Vessev’s electric foiling ferry showcases seakeeping capabilities in initial trials

electric foiling boat with Auckland in the background

Vessev has completed the initial testing phase of its first VS-9 vessel. Since launching its 9-metre electric hydrofoiling vessel in Auckland Westhaven marina on 10 May, 24 testing sessions have been completed. 

Eric Laakmann, Vessev CEO and former Apple Watch engineering program lead, says: “We have been pushing the VS-9 less than two weeks after its first flight, and she has been ticking all the boxes and more.” 

Vessev attributes its performance to the advancing foiling technology and techniques used by America’s Cup teams. These techniques enable the electric hydrofoil vessel to ‘fly’ above the water, reducing wake and resulting in a smoother ride.

“We use high-precision flaps that change shape below the water to optimise the angle of attack,” says Max Olson, Vessev founder and CTO. “The flaps can move end to end in less than half a second, maintaining an incredibly stable platform.”

The firm says that the foiling capability creates a significant advantage over conventional vessels in terms of its ability to handle more challenging sea states. Early testing has showcased the VS-9’s seakeeping capabilities, whereby some of the wind conditions ranged from 25 to 35 knots with corresponding waves. 

Laakman highlights the potential impact of the technology on ferry operations: “In our local area in New Zealand, there are some ferry routes which are often cancelled due to weather. These are routes which have more exposure to wind and waves. The VS-18, and vessels like it, will be able to ride above the waves and deliver a more consistent and pleasant service than what exists today.” 

Designed to carry ten passengers at a service speed of 25 knots with a range of 50 nautical miles, the VS-9 is poised for certification from New Zealand Maritime this year. The first vessels are planned to supplement the existing ferry fleet, with Vessev collaborating closely with New Zealand ferry operator Fullers360 and its NetZero Maritime decarbonisation team to ensure the vessel meets commercial and tourism transport requirements. 

Following the testing phase, the final outfitting, including a cabin and interior, will be added to the vessel in July before its relaunch in August.

Beyond commercial applications, Vessev has also gained interest from the recreational market. “I am anticipating that we will be announcing several variations of the VS-9 sooner rather than later,” adds Laakmann. 

Looking ahead, Vessev hopes to scale up to larger foiling vessels, including the planned VS-18, which will accommodate up to 100 passengers. Candela also has eyes for the ferry foiling market. Lake Manapōuri will be getting a high-tech upgrade with an electric hydrofoiling ferry, the Candela P-12, there in 2025.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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