We see this as a great movement forward for our sport for a couple of reasons. But before we get to that, we do have to bring up a point that Rykert brought up on the Lake of Sin blag, that being in the video associated with the boat, they are playing music almost the entire time! Its an electric boat! Its silent!
Good lord, let the boat speak, or not speak as the case may be, for itself!! There is no marketing clutter to get through, there is no artistic theme you have to promote, let the product speak for itself, and it speaks awfully loud!
Now, lets dive into why this is a great movement forward for our sport. Yes, more so then long jumpers, or GPS cruise controls, or bracket slalom tournaments, or the exploding cost of boats, its a huge movement for our sport because of:
1) The cost of gasoline.
We make no bones about the fact that we don't really have a real big green ideal in our heads. We believe that in a market driven economy the checks and balances of said economy will prove to be either a market driving force, pushing whatever ever product forward, or backwards.
Meaning, it really makes no difference to us about the greenhouse gases, global warming, etc etc, what we do know is that gas is really expensive, and its a huge punch in the bank account to fill up a boat with gas for a day of skiing. Not only a day of skiing, but, you keep adding those days up, make a summer out of it, make a life out of it and good lord that gets expensive.
Where one of us lives a gallon of premium unleaded is about $3.25. The CRB Skimasterbu has a 40 gallon tank so, by our math thats like 85 dollars to fill up the tank. Ouch. Not to mention The Krista did a sexy photoshoot for Radar and we had to pick up a new pair of bindings...so, that puts our daily outlay of cash well into the 90s.
Anything we can do to save money to further our ability to get our butts wet we will look into.
2) Electric boats are silent.
This, combined with lake associations, government orgs, etc, cracking down on skiiers for their wakes is a legit issue in the waterski world, no? Look, we all don't have access to a private lake, cable park, what have you. Most of us all are normal types who need to use the public waterways to wake surf before going to work.
Now, the wake part of the equation is a matter of physics, but, at the CRB compound we have got complaints before from our neighbors about firing up our boat in the wee hours of the night and tearing around the lake. These complaints? Valid.
However, the early morning ski set, or weekend set, or evening sesh are irritating for the people around us. We get that, we don't like Eric the nosy neighbor to mow his god damn lawn at 9 AM on Sunday morning while we work on our fiber optic sailboat in a ship project...while nursing a hangover.
It goes both ways, and when you are a sport that seems to not have as much traction with the general public, or maybe its viewed as an elitist sport that isn't as necessary to our culture as fishing, or eating at Hooters or driving a Toyota, whatever we can do to eliminate those complaints so we can focus on the important things should be seen as a good think no?
Besides, have you heard the new Black Keys album? We love us some Black Keys and its way easier to hear that while exploding around the 4-ball with no engine noise.
"Baby im howlin for you"
/faceplant into buoy
*face melting guitar riff*
3) Electric motors have torque for weeks.
Unlike regular internal combustion engines, electric motors (battery packs, etc) really don't need time to spool up to get you the juice you need to go weekend wally on your combo skis. They are full boost from the start, ready to go RIGHT NOW! Like your horny cousin who may or may not be eying up your couch with sinister intentions.
Think of a remote control car from when you were little, unless you are to young to remember that sort of thing, but, remote control cars were something, one of the things we did with our friends, outdoors. No, it wasn't on x-box. You would actually put your pants on and go play outdoors, sometimes it was cold too! But it was fun.
Anyways, those little buggers would freaking HAUL ASS right away, you push the little stick thing up and BOOM! Right into your parents legs!
Basically, thats what an electric motor is, instant torque. Getting our fat ass's out of the water with the quickness and (hopefully) maintaining that through the slalom course, or jump course or wake board (course? area? length of lake?), whatever....you go NOW!
Nautique is not the first company to have an electric boat, Epic boats also has a wakeboard specific boat that is powered by electricity as well, and if the Nautique is anything like it, this only re-inforces the torque thing. From Autoblog Green.
It relies on a liquid-cooled brushless DC motor capable of pumping out 268 horsepower and 664 pound feet of torque for forward motion and can attain a top speed of about 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). Not bad considering it weighs in at 3,798 pounds.Thats hella power. If you have ever been in a diesel truck, you know that those things can tow houses around. In fact, if you ever want to play a really good joke on someone, just tie their house to a diesel truck and move their house like, out into the street. The look on their face when they get home, oh, its priceless.
4) Room for improvement.
A straight plug-in boat is pretty awesome, but, there is the issue of finding places to charge your boat while on the water, the weight of the battery packs and the complexity of the system which equals cost.
