California e-boat startup Boundary Layers Technology (BLT) has launched their Valo Hyperfoil electric jetski with the announcement that they have orders for three times more craft than expected for the inaugural 2023 production run.
The ‘hyperfoil’ is a hydrofoiling personal watercraft BLT began developing only in the last months of 2022, when they pivoted from their original mission of bringing hydrofoiling to container ships.
The reason for the shift? Beyond the technical challenges involved in lifting a heavy cargo-carrying vessel out of the water on hydrofoils, the sell-in process to the shipping industry is lengthy and complicated when trying to convert companies that have already made large investments in traditional transport.
“We simply shifted from ‘big first’, to ‘fast first’,” CEO Ed Kearney told Haje Jan Kamps of TechCrunch in December. “What we love about Valo is how fast we can get to market. We are bringing all the technology we were developing for massive container ships and ferries and using it to deliver one hell of a recreational product.”
CTO Reo Baird said “The game changing advantage of the small form factor of the Valo is the blistering speed at which we can iterate to get to market.” Baird joined BLT in January after working on the successful launch of the Navier 30 electric hydrofoiling recreational boat. Sure enough, a few months later the Valo is up and flying.
“We had no idea it would be this much fun”
That’s Baird in the photo of the Valo above and video below. Leaving the business and tech side for a minute and speaking about the on-water experience, he says “Everyone on the team knew it would be exciting to ride, but we really had no idea it would be this much fun, an experience that’s really hard to describe. The closest analogy is like skiing in deep powder snow.” “It really feels like this is the future” adds Kearney.
The Valo has three retractable elements: the electric motor at the stern and two hydrofoiling wings midway along the craft. They are manually deployed by simply pushing down on each, and the hyperfoiler is ready to do its hyperfoiling stuff. The draft is 16″ / 0.4m with wings and motors up, 4.3 ft / 1.3 m when down.
Hyperfoiler electric jetski hits 42 mph
The company has not released information on the power of the electric motor, but they do say the Valo has a top speed of 42 mph (667 kmh / 36kt) and a cruise speed of 30 mph (48 kmh / 26kt). At cruise speed the range is estimated to be about 2 hours and 20 minutes: 65 miles/100 km, depending on wind and water conditions. Charging takes 3 hours on a Level 2 240V EV charger.
With a length of 11.5 ft / 3.5 m and width of 3.9 ft / 1.2 m, the Valo is designed to carry two people comfortably. A speed of 15 mph (24 kmh / 13kt) is necessary to get the hyperfoil foiling, so it has been built with carbon fibre composites, titanium, and stainless steels to maximize strength and minimize weight.The passenger(s) and their ‘carry on’, can weigh up to 430 lbs / 195 kg.
Once up and ‘flying’, the stability is ensured by BLT’s proprietary Skyride system that measures the position, state and behaviour of the Valo 100 times per second, then computes where to position each of the control surfaces and flaps on the wings.
One of the investors in BLT is Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital, which has also backed the ARC One electric towsport boat developed by SpaceX engineers. Other companies and people involved with BLT include former Meta CTO Mike Schroepfer and Fifty Years, an early stage VC firm based in San Francisco backed by 44 founders of tech companies looking to help change the world for the better.
Fifty Years Partner Alex Teng says “The core tech of the Valo has the potential to totally decarbonize watercraft. Electrifying speed, zero emission, nearly silent — Valo is a work of art you feel good flying.”
CEO Kearney points out that “the first Jet Ski was on the market 50 years ago this year, and it’s time for a major upgrade.Valo will be a complete revolution for personal watercraft.
While the first production run of the Valo Hyperfoiler is sold out, you can reserve your spot in the Block 2 production run with an expected delivery date at the end of 2024. The base price is $US 59,000, reservations require a fully refundable deposit of $500.