaco, a 40 footer with open transom, swim platform and cuddy cabin.
All of these models are now available with Ingenity electric propulsion and telematics.
Hacker CEO George Badcock says “We’ve already seen an increasing number of inquiries about electric and hybrid propulsion. The partnership between Hacker Boat Company and Ingenity Electric has come together at the perfect moment.”
“When it comes to working with Hacker and Correct Craft, Ingenity stands on the shoulders of giants, and now it is our turn to lay the foundation for an exciting future for all our companies and customers.” says Sean. “With the Nautique GS22E, Ingenity 23E and Special Sport, our electric boats are all top of class in their segments: Sport, Luxury and Legacy. Going forward you can rest assured that every boat we offer will have the same excellence of technology, quality and innovation. ”