Rowing shells are among the fastest human powered boats, and there are some two hundred US colleges that have rowing teams. When racing, a large men’s 8 rowing shell can go about 13.8 mph. This is Olympians. Normal club rowing is about 11.5 mph.
I have a company called Leribe that is focused on the US rowing market. We sell racing boats and systems for racing events. We offer boats for this market. The Wavewalks serve two specific needs:
Coaching launch: The S4 model coupled with an 8 HP outboard motor is perfect for this application, which requires a boat that produces a minimal wake. The S4 is being used as a coaches launch for training and also an officials “chase boat” for regatta racing. There was a lot of experimenting with motors in a number of water conditions but we have settled on the need for an 8hp motor.
Regatta Start: During racing there are usually 6 platforms that are anchored at the start and a person on these hold and adjust the racing boats prior to the start. The Wavewalk 500 R is a great option for these. Each regatta needs 6-8 of these boats. The 500R’s are being used as stationary platforms for racing. An unconventional use undoubtedly. The key item here is that a person sits in each boat and then for each race the crew that is assigned the lane backs into the 500R and the person uses the split between the pontoons to align the bows of each boat to the starting line. As each racing boat may be a different length there is an official that uses radios and will tell each of the 6 500Rs to move their boat in or out until perfect alignment is achieved. Then the race may begin. This is repeated for each race on between 3 and 10 minute centers. It is a unique use of the W500 R but it’s working.
We wanted to show the Wavewalk S4 going in rough water, but since we couldn’t find water that was choppy enough in Key Largo, we made our own chop 😀 Larry drove his commercial fishing boat, the Line Dancer, Orit sat at the stern and shot video with our new Nikon camera equipped with a X83 optical zoom lens (great camera), and I drove an S4 in the boat’s wake.
The Line Dancer’s wake was V shaped, with pronounced “ridges” of waves and turbulence on both sides, and a quieter area in between. When we went in open areas where the tidal current and wind created natural chop, adding the boat’s wake on top generated pretty hectic conditions that were a bit challenging to drive through, mainly because the motor on my S4 was a little 3.5 HP that didn’t allow for much planing and playing. This application calls for a more powerful motor, and a 6 HP outboard would have probably yielded more spectacular action shots. But at least we were able to demonstrate the principle… When we drove in quieter zones, I just surfed the Line Dancer’s wake, and that was easy and fun.
What’s the real-world advantage of the S4’s ability to go through fast currents and chop? “Real World” usually means you have to go from point A to point B, and you’re not just looking for some driving action fun. This can happen when you use the S4 as a tender for a bigger boat, or yacht, or when you drive in fast rivers that are swollen by water from melting snow in spring, or by tidal currents in coastal areas. Jon boats and skiffs don’t excel in such conditions, to say the least, and inflatable dinghies are neither the most comfortable nor the most reliable choice. But the S4 shines in the chop, not just due to its natural, physical, “catamaran” stability, but also because it offers the driver to ride a saddle seat similar to the seat that other high performance vehicles feature, such as personal watercraft (PWC a.k.a. “jet ski”), all-terrain vehicles (ATV), snowmobiles, and dirt bikes.
Jack, a middle aged owner of a motorized S4 from Texas writes -“Love to jump the wakes of jet skis and other boats.” Anyone who owns a Wavewalk would immediately understand what Jack is talking about, and identify with him, but other kayakers, canoeists and people who fish out of Jon boats, dinghies and skiffs would probably raise an eyebrow when they read this sentence –
For people who go in small watercraft and fish from them, a wake is a series of fast moving waves created in the water by the passage of a fast motorboat, and it is a threat. Kayakers hate wakes, and canoeists dread them, because a wake hitting their unstable vessel on its broadside can capsize it. But even passengers on board bigger and most stable boats, such as dinghies, skiffs and Jon boats, are not big fan of wakes, to say the least, and they would not associate wakes with fun. Although wakes are typically not powerful enough to capsize a good size Jon boat or skiff, a wake suddenly hitting such a boat on its broadside is enough to destabilize passengers who stand in it, or on its deck, if they are unprepared for the sudden sideways tilt induced by the wake. And losing your balance in such a small boat can mean that you’d go overboard, or worse – capsize your boat, frequently as a result of your abrupt change in position causing another another passenger on board to lose their balance, in a chain reaction…
It is easy to destabilize a person standing on the deck of a Jon boat, or a skiff, but it is almost impossible to destabilize a person standing in a Wavewalk S4, with a leg in each hull. Why is that? It’s because a person standing this way in their S4 and momentarily losing their stability would simply drop on the S4’s saddle, to the lower Riding posture, which is the same position in which people driving a personal watercraft (a.k.a. “jet-ski”) drive their fast ride, or by extension, the same position offered by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and snowmobiles.
All these vehicles, namely Wavewalks, PWC, ATV and snowmobiles are the most stable in their domains, and for their size, and they all offer similar saddle seats and riding postures to their users. There is no coincidence here, since the riding posture they offer is similar to the riding posture on horses and motorcycles, and it is naturally stable, namely that a person riding with a leg on each side of the saddle has the full ability to react intuitively, instantly, and most effectively to any change, and thus balance themselves in the most efficient way.
To put it clearly – a motorcycle is a vehicle with no stability it itself whatsoever. It you try to make a motorcycle stand without a person driving and balancing it, or without a mechanical support such as a metal leg or a wall, it would always fall on its side. But give that motorcycle a driver who rides its saddle, and it could go over the roughest terrain, and at high speed. This is to say that all the stability perceived in a moving motorcycle comes from its driver, and only from them, and it is the result of ability to balance themselves effectively while riding their vehicle’s saddle.
In comparison, a Wavewalk kayak offers the same balancing capability, plus its own stability as a twin-hull boat, namely a catamaran.
We shot this video in Westport Point and Horseneck Beach, two locations in Westport, on the southern coast of Massachusetts. Driving the S4 with the 6 HP Tohatsu outboard is exhilarating – fun beyond belief, regardless of what you do. The boat handles very easily, and inspires confidence at high speed and when going through other boats’ wakes. Based on our tests, we can say that experienced drivers can drive it with a more powerful motor.