Longing for a cheap and easily transportable personal watercraft Jason Woods took matters into his own hands. He set about designing a jet-powered body board, light enough to carry under your arm, small enough to fit in the trunk of a compact sedan, and efficient enough to enjoy all day without breaking the bank. Although the first three prototypes ended up at the bottom of a lake, the young garage designer persisted. Three years on his dream has become a reality – introducing the Kymera jetboard.
The idea came about in 2004 when the water-sports-loving Woods found the upkeep and transport of his 1960's era ski boat impractical. He was frustrated with having to own a gas guzzling truck to move his ski boat around, and then once on the water his leisure time was running at 5 miles per gallon.
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“After selling my boat and truck I purchased a sensible sport compact to save some money,” Woods said. “Missing the water I drove to the lake one summer day and sat by the shore and realized there were ten times more people on shore milling about than there were out having fun on the water.”
He realized that there were two groups at his local lake; those who can afford the big boat and big car to tow the hefty things around, and those who can't so just stand on the bank and watch. Bridging this gap became his inspiration.
“I really wanted to create a personal watercraft that had all the fun and none of the hassle of jet skis or boats,” Woods told Gizmag. “My specific goals were that it would have to easily fit in or on a compact car, it would have to be safe, it must be easily hand carried and launched anywhere and it had to be able to run all day. My inspiration though, really came from watching people at the lake awkwardly wading at the waters edge while the privileged few were out on the water.”
The next day he embarked on a journey that would last three years. In his garage he set about researching materials and propulsion systems. He worked through designs that allowed for speed without adding too much weight.
The first three prototypes sank. Undeterred he learned from his mistakes, along the way gaining skills in molding carbon fiber until the current hull design began to take shape. The two main issues he faced were displacement, that is refining the delicate balance between weight, size and flotation, and getting air in and keeping water out. Eventually he got it right and after developing an electronic ignition system, trialling a number of steering methods and overcoming issues with overheating, he was ready to take to the water.
“I have only taken it out in public a few times but consistently everyone wants to know 'what is it?!' and 'where can I get one?'" Woods said. "Occasionally people respond with 'Oh great, now I'm going to have to buy one for little Johnny'” he said. “Its really been the most rewarding part of the project seeing the overwhelming reactions from everyone who's seen it.”
The current model has a top speed of around 15 mph (24 km/h), depending on the weight of the user, and is driven by a 6 hp micro jetpump which puts out around 55-60 lbs of thrust. The total weight of the Kymera is around 10 lbs (4.5 kg), with the engine, jetpump, electric start, and intake / exhaust system accounting for 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg).
Woods says the Kymera can run continuously for over two hours on less than a quart of 92 octane+ plus fuel, which is its current fuel capacity. "I would argue its the most fun you can have for a $1 these days,” he told Gizmag.
The name Kymera was inspired by a species of deep water shark and the design and name are both patent pending. Jason Woods is a 27 year old sound, lighting and video engineer working in corporate event production with design one of his passions and hobbies since high school – one that he said he would like to pursue more closely now he has been given a taste through developing the Kymera.
If you'd like to give him some encouragement or maybe purchase a couple of thousand of the Kymera to help him realize his dream of quitting his day job to concentrate on developing the jetboard, he can be emailed here.
The Kymera isn't the first example of the powered-board platform we've seen – if you have a little more room for freight there's a already a stand-up option on the market in the form of the Powerski JetBoard.
The short video gives a taste of the Kymera in operation: