Cue up the soundtrack to Jaws. Here comes Seabreacher X.
Want to perform exotic aquabatics in your next high-powered water toy? And do you want to do it in a watercraft that looks like a shark? Then the Seabreacher X is the advanced submersible (yes, submersible) vehicle for you. But you might want to get your order in quickly, because the company making them, Innespace Productions in northern California, plans on turning out just 10 of these made-to-order beauties, and it’s already building number five. (Innespace expects to have number 10 done by the middle of next year.)
More powerAt the heart of the Seabreacher X is a 1,500-cc, three-cylinder, four-stroke Rotax engine capable of putting out 215 hp. A supercharged version pushes the output to 260 hp. The relatively quiet, low-emission engine relies on closed-loop water-based cooling and powers an axial-flow waterjet. The waterjet generates thrust, which funnels through a fully articulated vectoring nozzle, letting pilots steer the Seabreacher left or right, and up or down. For reverse, Innespace engineers added a drop-down reverse bucket that deflects thrust forward. The engine gives the Seabreacher X a top speed of 50 mph on the surface and 20 mph submerged.
Air for the engine comes in through a pair of snorkels, one built into the large dorsal fin, the other in the rear vertical fin.
The engine is reliable in salt and fresh water, and is relatively commonplace, according to Rob Innes, Innespace Productions founder. So local watercraft dealers should have replacement parts and be able to service it. The craft carries a 14-gallon fuel tank (regular or premium), which lets it cruise at 5 mph on the surface all day, says Innes. But run it hard, and you’ll be out of gas in 3 hr.
Diving and turning
The Seabreacher pilot controls the fins and vectored thrust using a pair of control sticks and a set of pedals. The control sticks manipulate the vectored nozzle for yaw, with the right one also carrying a finger trigger for throttle control. And foot pedals serve double duty: pushing left or right moves the vectored nozzle for right and left turns; and pushing them forward or back helps control pitch. The pedal layout is unlike that in airplanes where the yoke controls pitch, which can make it tricky for aircraft pilots transitioning to the Seabreacher X.
“We tried several different control setups, and this by far is the best for maximizing performance,” says Innes.
Speaking of performance, the Seabreacher can dive 5-ft deep for short durations, leap 12 ft into the air, and do barrel rolls, among other tricks.
“The X can do a 360° barrel roll, but you have to hit it at just the right speed, about 20 to 25 mph, otherwise the dorsal fin interferes,” says Innes. “Our J model, a Seabreacher that looks more like a dolphin than a shark, is actually easier to roll because it doesn’t have a rear snorkel or fin so there’s less drag. And we’ve built a stunt version of the X that can do very snappy rolls, but it can’t dive as deep. We’ve gotten it to do four rolls in a row, but passengers tend to get a bit nauseated after that.”
The Seabreacher X has a watertight cockpit, thanks to pneumatic seals around the half-inch-thick acrylic canopy and an onboard compressor. Similar seals on the engine hatch keep the engine dry as well. And passengers needn’t wear scuba gear; they sit in a shirt-sleeve environment. (But occupants might want to wear a swim suit instead.) If water does get in, three automatic bilge pumps keep the inside compartments relatively dry.
With the canopy closed, passengers have at least 20 min of air. If they want more, they have the option of tapping into the snorkel. “And it’s easy to open and close the canopy while the vehicle is running to replenish the air supply,” says Innes. “In fact, skilled pilots can operate the X at full speed on the surface with the canopy open, as long as they stay aware of wave heights and don’t do any dives.”
Passengers sit in tight bucket seats. “They keep you pretty well planted and prevent passengers from hitting their heads on the canopy during extreme maneuvers,” says Innes. “But riders need to be buckled into the four-point seat belts for rolls and other inverted moves.”
The hand-laid composite monocoque hull resists impacts, but the nose section collapses to absorb the force of a frontal impact and the fins break away in case of collisions. Vehicle construction includes enough buoyant material that the craft floats upright even if flooded. And because the Seabreacher X is positively buoyant, it needs speed to dive, which means the engine must be running. As a result, if the pilot dives the Seabreacher too deep, the snorkel goes underwater, starving the engine of air, and the craft pops back to the surface.
The cockpit is sized for drivers up to 6-ft, 4-in. tall and weighing up to 250 lb. The rear-seat passenger must to be a bit smaller: up to 6-ft, 1-in. tall and 210 lb. If necessary, the pilot seat can be set up to accommodate larger individuals.
The pilot has a variety of controls and displays, such as battery status, oil pressure, speedometer, tachometer, and a carbon-monoxide detector. LCDs for both the rear passenger and pilot let them see video supplied by a forward-looking camera mounted atop the dorsal fin. There’s also a mouth-shaped window beneath the pilot’s feet.
Customers can always add options, including a radio, GPS, stereo music system, iPhone dock, and other electronics and instrumentation. They can also pay a bit extra for a tinted canopy, additional underwater view ports, upgraded upholstery, additional acoustic insulation, or a special paint job. One customer, for example, had his X painted to more closely resemble a shark.
Each Seabreacher is custom built and takes about 90 days to produce. “We’re investing in better molds and tooling which should cut construction time to about 30 days per boat,” says Innes. “Currently we make about four craft at a time but hope to bump that up so we can turn out 25 vehicles a year. We don’t plan on going to mass production as we are still developing new technologies with every boat we build. And you can expect to see other high-performance designs in the future, some based on the Seabreacher platform and some entirely new vessels.”
One additional perk for Seabreacher customers: An invitation to participate in the Aquabatic Racing League, an organization started by Innespace to spur competition among owners of its vessels.