NauticExpo e-Magazine - #23 – Water SportsNauticExpo e-Magazine

The Online Boating and Maritime Exhibition

Water Fun




For this July issue, NauticExpo e-magazine wants its readers to let loose, take a deep breath and have some fun. To do this, discover our story about the world of inflatable water play that is seeing an increasingly huge success. Read our interview with the windsurfing legend Anders Bringdal, four times world champion, and our piece about former jet-ski racer Franky Zapata who has built a successful company around his futuristic Flyboard.

For you we also tested the so-called world’s smallest underwater scooter—the SharkMIX. IZIBoat, Swimboard, Seawork International and America’s Cup are among the other topics you’ll enjoy reading about in this issue.

Happy summer everyone and see you in September!

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Inflatable play equipment promotes healthy, outdoor fun. (Courtesy of Wibit)

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Slippery staircases, fast slides, monkey bars and bouncy trampolines—the world of inflatable water play is seeing huge success in the 21st century.   Manufactured from lightweight yet durable PVC, the equipment lends itself to creative design, as well as easy transportation and storage. Furthermore, where waterparks...


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Swedish windsurfing champion Anders Bringdal (Photo credit: Eric Bellande)

NauticExpo e-magazine interviewed the Swedish windsurfing champion Anders Bringdal. World champion at the age of 17, the windsurfing legend talks to us about the evolution of the sport, the arrival of kitesurfing and standup paddleboards as well as his new projects like Sea Bubbles. Interview translated from French by...


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The Zapata Flyboard (Photo: Zapata)

Former jetski racer Franky Zapata has built a successful company around his futuristic Flyboard, a patented invention that is paving the way for a range of new devices.   Our first Flyboard demonstration was a surreal experience as we witnessed a man flying through the air in the marina while being followed by a...


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The ECOCAT (Courtesy of Torqeedo)

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A purely solar-powered zero emissions electric ferry with deployable and retractable pneumatic wings—that’s ECOCAT and it took Seawork’s Maritime...



When you need global insight (Courtesy of Peter4153)

An interactive data explorer that instantly gives maritime planners the world’s wind and wave climate, free metocean analyses, and the ability to download key...



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  • Sublue SharkMIX underwater scooter (Courtesy of Sublue)

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    This battery-powered underwater scooter packed a mightier punch than its small size suggests when we tested it in the ocean.

     

    The so-called world’s smallest underwater scooter arrived in two boxes about the size of a dozen wine bottles each—one contained the additional flotation device and the other the SharkMIX unit manufactured by Chinese underwater specialist company SuBlue.

    Formerly a commercial underwater vehicle and robotics developer, the company has been producing a range of consumer devices since 2013. SuBlue general manager Liu Qi told Chinese media that the strong demand in the underwater vehicle sector in its target markets of Europe and America means it will produce 100,000 units in 2018 across its range that comprises SharkMIX, SharkNano, SharkMini and SharkMax models.

    SharkMIX (Courtesy of Kevin Green)

    Our trial SharkMIX was their entry level unit that came with a 11,000 mah Li Polymer battery. It was put on charge for about two hours until the charge light showed green; giving one hour usage. In the meantime, we’d assembled the unit with the flotation device and attached the wrist strap. We even tried out the GoPro mount with our camera and it worked—apart from the fixing angle was a bit too downward facing. Build quality felt sturdy in toughened plastic and the four bladed propellers were deeply indented to avoid children’s fingers catching on them.

    5 Kilometers per Hour

    Then we went down to our local bay in Sydney Harbour to try it out. We were tempted to put on our diving gear but this small unit isn’t really designed or powerful enough for that (it has a propulsion force of 8 kg). But it’s ideal for snorkelers and free divers. Weighing in at only 2.85 kg and about the size of a radio controlled aeroplane, it is easy to handle.

