‘Flying’ on the Water: Testing Candela’s Electric Hydrofoil Power Boat

There’s one thing extremely surreal about being in a high-powered automobile price virtually half 1,000,000 {dollars}, and never even realizing it is turned on. However my first experience in the Candela C-8 hydrofoil speedboat was so spectacular that, at first, I did not even notice it had begun. 

I am on the water in Sausalito, on the fringe of the lovely San Francisco Bay, about to take my first “take a look at flight” in Candela’s all-electric leisure craft — a 28-foot energy boat that makes use of hydrofoils to drift out of the water and “fly” above the waves. After working on the carbon-fiber boat for greater than two years with a crew of fifty engineers, the Swedish firm has introduced the C-8 to California in a bid to interrupt in to the large boating market in the US. Primarily based on the spectacular boats I see at the dock in Sausalito, this looks like an excellent place to start out. 

Sorry, Leonardo DiCaprio — now I do know what it actually feels prefer to be flying on a ship.


However although the 100% carbon-fiber hull, smooth design and $390,000 price ticket would possibly set the C-8 aside as a luxurious craft for the effectively heeled, this boat is extra than simply an costly toy. With the design of the C-8, Candela got down to remedy one in all the largest issues in boating: inefficiency. 

Whereas corporations like Tesla try to overtake the automobile market by getting rid of combustion engines in favor of battery energy, the world of sailing is arguably in want of an even bigger repair. 

In response to Candela, a conventional planing-hull boat makes use of about 15 occasions as a lot gasoline per mile as a household automobile. An outboard motor sputtering by means of gasoline or diesel gasoline at the again of a ship is noisy, the emissions are important, and the motors require common servicing. All as a result of a ship is making an attempt to push its approach by means of water, which continually resists it. 

An aerial shot showing the wake created by a traditional power boat and the wake generated by the C-8.

An aerial shot displaying the wake created by a conventional energy boat and the wake generated by the C-8.


Candela has overhauled the conventional speedboat design, changing the combustion motor with a 69kWh Polestar battery and a relatively small, torpedo-shaped direct drive motor (generally known as the C-Pod) that stays fully underwater, affixed to the boat’s rear hydrofoil. That motor and the C-8’s hydrofoils are the boat’s secret weapon. 

When Candela CEO Tanguy de Lamotte unplugs the boat from the charger and begins the ignition, I do not hear a factor. As we transfer away from the dock, I nonetheless cannot hear it. As we cruise out to the bay, and I sit on the again of the boat having a superbly audible whispered dialog with my colleague John Kim, all I can actually hear is the sound of water lapping at the carbon-fiber hull, and a quiet, boring whir. 

However once we lastly get out into the bay, the place we are able to get to greater speeds, that is after I notice the energy this motor brings. 

“The concept is it is like a airplane,” de Lamotte tells me as he pushes up the throttle. “You go straight and full energy after which it’s going to take off.” 

With that, I hear the motor kick in and we push by means of the water and start to rise out of the bay. Inside a number of seconds, we’re above the water, hovering up on the hydrofoils and cruising at 22 knots (or roughly 25 mph). 

“Now we’re flying!” de Lamotte says. 

The Candela C-8 Boat cruises out of the water on its hydrofoils, leaving a very narrow wake.

When it is out of the water in hydrofoiling mode, the C-8 creates a skinny wake. 


Due to the hydrofoil design, the C-8 makes use of roughly the identical quantity of energy when it is foiling at this velocity because it did once we have been popping out of the marina at a velocity of 5 knots — about 1.2 kilowatt hours per nautical mile in each instances. “That is how environment friendly the foils are,” de Lamotte tells me. 

The boat has a spread of about 57 nautical miles (66 miles) at the 22-knot cruising velocity, and it will probably attain as much as 27 knots at high velocity. On our experience, we spent about two hours on the water, most of that at cruising velocity, and we returned to the marina with 30 % battery. 

However it is not nearly effectivity. The sensation once we’re foiling is unbelievably clean. As we soar towards the Golden Gate Bridge, there isn’t any giant wake trailing behind us, and we’re not bouncing up and slamming down on the waves. It looks like the boat is on a digital camera gimbal. 

Whereas we’re on the C-8, I look over at the chase boat the place my colleague Celso Bulgatti is filming us from afar. The outboard motors are roaring away and the boat is dashing alongside us, bouncing up and down on the white water and getting air because it cruises over ferry wakes. (Fortunately, Celso is sort of a strolling digital camera gimbal himself, and the footage he shot that day is flawless — what a professional.)

The hydrofoils use fundamental legal guidelines of physics which can be as previous as nature. Primarily, the water strikes over the high and backside of the airplane-wing-shaped foil at completely different speeds, making a stress differential that generates elevate. However the tech inside the boat is cutting-edge. 

The form of the hydrofoil works just like an airplane wing, producing elevate in the water.


Candela has designed the carbon fiber layers in the foils so that they are extra versatile in the center, that means the foils can twist and regulate in the water. Information from sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers throughout the boat measure its motion in the water and the approach the foils are performing. This knowledge is then fed into the boat’s flight controller, which makes fixed changes to assist the C-8 keep secure, type of like avionics in a drone. 

For de Lamotte, who’s a veteran hydrofoil sailor and yacht designer who’s sailed solo round the world, this hydrofoil expertise is exclusive. 

“In my profession as an expert sailor we used foils as effectively, however we aren’t allowed to have software program to assist us management the foil, so it’s extremely completely different,” he mentioned. “However on this boat we’re utilizing electrical energy and the battery, and tremendous high-tech software program that adjusts the foils greater than 100 occasions a second. And that is why anyone can do it.”

And identical to that, it is time to put that principle to the take a look at. De Lamotte jumps out of the captain’s seat and tells me it is my flip to take off. 

Two people sit in a hydrofoiling speed boat on the San Francisco Bay.

“Street testing” the C-8 on the San Francisco Bay.

Celso Bulgatti/ClassyBuzz

The final time I used to be in a speedboat, it was slightly tin dinghy puttering throughout Womboyn Lake in Australia. By comparability, this looks like the Millennium Falcon. 

However with the push of the throttle, I am on my approach, hovering out of the water and rising up on the hydrofoils. It feels as shut as attainable to flying, with out truly getting in a airplane. And it is simpler than driving a automobile. 

To make sure, it is also far costlier than a automobile (and never even one thing I might justify as a technique to get to work in the morning, except I have been planning on commuting to a house workplace on Alcatraz). However it’s quiet, it is clean, and there are no gasoline emissions trailing out behind us. If that is the way forward for water journey, I am completely on board. 

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