By Jonathan Mee
Electricity and water, not a popular pairing. That said, the dawn of electric boats is upon us, despite beliefs that the nautical industry would be the last to grace electric motors. The Floridian company Nautique, in collaboration with their sister company Ingenity, have produced the world’s first multi-sport electric boat – the Super Air Nautique GS22E. A mouthful I know. This article will provide all the information you need to know about the GS22E, and why Wired Magazine dubbed it ‘the Tesla of the wakeboarding world’.
What On Earth is a Wakeboat?
A wakeboat is fundamentally designed for wakesurfing and wakeboarding. Wakesurfing is the sport of surfing on a continuous wave created by the wake of a boat – no rope required. To achieve such a wave, the boat travels between 10-11mph and is weighed down with water ballast to displace as much water possible. In the GS22E’s case, there is up to 1850lbs of subfloor ballast. Wakesurfing is as close as you’re going to get to walking on water. Wakeboarding on the other hand is almost snowboarding on water, towed at around 20mph there is an endless amounts of stunts possible, as you jump wake-to-wake to impress onlookers. I compare the experience of wakeboarding to a rollercoaster ride, adrenaline levels rise and you pray to make it out the other side. Alongside these two sports, the GS22E is also designed for water-skiing, a rarity among wakeboats.
Take a look at the pictures again. Not even the paintwork is ordinary, the option of metal flake paint reflects sunlight complementing the angular design language. ‘Victory Red’ is my personal favourite colour scheme, paying heavy resemblance to the ‘Red Multi-Coat’ used by Tesla. In any case, there is a near infinite amount of designs one can select on the configurator, a welcomed surprise in comparison to the limited options you are given from some automakers – who shall remain anonymous. Tesla.
Like most automakers, options are plentiful, there are a few you could deem essential. For example, the underwater lights illuminate the water surrounding your vessel at night, particularly useful if you are a part-time spear fisher. An option selected 90% of the time is the tower-mounted Bimini, in short it is a storable
sun-shade whilst also providing protection from the elements, it even features two surfboard pockets for storage. The tower also features its own board storage, this is standard, and for those with garages I am pleased to inform the tower folds down. The swim platform is an expected standard feature enabling you to dip your toes in, test the water temperature, and swim off gently into the waters. Also standard are the rear transom seats, allowing you to sit back, relax, take in the views, and reflect upon how you can defend your hedge fund from Redditors.
Nautique pride themselves on their interiors, and for good reason. First of all, their 12.4” LINC Panoray touchscreen is intuitive and easy for anyone to use. You are able to control a plethora of the GS22E’s features from the zero-off GPS speed control to the volume of the Neil Diamond record that your family has selected. That brings me onto the sound system, it could be said that people on the shores will hear you before they see you. Nautique use a comprehensive JL Audio M3 Series stereo system, when fully optioned this includes 6 M3 speakers inside the boat, a pair of M3 8.8” tower speakers and a 10” subwoofer. A powerful combination that’s in the best of dreams for any audiophile. A maximum of 11 people can enjoy the amenities of this 22 foot electric wakeboat. Wraparound lounge-style seating allows sailors to cruise in comfort, whilst the captain rests in the highly configurable (race-car inspired) helm seat. Other noteworthy features are as follows: heated driver and loveseat (optional), enhanced courtesy lighting package (optional), stowable table (optional), removeable drinks cooler (standard), trash can (standard).
There are two questions you never ask a boat owner: how much does it cost to maintain your boat? How much do you spend on fuel? The reaction will most certainly be bitter, as they reminisce on when their wallets felt healthier. Thankfully the GS22E solves these taboo areas of conversation. Hefty fuel receipts are waved goodbye, as the price of electricity largely eliminates the combustion of your disposable income. Furthermore, as readers of this page will understand, the number of moving parts in an electric powertrain is orders of magnitude less than in an equivalent ICE (internal combustion engine). Resulting in less unexpected and expensive maintenance calls to the dealer. Ingenity has fitted the vessel with a 124KwH battery pack, comprised of almost 10,000 individual cells, larger than any battery pack fitted in an electric vehicle currently produced. Through a 2.84:1 gear ratio the GS22E delivers a maximum of 220kW in power (295hp). This figure can seem disappointing, at least when compared with the petroleum powered equivalent GS22 which has a maximum power of 400hp (as standard). Nevertheless, electric propulsion is famed for instantaneous torque, this is highly desirable in the watersports realm. Above all else, the tranquil silence of the powertrain allows for fluid conversations between mariners, the days of battling the sound of a roaring 6.0L ICE are gone.
Run Time, Charging and Safety
Electric vehicles are designed for optimum efficiency, weight is stripped and drag coefficients are low. On the other hand, ‘wakeboat’ is an antonym for efficiency. The GS22E weighs a mammoth 9250lbs, with a full crew and ballast. What’s more is the Nautique Surf System (NSS) deploys a waveplate to the side of the vessel, disrupting the water flow to create a surf wave-heavily increasing drag. This results in a watersports use time of 2-3 hours, which seems low however for the average consumer this is plentiful. In this context, range anxiety could have a whole new meaning, at least you can paddle back to shore right? Implementing the familiar CCS Combo 2 charge inlet, charging times are respectable, taking 1.5 hours at an 80kW supercharger. In spite of this, I’m sure you can imagine the difficulty of finding a supercharger on your local lake, perhaps it’s more handy to pay Ingenity $10,000 for a charger at your dock (in this case charging takes 4 hours). In this situation what happens if you accidentally drop the charging cable into the water? Nothing, you have a wet charger. Electricity will not flow until the charger has been plugged into the GS22E, where the charger and battery mutually communicate they are safe to charge. Additionally, if there are any faults within the system, contactors are opened and all high voltage potential is kept within the battery box.
Pricing and Conclusion
Beginning at an MSRP of $292,711 the GS22E is by no means a budget boat, a premium of $162,802 over the fossil fuelled GS22. Regardless, the thought of a Tesla Cybertruck towing a GS22E is heavenly. Furthermore, the technology implemented is revolutionary, and with over-the-air software updates it can only get better. Undoubtedly, zero-emissions is the way forward in the nautical industry, it is fascinating to observe how Nautique and Ingenity are carving such a future. As Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, put it “Good ideas are crazy until they’re not”.