    Once in the water, it is buoyant and powered by pulling the twin levers simultaneously—there’s not much graduated power so mostly on and off—and using it was fairly intuitive. You simply swung your arms in the desired direction and the SharkMIX propelled you along at about 5 kilometres per hour. It sells for Euro 750.


    The swimboard (Courtesy of Jean-Marie Liot / Plasmor)

    Plasmor has been making boats and kayaks for 40 years, but now they’ve added something new to their collection: the Swimboard. The first models came out in...


    The IZIBoat (Courtesy of IZIBoat)

    Who hasn’t dreamed of gliding along the water in a sailboat and then been cut short in this fantasy due to the complexity of sailing? So many ropes, knots,...



    An IT and AI research team from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed what is perhaps the most advanced robotic fish ever...



    The Folgefonn (Screenshot)

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    Finland-based technology group Wärtsilä has successfully tested its autonomous auto-docking technology aboard the 83 m-long ferry Folgefonn owned by Norwegian operator Norled.

     

    The vessel, which uses hybrid propulsion, has already served as a testbed for other advanced Wärtsilä systems, including energy optimization, plug-in hybrid and plug-in electrical operations, wireless inductive battery charging, and energy storage. Installation of auto-docking is a world first, with the project supported and backed with funding by state-owned Innovasjon Norge (Innovation Norway).

    Speaking to NauticExpo e-magazine, Wärtsilä spokeswoman Marit Holmlund-Sund said: “Testing largely took place near Sunde on Norway’s west coast, not far from our facility in Stord. The first ten auto-dockings were at an unused ferry dock, then moved to Jektevik ferry dock—one of three docks Folgefonn normally calls at—to complete two more auto-dockings before we ran out of test time.”

    “Control of the ferry was turned over to the autonomous system about 2 km from the dock. It took the ferry to 10 knots for a short distance, to simulate transit mode, then transitioned to slower speeds for the auto-docking process. At no time did the captain need to take manual control, although it is possible at any time. The system also allows the ship’s officers to focus on situational awareness, thereby improving safety and reliability.”

     

    Auto-docking ferry successfully tested in Norway (Courtesy of Wärtsila)

    The technology has yet to be given an official name, nor has the cost been decided. “Issues that will affect cost include the level of redundancy required by regulatory bodies and/or customers,” Holmlund-Sund noted.

    “The system won’t be restricted to ferries. Ultimately, it will be able to be used on any sized vessel.”

    “The system won’t be restricted to ferries,” she continued. “Ultimately, it will be able to be used on any sized vessel. We are currently getting ready to run more tests on different applications. The critical issue is that the vessel must be sufficiently powered for the task—auto-docking requires enough thrusters so that we can intricately manoeuvre the vessel during the docking/undocking process. It also requires high-quality heading measurements.”

    As to the challenges Wärtsilä faced, Holmlund-Sund highlighted the transition from high-speed transit to low-speed docking. “The system controller switches from two-axis control for transit to three-axis control for docking. Bearing in mind that the ultimate goal is to have the controller autonomously move the vessel from the current dock to the next dock, that means it must undock the ferry, maneuver it out of the harbour, speed it up to its transit speed, steer it over to the next docking area, slow it down, maneuver through the harbour, then complete the docking process—all without human intervention.”

     

     


    CONTRIBUTORS



    Monica Hutchings

    Monica Hutchings is a Canadian writer and translator who has worked on everything from technical descriptions to academic journals. She is also our in-house English translator.


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    Abigail Saltmarsh

    Abigail Saltmarsh is a freelance journalist with 25 years’ experience for national magazines (The New York Times, International Herald Tribune).


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    Øyvind Bordal

    Øyvind Bordal is a norwegian writer and sailor, based in Denmark and Caribbean.

     


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    Kevin Green

    Kevin Green is a Sydney-based yachting journalist who contributes to international boating publications.

     


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    Celia Sampol

    Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She’s the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.


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    Tony Slinn

    Formerly editor-in-chief of IHS Maritime, Tony Slinn is an independent maritime journalist.


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