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Asap: An electric alternative to the Jet Ski


August 8, 2013

Ross Kemp's latest Asap prototype

Ross Kemp's latest Asap prototype

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Frankly, what I know about water sports can be written on the dorsal fin of my imaginary surf board (what do you mean they don't have dorsal fins?), but I'm not going to let that stop me telling you a bit about Asap, an electric watercraft which combines elements of Jet Skis, body boards and catamarans.

I say "water sports," but British designer Ross Kemp has actually designed Asap (named after the acronym for "as soon as possible") as a rescue craft for lifeguards. It's designed to be a "pollution free" alternative to the Jet Ski while still being significantly faster than swimming. It's not a million miles from the Exoconcept we saw in 2011.

Though widely-reported as being solar-powered, it isn't inherently so. But because it's an electric vehicle, solar power is a possibility, and may make sense if storing the Asap near the water's edge which, obviously, is where you want it to be. (Charge it with fossil-fuel-derived electricity and obviously the non-polluting claims fly out of the chimney, though at least it is still clean at the point of use.)

Designer Ross Kemp with the Asap

The product has been in development for a number of years, over which time Kemp has developed two prototypes. The first apparently caught the attention of Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, who passed word to Richard Branson. Branson offered to fly the current improved prototype to Bondi Beach for testing by the native lifeguards.

A CNN report on the Asap lists numerous advantages over the Jet Ski for rescue purposes. To begin with, Asap can be launched quickly and easily by a single lifeguard, and it is designed to be as easy as possible to place an injured person upon. It's also claimed that the v-shape of its hull reduces slapping on the water.

The first prototype of the ASAP was much smaller

"A lot of rescue aids are simply re-purposed leisure equipment," Kemp told CNN. "For example a paddle board is just a surf board, and a Jet Ski is just adapted for rescue purposes, so rescuers adapt the way they rescue people to the equipment rather than the equipment for them."

According to CNN Asap is still in development, so the final specification isn't finalized. However, the current prototype travels at 15 mph (24 km/h). Better yet, Kemp is apparently planning to release Asap on the leisure market. Watch this space.

Sources: Asap, CNN

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Very interesting design. It seems that the Brits are taking design very seriously and coming up with great things.

Lewis Dickens

The electric water board space is getting interesting fast!

This Asap is not a jet powered vehicle, but rather has a traditional propeller. I have talked to fireman that do water rescue, and a complaint they have about traditional jet skis is the jets get plugged up when running in shallow water. When that happens they have to turn the jet ski over in the water and unplug the jet. Not easy.

The earlier but similar device is the Kymera. It is a flat board with similar batteries but uses a traditional jet. It does look easier to grab and throw in the water with one person however.

Kymera also has a solar panel designed to keep the vehicle charged when waiting for use. My guess is that will work with either of these vehicles.

Another problem is if this is a single person vehicle, what do you do with the person rescued? From this article it is hard to tell how Asap is handling that. I believe Kymera designed a tow board for the rescued that might work with either option? From speaking with fireman, I know one key is making sure the rescued's head stays out of the water during the extraction.

[See our most recent article on the Kymera at: http://www.gizmag.com/kymera-powered-body-board-kickstarter/26390/ – Ed.]


"Jet Ski" is a brand name by Kawasaki. The vehicle being discussed is called a personal water craft.

Ninja DM

Looks and sounds better than a PWC, but I worry about the recharging aspect and the time it might take. If multiple rescues are needed and the power runs down, it is not like quickly pouring (carefully) a new tank of tuel into the machine. Also, the thought of dragging a dripping wet machine up to a 120 or 240V supply is scary - as does the idea of someone dragging a power cord down to the water's edge! "Oops, dropped it, hey! why are all the people falling ove...."

The Skud

I would much prefer that the Lifeguards (I believe that would be Life Savers down in Oz) have watercraft that can be kept in constant use all day. "Sorry the kid drown but we were changing/charging the battery in the rescue vehicle." does not cut it as a explanation. I understand not wanting gasoline (petrel) spilled in the water. I would suggest propane / butane as the fuel of choice and suggest that plant or animal based lubrication is workable as well.

I also think that such a power system could be widely accepted in short order doing far more good than the electrical system that most people don't want.


A simple way to get round the idea of the batteries running down would be to use hot swappable batteries.

