Valo Hyperfoil quietly walks back speed claims as prototype launches
Once billed as the world's fastest production electric boat and the world's fastest production hydrofoiling craft, the Valo Hyperfoil has now hit the water as a working alpha prototype – but curiously, its claimed top speed has dropped considerably.
The hydrofoil concept makes excellent sense on an electric pleasure craft like this. Lithium batteries simply can't hold enough energy to push a draggy hull through water for long, and while they're a lot more expensive and complex than a regular boat, hydrofoils lift the hull right out of the water on stilts, hugely reducing drag and extending a craft's useful battery life.
They also more or less remove small to medium coastal waves from the equation, hovering over them for a smooth and pleasant ride – whether that's what you want from a jet ski-type thing is another matter!
The Valo Hyperfoil design is a nice looker, with extendable carbon blade legs that can move the foils and electric propulsion pod up level with the hull for shallow water operations, or drop them down a couple of feet when it's time to get up to the craft's takeoff speed around 15 mph (24 km/h), rise up out of the surf and fly.
An active fly-by-wire stability system running proprietary Skyride flight control software sits between the rider's inputs and the control surfaces on the hydrofoils, managing "altitude" and stability as well as steering and banking, and aiming to strike a good balance between agility and... well, not faceplanting during a turn.
When we first covered the idea back in November 2022, Boundary Layer Technologies, the group behind the Valo Hyperfoil, made some big claims, targeting a top speed of 50 knots (55 mph, 93 km/h) and the twin crowns as the fastest electric boat and fastest hydrofoil in production. We had our doubts, having already seen this speed eclipsed by two existing craft.
Seems Boundary Layer has had its own doubts, and with the release of images and video of the company's alpha prototype, we note the spec sheet has undergone some fairly significant changes. Top speed in particular drops from 50 knots to just 36.5 knots (42 mph, 68 km/h), bringing the Hyperfoil level with the US$5,999 Sea-Doo Spark 60 2-up – the slowest jet ski you can buy in 2023, according to Jetdrift.
Cruise speed also drops from around 40 mph (64 km/h) to 30 mph (48 km/h). On the positive side, the slower cruising speed will squeeze a little more endurance out of the battery, which is now rated for 2.3 cruising hours. I can't personally remember ever seeing a jet ski cruising, but I'm sure it happens.
It's unclear how important top speed is to buyers – I mean, faster is always better on a fun machine like this, but on the other hand, even if some clown roars past on a Kawasaki Ultra 310LX, pinging off the rev limiter at 67 mph (108 km/h), it'll be tough to peel anyone's eyeballs off the silent Hyperfoil as it levitates over the water.
Either way, the team has certainly worked rapidly to get this prototype up and flying, complete with an operational version of the Skyride flight control software. “This is a major milestone, and we did this in just 6 months while other companies can take 6 years," said CEO Ed Kearney in a press release. "It really proves that a small vehicle like this allows hyper fast engineering iteration, getting us to market fast."
“The vehicle itself is magical to ride," he continued. "It’s near silent, with the only sounds being the gentle splash of the water on the struts, the wind in your hair and a barely perceptible hum from the electric motor. When you see it, and ride it, it really feels like this is the future.”
At a target price of US$59,000, Boundary Layer says it's already sold US$2.7 million worth of Hyperfoils, taking US$500 deposits for build slot reservations. That's 45-odd boats reserved, accounting for three times the number the team expected to build in its entire first production run. Hitting the target date for the start of deliveries – the end of this year – will be a considerable challenge, but the team is confident it's on track, and it's now accepting reservations for the second production run in late 2024.
Check out a video of the prototype below.
Source: Boundary Layer Technologies
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