New Arc Sport making electric wakes in the tow boat world

Arc Boats, the venture-backed electric boat startup known for being co-founded by a former SpaceX engineer, has launched the Arc Sport with the claim of being ‘the most advanced wake boat to hit the water‘.

When Arc co-founder Mitch Lee (not from SpaceX) spoke with Plugboats way back in October 2020, he said that the intention of the company was always to use their first model, the Arc One, as a limited edition offering that would pave the way for more mainstream electric boats.

Listen to the Plugboats Podcast with Arc CEO Mitch Lee

True to his word, the 20th and final Arc One rolled out of the company’s shop in January, and now they are taking orders for the Arc Sport, which will be manufactured in the new facilities they broke ground on in October 2023 after a Series B financing round that brought their total funding to $110M (€102M / £86M).

The company’s news release for the Sport says they are hoping for ‘mass-market appeal’, but it is definitely designed for a fairly small audience – wakeboarders/surfers and other watersports enthusiasts – rather than the average weekend boater.

Electric brings benefits to wake boats

For that boarding market, the Arc Sport delivers what fossil fuel powered owners are accustomed to while also adding some advantages that come from electrification.

The power and speed are definitely there, with a motor that can deliver 570 hp – approximately 425 kiloWatts. Whichever way you prefer to measure power, horses or kW, that is a lot. Lee says boaters can expect a top speed of 40 mph, and optimal cruising speed is in the mid-20s.

Side view of Arc Sport electric tow boat

The batteries that provide all the electricity can store a total of 226 kiloWatt hours of energy. Straight physics mean that if the Sport was using all of the available 425 watts, boaters would use up the electricity in about a half hour (425 watts multiplied by .53 hours equals 226 kiloWatt hours).

The usage reality is much different, though. For one thing, that 40 mph speed doesn’t use all of the power, the company has applied a software governor. More important, while people may think they are tearing around at top speed all the time when they go out wakeboarding, the vast majority of time is spent at low speeds (or even idling) while getting the boarders ready, or circling to pick them up.

That kind of use requires almost zero energy, so Arc is confident in saying that for most people, the Sport “can handle a typical day out on the water” and that on average, it should “support 4-6 hours of active usage time.”

Trace the history of Arc Boats through the pages of Plugboats

When it comes to charging the batteries, a Level 2 charger with 19 kW output would take the system from 20% charge to 80% charge (135 kWh) in about 7 hours, while Level 3 fast-charging takes about 45 minutes.

Weight of batteries improves wake

With some high power electric boats the weight of the battery can be an issue. Not so with a wake boat, however. In fact, users like a heavier boat to create a better wake and they even add ballast to achieve that. 

Arc hasn’t issued details about the batteries, but a weight of 4 kgs (8.8 lbs) per kiloWatt hour of storage is a fairly common rule of thumb. That would put the batteries somewhere around 900 kg – roughly a ton in imperial measurements (1,980 lbs). The batteries are also strategically placed throughout the hull to create a better wake and balance.

Bow area seating in Arc Sport electric boat

All of that means the Arc Sport has a dry weight of 6,900 lb / 3,130 kg and ballasted weight of 9,000 lb / 4,080 kg. What’s more, the ballasting to shape waves and customize the ‘perfect wave for every rider‘ is done via software controlled from the dashboard. (As a side note, a nice touch with the Arc Sport is that bow and stern thrusters make it easier to dock a boat this heavy back at the marina.)

The software also monitors things like speed, battery state of charge, available range…and controls an auto-retract hardtop tower that can be adjusted for the weather and the optimal tow point.

Arc Sport: less noise, zero stink

For people going out on their boat to enjoy watersports, there are two BIG differences between a fossil fuel boat and the electric Arc Sport: sound and fumes.

Those being towed by the boat no longer have to breathe in the carbon monoxide and hundreds of noxious chemicals in a fossil fuel exhaust. For the people inside the boat (and outside) the near silence of the experience means they can talk without chatting and easily communicate with the boarder.

The Arc Sport has room for 15 people (including pilot) to enjoy all of this, with plenty of room both fore and aft of the cockpit.

Arc Sport dashboard and cockpit areaFor those that like some music to enhance the experience, there is an entertainment system with JL Audio speakers and a large screen so riders can view their journey through video recaps and stats.

All of those dashboard and software capabilities point to another big advantage of electric boats. Everything on an Arc Sport can be remotely monitored, and by accumulating and analyzing data, the experience for the captain, riders and the performance of the boat itself can be continuously tweaked and improved.

Those improvements are also informed by data from all of the Arc Sport fleet, and the systems of all boats are updated remotely through OTA (over the air) capabilities.

Pricing for the Arc Sport starts at $US 258,000. A quick Google search of ‘how much does a wakeboard boat cost‘ comes up with “you can expect to pay anywhere from $70,000 to $300,000+ for a new wakeboard boat“, so the Sport seems to be right in line – with no ongoing gasoline fuel-ups to pay for.

Arc says their ‘first development unit is already ripping across the water‘ and deliveries begin this year. You can Reserve your own Arc Sport with a $500 refundable deposit. Website link below.

Arc Boats

Arc Sport Specs

Length 23 ft / 7 m
Beam 102 inches / 2.6 m
Draft 35 inches / .89 m
Material Fibreglass
Dry Weight 6,900 lb / 3,130 kg
Ballasted Weight 9,000 lb / 4,080 kg
Seating 15
Power 570 hp / ≈ 420 kW
Battery 226 kWh
Surf System 3 tabs

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