Any millionaire can buy themselves a fancy yacht, but if you want a conversation piece ... well, it helps if it has a story behind it, and the Lockheed Martin-built Sea Slice certainly does. Launched in 1996 by the US Navy as a military support vessel, the experimental watercraft features a unique hull design that reportedly allows it to remain as stable as a conventional ship three times its size. It cost US$15 million to design and build, but you can have it now for the low, low price of just $180,000.
Tucked away in one of the most distant corners of last week's Boot Düsseldorf show was one of the show's most interesting products: the ultra-versatile Klepper Backyak. As its name suggests, it's a kayak that can hike to water's edge on your back. But it's also a sailboat, a snow sled and a floating sun deck.
It may be bitingly chilly and damp in Northern Germany right now, but that didn't stop the region's attention from turning to blue skies and bluer seas. Gizmag caught the tail end of this year's Boot Düsseldorf boat show
and found a host of impressive new boats, personal watercraft and ocean toys. We bring you inside the show in our photo gallery tour.
Most of the electric boats we saw at the Düsseldorf boat show this past weekend were small, slow cruisers designed to putter around waterways with combustion engine bans. One boat stepped well beyond that model, though. Still under development, the all-new NOX SV promises speeds up to 75 mph (120 km/h) from a highly capable 225-hp (168-kW) electric motor. The boat packs that cutting edge drivetrain into a classic mahogany hull with a D-Type-like racing fin thrown in for good measure.
Once the domain of a select few products like the Powerski Jetboard
, the powered surfboard market has really grown over the past year. During that time, we've seen the underwhelming Waterwolf
, the promising, multi-personality Aquila
, and the Radinn
surfboards. The German-designed Lampuga joins the crowd, bringing with it speeds up to 34 mph (55 km/h) and claims of being the world's fastest e-surfboard.
In 2013, Norway's Lade AS unveiled designs for Vindskip
, a "hybrid" merchant ship which aims to harness the wind courtesy of a specially-shaped hull, in the process taking the burden off of its natural-gas powered engines and saving fuel. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute's Center for Maritime Logistics and Services (CML) have been working to help realize this goal by developing an algorithm that will allow the Vindskip's navigation system to use the combination of power and sail at its most economical.
In the 1960s, engineers predicted that manned outposts would be built on the bottom of the sea housing hundreds of workers to handle complex tasks like exploiting deep sea oil and natural gas fields. In the 21st century, those outposts are becoming a reality, but as unmanned robotic platforms that are rarely visited by humans. To show how these will be built and operated, GE has created a 3D virtual exhibit for its new research center in Rio de Janeiro.
We looked at 2014's coolest land toys
earlier this month; now we leave the shore in our wake and head out to sea. The year in water toys kicked off in a big way at Boot Düsseldorf 2014
in January and it ran strong the year through. In fact, we'd say the past year saw reveals and market launches of some of the coolest water toys in recent history ... everything from transforming boats, to seven-figure personal submarines to underwater jet packs.
Paddlesports are a great workout for the upper body, but as far as the legs go – not so much. In the case of sit-down watercraft like kayaks, that situation can be addressed by adding pedals
. For stand-up paddleboards, however ... well, it's hard to picture how pedals could be integrated. That's why the designers of the PeleBoard have taken their own approach to leg-powered paddleboarding, with a carbon fiber board that's split lengthwise down the middle.
New thought propagates at the speed of light in the digital age, and there was no greater testimony to this than the World Flyboard Cup held in Dubai last weekend. Frankie Zapata conceived the Flyboard in Spring 2011, rapidly prototyped and developed the sub-$10,000 PWC attachment inside a few weeks and last week saw the third
running of the world championship. The 86 competitors were selected via video from 29 countries and our photo essay leaves little doubt as to the expertise that has been achieved in this brand new extreme sport over just three years. Bravo!