Lake show­stop­per de­fies grav­ity

Two peo­ple plunged un­der the wa­ter at 60kmh, then hurled into the air

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By FAIR­FAX NEWS

A New Zealand de­signer is mak­ing waves with a jet­boat hy­brid that steers like a plane but leaps out of the wa­ter and breaches like a whale. The Seabreacher is al­ready be­ing op­er­ated as a tourist ac­tiv­ity in Queen­stown and has been ap­proved by mar­itime au­thor­i­ties here and in Aus­tralia. It is also be­gin­ning to take bites in the mar­ket else­where. Cur­rently, Queen­stown’s Hy­dro At­tack claims to be the only place in the world to of­fer com­mer­cial tours of the ve­hi­cle, launched by lo­cals David Lynott, Lee Ex­cell and Oliver O’Neill with de­signer Rob Innes’ sup­port last year. Hy­dro At­tack is also the of­fi­cial dis­trib­u­tor for Seabreacher in New Zealand. It is cer­ti­fied by Mar­itime New Zealand and Mar­itime Aus­tralia as a re­cre­ational wa­ter­craft. The ma­chine could be de­scribed as a fast-plan­ing race­boat, or al­ter­nately as a fully sealed jet­skiengined sea mis­sile that can plunge two peo­ple un­der the wa­ter at 60kmh and then hurl them into the sky. Liv­er­ied as a killer whale or in newer it­er­a­tions as a me­tal­lic shark, it’s a re­cre­ational show­stop­per that not only de­fies de­scrip­tion, but also grav­ity and ba­sic nau­ti­cal con­ven­tions. New Zealand-born, US-based de­signer Mr Innes de­scribes the Seabreacher as a ‘‘cus­tom-de­signed hot rod for the wa­ter’’. To prove his point, he hauls him­self into the killer whale-liv­er­ied ‘‘Y’’ model with its 260 horse­power (194kW) su­per­charged en­gine, roars away, ex­e­cutes a dive and leaps so high that for a mo­ment no part of the 5.2-me­tre, 658kg craft is touch­ing the lake. Mr Innes and busi­ness part­ner Dan Pi­azza are keenly in­volved in hot rods and per­for­mance boat rac­ing. The hand-crafted Seabreach­ers are made in their North­ern Cal­i­for­nian head­quar­ters. Each Seabreacher, cus­tom­sculpted in fi­bre­glass and Kevlar and fit­ted with a pneu­mat­i­cally sealed fighter jet-style poly­car­bon­ate canopy, takes three months to build and costs up­wards of NZ$77.800. It has three axes of con­trol, like a plane. Yaw is con­trolled by the driver’s legs, roll de­ter­mined by hand levers, and pitch set by point­ing or flex­ing feet held into bind­ings on the ped­als. The Seabreacher is legally cat­e­gorised as an in­board power­boat. It draws air for its three-cylin­der, 1500cc four-stroke Ro­tax jet-ski en­gine – and for its oc­cu­pants – via a snorkel mounted be­hind the dor­sal fin. Pos­i­tive buoy­ancy means no mat­ter how you dive, roll or land - and Mr Innes says he’s done all that and more in test­ing – it will end up­right.

Photo: GRANT BRYANT/FAIR­FAX NZ 628662591

Fish out of wa­ter: Ol­lie O’Neill, left, and David Lynott are co-own­ers of Lake Wakatipu’s lat­est tourist at­trac­tion, the Hy­dro At­tack.

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