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Wokart: The 70 km/h go-kart for the water

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December 8, 2013

The Wokart  (Photo: Wokart)

The Wokart (Photo: Wokart)

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The Wokart is a featherweight asymmetric catamaran with a centrally-located 70 hp outboard motor that's designed to have the driving characteristics and low power-to-weight of a go-kart.

The automotive seating and controls make it just like driving a car ... and in four years of development and testing, no-one has flipped one over. It promises all the fun of a PWC with a fraction of the environmental footprint and production is set to begin in January 2014 and at EUR20,000 (approximately US$27,400). Unlike most toys, a horsepower upgrade is as simple as bolting in a larger 85 hp motor, which makes it "unsuitable for the general public", a nice way of saying, "you can't handle this."

The Wokart is the latest of a plethora of new watercraft designs that have emerged in recent years that are well outside the realms of traditional naval architecture – from floating islands to floating cities through to a range of water toys such as the Flyboard, Jetovator, Jetlev, Samba, Seabreacher, Subwing, hydrofoil designs such as the Quadrofoil, Wfoil, and even towables such as the Manta Ray and KiteTube.

Indeed, Wokart designer Dr. Theo Christen delights in regaling tales of "boaties" across the world identifying him as a marine "outsider" based on the simple premise that if he were an insider, constrained by traditional marine design thinking, he couldn't have come up with the concept in the first place.

From the first time he showed his design to an established naval architect, to the crowd reaction when the Wokart was first displayed at the Stockholm Boat Show, Christen's Wokart has been greeted with astonishment and invariably, disbelief that an outsider could have conceived something like the Wokart.

The EUR20,000 (US$26,200) Wokart was conceived as a go-kart for the water  (Photo: Wokart)

The Wokart enters production at CMI in Thailand next month, completing a remarkable journey for Christen whose PhD is in Economics, not the academic discipline one might expect of the creator of such a promising new marine design.

Christen has offered Gizmag a drive in the Wokart which we'll be taking up as soon as possible, but here's what we know right now.

The Wokart is powered by a centrally-located 70 hp outboard motor, giving it similar performance and handling characteristics to a go-kart on the water. Top speed is beyond 40+ knots (75 km/h or 46 mph) and with an 85 hp motor it's beyond spectacular.

Each of the three Wokart partners I have spoken with have raved about the speed and agility of the aquatic go-kart, and its ability to instantly turn through 90 degrees at high speed.

A shot from behind the Wokart showing how the outboard motor is centrally-located (Photo: ...

Where Wokart might really hit the jackpot is that the design uses a modest 70 hp outboard of any manufacture (the EUR20,000 price does not include the outboard motor) this means it will be much more environmentally friendly than a PWC if you use a modern four-stroke power unit and potentially as quick if you use something like Torqeedo's Deep Blue electric outboard which is designed to replace a 75 hp traditional outboard.

Interestingly, in discussions with Wokart designer Dr. Theo Christen, I asked if a carbon fiber version had been considered, and whilst he acknowledged it had been, he said there would be a lot of testing involved because they had gone to a great deal of trouble to get the weight right, and lightening the Wokart might compromise its turning abilities. So the jury is out on the benefits of adding an electric outboard such as Deep Blue and its 55 pound battery pack.

Regardless, because it is technically an outboard watercraft, it can go places where jet-powered Personal Water Craft such as Kawasaki's Jet Ski and similar machinery from Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Honda cannot.

Finally, we all know that hitting waves at speed can be very jarring to the body, particularly if that shock is transmitted directly up the spine because you are sitting down. That was one of the few downsides of the Seabreacher we tested a few months ago.

I asked Christen about this and he said that between the drawings and the first prototype, he had expected to fit a sprung seat to avoid this spinal compression, but that there's something about the centrally located outboard that acts as a shock absorber and once the first prototype was in the water, they found that it didn't require the sprung seat.

So there you have it – yet another radical new marine design challenging years of convention.

Stay tuned for an upcoming evaluation.

Product page: Wokart



About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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18 Comments

27G and I have to buy an outboard motor for another 7G? I think I'll pass, 34G for a single seat watercraft is a bit much.

Douglas Renfro
9th December, 2013 @ 01:34 am PST

Great looking toy.

Of course just because it is allowed places no "jetski" is doesn't mean that people need to use any less care, that prop below the water coun make mince meat of swimmers in the playground.

When I first saw it my mind went to cool DIY toys of the 70's and 80's, one was a mini motor cat with a transom mounted 35HP outboard..

