Amphibious vehicle makes a splash
A revolutionary amphibious boat has made its debut in Bermuda — thanks to the America’s Cup.
And the Sealegs boat — fitted with wheels to allow it to drive in and out of the water and used by emergency services around the world — has already attracted attention from police and the parks department.
William Mayhew, who owns Carolina Sealegs in North Carolina, visited the island for AC35 and shipped a Sealegs craft to the island for the event.
Mr Mayhew said: “That’s my personal boat, but I am a distributor in the US.”
He added a YouTube video of the boat entering and leaving the water at the America’s Cup village attracted more around 1,000 views on the first day it was posted.
Mr Mayhew said: “To say it got attention would be an understatement.”
Now he is in talks with a potential local partner to market Sealegs boats for use by the emergency services, Government departments, for private use as leisure craft and commercial use.
Mr Mayhew, who returns to the US today, said: “I wanted to bring it down and have my own boat and use — but I haven’t booked a return for it at this point. I thought it would be silly to send it home immediately.”
Mr Mayhew’s 22-foot rigid inflatable boat is powered by a 150-horsepower outboard on the water and a 22-horsepower engine using its wheels.
Advantages include being able to run it off a ramp or a beach on wheels straight into the water, where the wheels are retracted, allowing itto perform like any other high-speed RIB.
Sealegs technology, developed by a New Zealand company 12 years ago, is used by emergency services in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand.
Mr Mayhew said that he had circumnavigated Bermuda in just one hour, 48 minutes and used 39 litres of fuel.
He added that one Australian fire service which uses the boat for rescue work estimated they could be on the water 15 minutes faster than using a conventional trailered craft.
Mr Mayhew said: “In Malaysia, they have started an entire programme using them. People can use them during floods, hurricanes and one of the prime uses is surf rescue.”
And he added: “Twenty-three more boats have been ordered in Malaysia, where they’re used in flooding rescue and as patrol boats.”
He explained the boats, which have conventional decks, were a better option than jet skis for beach rescue, as people could be treated on board and several people could be carried.
Mr Mayhew said: “There is enough room to rescue a person, perform CPR and carry multiple people — and with Sealegs you can launch that boat very quickly.”
He added: “One of the benefits of these boats is they have to be so strong to drive on land, so once the legs are folded up, they are very strong.”
Sealegs operates from its factory and offices in Albany, Auckland.
The company makes both amphibious craft and amphibious enablement kits, which boatbuilders have used with specially adapted hulls to make their boats amphibious.
Sealegs has built a total of 1,250 amphibious craft which operate in more than 55 countries around the world.