However comments about limited range may be premature as we don't actually know how long a charge will last...


When you want a fast and reliable start of your engine every time, electric is the way to go. "Sorry about the kid drowning, my jet ski didn't fire up!" is a bad excuse. The Asap might make the rescuing business a bit safer after all.

I don't understand why people (especially those who never used EVs of all kind themselves) always moan about the recharge issue: Properly designed there will be enough capacity to do more than one rescue run on a single charge, and then there will be time between the runs to recharge or a back up unit. If you use electric stuff, you gotta get your head around to think electric. That appears to be the most difficult problem for most people who have learned to think gas for such a long time. (Actually: Seeking a filling station every time you run low on fuel, and then splash around with inflammable fluids in large quantities, how silly is that?)

@ The Skud: You don't really believe dropping an average 120V or even 230V cable into the ocean would do anyone harm, do you? Also, a thing such as the Asap could never really get wet enough to be dangerous when dragged near a power supply. Thats all nothing but superstition! Trust me, I plug my EV in on rainy days on a regular basis without Thor ever throwing his hammer at me ...


I think this is really cool. I am glad it won't be just for life guards.

It would be neat that the trailer that is used to transport this also had a solar panel on it that could recharge the battery while in transport. If used as a life guard rescue vessel, perhaps the life guard station could have a solar panel to not only charge the vehicle but also give shade to the life guard.

An alternative to just batteries would be a fuel cell. There are many small ones that could be used in something this small and they are getting less expensive. One could even get a solar powered hydrogen station to refill the tanks.


What is the weight?

Jason Woods

Ah yes, Jason, the weight. I wonder about lugging this device down to water's edge. Perhaps some handles with trailing casters or a front wheel (like a wheelbarrow) would make it easier to get to the water, and back out.

Bruce H. Anderson

I don't understand how electric powered anything can be considered "green". A significant portion of our electricity still comes from coal fired powerplants. In addition, here in California, there are issues with too many consumers of electricity particularly on hot days.

So what the heck, let's plug in a million or so vehicles to recharge while we do the laundry in an air conditioned environment. Does anyone see a problem growing here?

I like the idea of a fuel cell. Until nuclear power or other environmentally conscious power generation methods become more prevalent in this country, "electric powered" does not mean "green".

How much does it cost to recycle a Prius battery and how much energy is consumed in that process?


Donzie and Slowburn keep bringing up easily solved issue or in fact, are not issue at all about electric craft/vehicles.

And they trump up fosssil fuel units that are very polluting and unreliable compared to a well done EV, critical in lifesaving.

There is no reason a solar powered fast electric rescue boat can't run all day long without charging from land. Fact is 98% of the time it doesn't go anywhere as sits on station makes solar power easy, cheap.

I'm doing a 34' solar powered trimaran to live on including A/C in Fla and the PV system only costs $1500 for everything, PV panels 1kw, 3kw inverter and 6kwhr of battery.. That gives me all the home power I need for 20+ yrs or about $80/yr.


We got swamped while sailing in Lake Meade on a 30 foot sailboat back in the '80s that almost resulted in losing the boat's owner when he fell overboard. We remaining on the boat were very happy and relived when a fast powerboat spotted us from way off and came to our rescue. In other words how far and how FAST can a battery powered rescue vehicle travel?

Bennie Harris

Test some in these venues: Hawaii Caribbean Mexico FL Brazil Australia.


Must for consumer & lifeguard use.

Stephen Russell

The cool thing about electric as opposed to combustion is the lack of oxygen required to run. This means we can go underwater like dolphins. If only we didn't require oxygen to run!

Shane Egan

re; jerryd

Propane engined tools are used indoors all the time including the floor polisher where I buy groceries. Some how I don't think very polluting is a defensible description of them.

buy the time you have a battery big enough to give all day use at the power used in rescuing people the boat is no longer fast until you put a bigger motor on it. Then you need a bigger battery...

The days that it is not used a cardboard cutout of a boat is just as useful.


@donzie You might be surprised to know that this website is being read in many countries which can supply green electricity! I live in New Zealand and I am happy we are fortunate to have majority of electrical power supply generated by hydro, wind or geothermal power stations. Some coal powered power stations exist in NZ but no "nucular" power stations. This website might be US based but ideas come around the world!

Henry Van Campa
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