This is along a similar vein, with modern higher output motor, and as the craft is longer, the hulls extend aft beyond the (effective) transom, giving the skegs a lot more bight under all power-on manoeuvres.

New Idea, I really liken it to an evolution.. Maybe a revolutionary one, but time will tell..

If the outboard were fitted with a jet shroud, it would be a lot safer, with less bottom strike seriousness. But we can't have everything 9i acknowledge that for top end speed (not its design specs) a prop is more efficient.

MD
9th December, 2013 @ 02:15 am PST

Seems perfectly symmetrical from the photos. Am I missing something?

Robt
9th December, 2013 @ 02:15 am PST

I'm not sure I get it. Personal Watercraft now can hit 80 mph in seconds, turn on a dime (hard enough to throw you off) seat 2 or more, and do it in inches of water. While taking the bumps with your legs... Not sure I would opt for this instead.

DLK811
9th December, 2013 @ 03:42 am PST

I don't think anyone "gets" it. We got over 80 KPH (one on board) in a 14ft deep V Checkmate with 60 HP at the flywheel in the 1970s.

This is a tunnel hull (well known old tech) with too much superstructure. Further, with a "centrally located" engine and the driver located ahead, it is nose-heavy and keeps too much hull in the water so low performance.

Tunnels are supposed to be air entrapment hulls. Because the deck does not extend completely to the stern, it has no lift. 70HP (prop shaft) should be doing about 110KPH. At over 30 grand, the prof needs to review his economics model.

Grumpyrelic
9th December, 2013 @ 04:57 am PST

Hope the Dr. is earning lots with his day job because the day this goes into production his finances are heading south. Watching the video the captain looked to be out of control 80% of the time, not to mention slow! On a scale of 1 to 10 ........ -5

Rehab
9th December, 2013 @ 08:16 am PST

There are no advantages over a Jet-ski and for 27K plus a motor, I would buy a real boat!

uksurf
9th December, 2013 @ 10:20 am PST

It's been done far better 5 decades ago!! And for much less money.

Why so much power as we only needed 25hp to do the same back then, 70's, just before PWC's came out, these were common..

Cypress Gardens Fla used them in their water clown act they did jumps, ski, went over land, etc in, called Flippers IIRC.

jerryd
9th December, 2013 @ 10:29 am PST

At 27 K$, good luck...

equator180
9th December, 2013 @ 11:59 am PST

I completely agree with most posters- ridiculous money- far more dangerous than a PWC and nowhere near as fast or fun for your cash outlay. and where can it go that a PWC cant? only where environmentalists have banned 2 stroke. Try parking it on a beach and judging by the pedestrian video I am sure flipping it will not be a problem unless it has some extra NCC 1701 technology not mentioned. I suspect the "rave reviews" were elicited in some sort of gratuity method.

Neil Richard Parkinson
9th December, 2013 @ 12:42 pm PST

When they showed footage from the onboard minicam the water was like glass - they didn't show anything in choppy water from that angle. I was watching the pilot and he was getting bounced around pretty hard. If he hit a wave head-on it would cause the nose to go under and flip the thing on top of him. Why not put hydrofoils on either side and ride up our of the water? Humbug!

dsiple
9th December, 2013 @ 01:12 pm PST

I hope this toy does not become responsible for any more needless assaults on our environment and the precious marine mammals with whom we share this planet.

Ed temple
9th December, 2013 @ 02:53 pm PST

Add another 2, 3 seats to this or make motorcycle style

Must for Hawaii area,Mexico & Caribbean.

Stephen N Russell
9th December, 2013 @ 05:19 pm PST

look up "zego" as a much better alternative

stan pisarek
9th December, 2013 @ 06:21 pm PST

So he made a small hydroplane, where is the news in that?

Michaelc
9th December, 2013 @ 08:43 pm PST

Yep, I can't see what this has over a regular jetski or PWC. Certainly nothing notable in terms of going where a PWC can't or having a smaller environmental footprint. Please explain .

I guess it has to be better than that darn Suzuki Wetbike, eh Mike ?

Martin Hone
9th December, 2013 @ 11:01 pm PST

If you are going to test it in choppy water at its top speed I hope you will provide the Gizmag tester with some of the latest head protective gear and flotatio aids - just in case

myale
10th December, 2013 @ 08:16 am PST

Another annoying toy to allow non-nautical types the chance to buzz me while I'm at anchor in a REAL boat. Spend some time around the marina businesses and see how many of these toys sit rotting in neglected yards and sheds. You're better off putting your money in a penny stock.

Jim Cochran
10th December, 2013 @ 02:28 pm PST
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