Jawsome fun: the ‘roller coaster on water’
There's a shark in Bermuda's waters. The 17-foot, 1,400lb seabreacher is a semi-submersible watercraft that mimics the predators as they dive in and out of the ocean.
Owner Antwan Albuoy describes it as “a roller coaster on the water”. The entrepreneur is importing the custom-made sea creatures for Kinezumi Adventures, the extreme watersports company he runs with business partner Shena Virgil.
Mr Albuoy has been working for himself since being made redundant in October 2013.
The bad news could have been a kick to his confidence, but it gave him the push he needed.
The former Bank of New York employee started his business, Nuserio Holdings Ltd, in February. The umbrella company accommodates his many ventures, including Twilight Entertainment, a rental company for fun castles, outdoor movie screens and his mobile zip line, and Crave, a concessions vendor.
“I've always been an entrepreneur,” he said. “The fun castle business was up and running for 18 months before I was made redundant. I was always working full-time for a company and doing business on the side, but being made redundant made me do this full-time.”
He discovered the crafts — which have a top speed of 65 miles per hour and can leap 18ft out of the water — online through social media and researched further using video-sharing site YouTube.
“My first thought was that would be a great idea for Bermuda rentals,” he said.
He was not the only one. Since Kinezumi's inception, he has spoken to more than 20 others who have tried to bring them in, but he said he “lucked out big time” after finding private investors. The pair originally planned on bringing them in for 2017, but when the application for another business was turned down, they decided to move fast. He applied to Bermuda Tourism Authority's investment experience and was successful.
“I like taking risks and I like speed,” he told Lifestyle. The pair flew to Redding, California, two weeks ago, to train on the seabreachers, just as their first shark, the Mako, arrived in Bermuda. Two other vessels, a great white and a tiger shark, arrive next month.
“My first time in the boat was as a passenger,” Mr Albuoy said “It was really exciting. It was everything I thought it would be and more.”
But his first time as a pilot was “a little awkward”.
A lot of the driving actions, particularly when using his feet, felt counterintuitive. Drivers must accelerate to make a sharp turn, drawing the left foot forward and the right heel back to turn left.
The vessels have a similar engine to jet skis and the “crafts can turn on a dime”.
Like a classic aircraft, the single passenger sits in back, while the trained pilot operates the craft from the front. Pilots must have both their A and B licences from Bermuda Marine and Ports. The craft can turn over, owing to its hydrodynamic shape, but will automatically right itself. Mr Albuoy said the seabreachers existed on the water in harmony with other vehicles; Marine and Ports insists a safety boat must be close by.
“Another reason why I went after this is because there are about two million jet skis worldwide,” he said. “At the time of me looking into this, there were fewer than 100 seabreachers. This means that 99.9 per cent of our customers will not have seen or experienced seabreachers.”
Mr Albuoy knew the novelty was in line with the BTA's model and that gave him the confidence he needed.
The group will begin taking bookings at the end of this month after training is complete; cruises begin at the end of June.
“People are aching for it to launch,” he said, adding that he met seniors at a boat expo this year who said the experience was on their bucket list.
With a minimum age of 6 to ride, he said it would attract “thrill-seeking adventurers”.
Kinezumi will also offer Jetavators, a flying water bike made by the same company.
“It was only natural to offer both products,” Mr Albuoy said.
GoPro cameras are fixed to the interior and exterior so customers can relive the 20-minute trip at home.
• A 20-minute seabreacher ride costs $169. Group discounts are available. For more details, visit kinezumiadventures.com