As I’ve noted several times in these pages, I’m a little partial to Ape Piaggio’s vehicle designs, and often get to help out with her designs in a small way. These treats occasionally lead me to offer a “sneak peek” at an upcoming design, although occasionally it can take longer than anticipated for the final product to appear – as has happened with the Airfish that I previewed over a year ago, and which subsequently hit a couple of hurdles that stalled final development.
The last 24 hours have given me the opportunity to try out and give feedback on Ape’s latest in-development craft: the WaveHopper. This is a craft that should, all things being equal, be commercially available in the next few weeks, but with Ape’s permission, I thought I’d whet a few appetites for it here.
Looking like a dolphin, the WaveHopper is a two-person craft that sits as a cross between a jet-ski (it is powered by a impeller mechanism in a similar manner to a jet-ski), a mini sub (it can operate submerged for up to a minute at a time), and an acrobatic craft. Its porpoise (see what I did there?) is to simply get out on the water and have fun – as I hope the accompanying photos demonstrate.
Once underway, the WaveHopper can travel on the surface of the water at a fair rate of knots (although handling at the upper end of the throttle can get some getting used to). Aircraft-like in its controls, tip the nose down and you’ll dive – but the idea is not to stay under water. Instead, pull back up on the controls, and the WaveHopper will accelerate upwards and breach the surface like a dolphin making a jump. What’s more, with a little practice, you can pull stunts with it, rolling as you jump or leaving the water inverted or even pulling a loop, part in / part out of the water can be managed.
It’s really designed for fun in a single region rather than long travels across multiple regions. It has a rocking motion when moving on the surface, and the finished version will have more buoyancy, and there will be a timer to turn off the engine to prevent overheating if submerged too long.
– Ape Piaggio describing the WaveHopper
And just in case you think the idea is a bit kooky – WaveHopper is actually based on a real vehicle (which has also been reproduced by a couple of other creators, although Ape’s design was my first exposure to it). You can catch a video of the “real thing” below and get a feel for it.
Pricing for the WaveHopper has yet to be finalised, but I can say it’ll be packed with additional features, including working cockpit nav system for first-person operation, media system, boarding animations and a range of poses. Ape also noted she might offer some little extras to go with it so that owners can have even more fun. As such, I’ll be giving the WaveHopper a full review once it is available.
And the Airfish? That’s apparently next on the list for completion!