A team from Calvin College, Michigan, is trying to put the "ski" back in "jet ski" with a unique kind of personal watercraft (PWC) that features three skis, a tilting front suspension system and a 650cc engine. Inspired by the dual-ski Wetbike of the 1970s and 80s, and perhaps a little by the bizarre Watercross racing movement, the Jet Blade team has completed prototyping and preliminary water testing.
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.
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.
There are four Amphicars heading to auction during the rare car silly season in January, the most that have gone to auction at the same time for at least a decade and possibly for much longer. The big question is how much they will fetch. They sold new for between US$2800 and $3300 between 1962 and 1967, and in 2011, one of the highly-prized German amphibious cars sold for $123,400. Gizmag has analyzed all 54 Amphicar sales of the last decade in order to make some sense of the market.
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.
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!
The Sea-Doo Spark
is by far the cheapest and least powerful jet ski you can buy. It's also much, much lighter than its competition, giving it a competitive power to weight ratio and some unique handling abilities. And it burns just over a tenth of the fuel the big boys do. Loz Blain and Noel McKeegan take it for a spin.
The PWC market has been in decline for a number of years, possibly because jet skis have become so gigantic, powerful, expensive and fuel hungry
that they've stopped appealing to younger folk. Sea-Doo is starting to turn that around, though, with the release of the Spark. Half the price, half the weight and half the power of a regular midrange jet ski, the Spark delivers 90 percent of the fun of a more expensive PWC in a way that's much more accessible and attractive to newcomers … and burns nearly ten times less fuel than the big boys. If it's newbies the Spark is hoping to attract, then we've got a total newbie on the team to test it. The completely inexperienced Loz Blain and the moderately experienced Noel McKeegan take to the water to see how she goes. Rejoice, dear readers, that Loz didn't fit into a wetsuit, and is thus not depicted in skin tight clothing.
Seven years ago, Gizmag's Mike Hanlon made a bold prediction: the 400-horsepower PWC cometh
. With Benelli's top of the line V6 jet ski smashing out some 342 horsepower, and a series of supercharged Hondas, Sea-Doos, MV Agustas and Kawasakis nipping at its heels, it seemed a horsepower war was brewing. But in the aftermath of 2008's global financial system collapse, it seems things have gone back to slightly more sensible levels. We say *more* sensible, because Benelli has just rebranded its PWC business as Belassi and built a brand new, turbocharged engine pounding out 315 horses to take the mantle of the world's current reigning production PWC horsepower champion. It's not the 400-horsepower beast that Mike feared, but it still looks like a heck of a fun way to burn petrol.
Jet Skis are certainly able to squeeze into narrow waterways, although you probably wouldn't feel comfortable scraping one's hull against a rocky riverbed. Steel-hulled jet boats are considerably tougher than Jet Skis, but they're not nearly as nimble. Alaska-based Mackinnon Marine Technologies' AlumaSki, however, attempts to combine the best of both worlds. It has the form factor of a personal watercraft, along with a one-piece quarter-inch-thick aluminum hull.