But, take for example, a system like Chevy uses with the Volt, with a small multiple fuel source motor used to charge the battery packs. This is a pretty good idea. Say you have a canister of natural gas up front to power a little motor in case you are out all day and burn out your battery? Boom fire up the little bugger and recharge yo-self.
But, more specifically, the Nautiques and the Epics and the Mastercrafts and whomever don't have the economy of scale that someone the scope of GM has to perfect and further this technology.
There are many smaller companies making tremendous strides in this area, look at Neil Youngs lincvolt project and all it takes is someone with money to feed the people with the ideas to make them work, make them become mainstream and make them viable.
Maybe they do, who are we to say otherwise, but, we can't imagine a waterski boat company having the resources to dedicate into something like this. The capital expenditure to make a viable solution that is their own, a vertical integration of the electric propulsion system seems like a stretch.
But, going back to one of our first ideas, the market place dictates things...companies that specialize in this sort of thing should be lining up to partner up and work with boat companies to make this a reality.
Smaller companies can co-op ideas from Nissan or Chevy or Lincvolt and incoporate that into what they are doing, a cycle that makes us all happy and hopefully allows us to spend less money to actually ski and in the end isn't that the point?
While the electric boat, propulsion system is awesome and can hopefully lead a game changing type shift in our consumption habits, its really just the tip of the iceberg no?
Look, we can do all sorts of things to help keep the electric boat system powered up, form the Volt style mini motor to keep it charged, to solar panels on the boat, to paddle style in-water regenerative braking systems, i.e, paddle wheels under the boat that spin when the boat is moving to recharge batteries...etc.
But, we can even look further. When thinking about a regenerative system for the batteries we pondered using algea, or seaweed remnants or whatever crud is in the water to help burn and make energy.
Just spit-balling here, but, don't you think there would be a way to harness the power that is allready in a big pile of water? There has to be something in lakes that can be used as fuel. It would require an amazing amount of technology to efficiently and quickly make enough power to run a boat. Fish poop? That green crap that floats around in the water? Who knows, but, its gross so we should burn it so we can ski.
Some while ago we heard that, we think, Apple was looking into wireless power cords for computers...i.e, something plugged into a wall socket, something to your computer to power it, but, there was no cord...wireless electricity.
This may be some sort of hallucination or pipe dream, but, if wireless electricity was feasible in a bite size package like a boat, imagine what could be done! Lakes set up with wireless electricity, and you just tap into the network and you are off and running. Your boat would be simply a receptacle for the power, no need for battery packs, or anything, just a converter, a propeller and some beer.
Think of how far we have come in terms of technology since the dawn of Al Gores internet age, what we consume and how we consume it has changed dramatically and its all a blur to keep up with it. Sort of. Most of the changes are simply new paint on a shitty old car, but, some of it pushes things forward and makes life more interesting and increases what we feel is possible.
What does this really come down to, when you boil everything down to its core, its about money right? In pretty much everything we do we are driven by money. Not everything, no, you ride your bike or have a beer or have relationships or eat chicken wings, because, its good...its good for you, its good for your soul and you enjoy it.
But, if chicken wings cost 40 dollars a wing, we would probably just have the cheeseburger. If having riding your bike was 50 dollars per 100 feet, you may just walk.
Money does really drive what we do...we do what we enjoy within the bounds of what is affordable and reasonable given our individual circumstances.
Electric boats, hybrid boats and whatever future propulsion technology comes down the road will be driven by money. Can the companies afford to develop a viable solution, can we as consumers afford to purchase said product, etc.
We don't think that it really comes down to it that we are overly concerned with greenhouse gasses, but, we are concerned with the quality of the lakes we ski in, so we want efficient boats. We are concerned about the water we drink, so we want things disposed of correctly, we want what we want because of how it directly effects us and then secondarily affects others...that may be a big leap, but, we don't think its that far off.
We live in a society that is driven by money, how much it costs and how much does it cost me to maintain a lifestyle that I enjoy...can I continue what I am doing? With gas prices what they are, that is a valid question and companies have taken that challenge to try and do something about it.
Will these boats be something that the average person can actually afford? That remains to be seen, but, as we move forward in life, the pressures to further that advancement will, we think, become stronger as the ancillary costs of skiing rise. We think the market will push companies to develop alternative sources for power, it will correct itself in the proper way and with as much ability and technology at our disposal it will be something exciting to see. When companies see an avenue for profit, driven by whatever market factors are at work, it is all the incentive needed to get after it. If it happens to be green so be it, but, at the end of the day, we want to ski however we get to do that doesn't matter. Lets just get wet and the rest will sort it self out.