June 23, 2022

Arc OneBy Jeff Butler

Arc Boats, a venture-backed startup building high-performance, fully electric boats, has launched its flagship Arc One model. The company says it is the most powerful electric watercraft commercially available and marks a milestone not just for the company, ‘but also for the nascent electric boating industry’.

The boat was designed specifically for wakeboarding and other water tow sports with a 500 hp electric motor (≈ 370kW) and 220kWh battery pack. To put that in perspective, the battery capacity is about three times that of a Tesla Y.

Electric boats have always been good for low speed, quiet cruises, but the challenge is combining both speed and range and trying to overcome the simple fact that a planing boat has a lot of drag and more power to overcome it means heavier batteries, which means more drag, which requires more power…and so on.

Companies like Candela in Sweden have developed hydrofoiling as a solution, reducing the drag to near zero as the boat almost literally flies over the water. This also results in a wake of only a few centimetres.

Super Air Nautique GS22EThe Super Air Nautique GS22E uses it weighty battery pack to create wake

A wake is crucial to watersport boats, (as the name ‘wakeboarding’ indicates; wakeboarding boats often have fillable water tanks to add weight and create wake), so the weight of the Arc One is not detrimental and the speed/range issue can be addressed with big batteries.

Nautique introduced its Super Air Nautique GS22E with a powerful wake a couple of years ago. The heavy battery sitting aft, which provides the juice for power and running time, is a plus for creating juicy wake. The Arc One follows the same principle using inherent weight, rather than ballast tanks, to create wakeboarding water.

Ingenity BatteriesIt takes lots of battery to achieve speed – a good thing in a wakeboarding boat

The Arc One can hit a top speed of 35 knots (65 km/h) and at full throttle the battery would theoretically last about an hour and three quarters (370kW/22okWh), but since a watersport boat isn’t always going at top speed, the usage time is estimated to be 3-5 hours.

With the battery alone weighing more than 1,300 kg, creating an electric boat with the goal of outperforming, or even competing with today's powerful gas boats comes with a unique set of technical challenges.

To get it done, Arc assembled a team headed by a former lead engineer from Elon Musk’s Space X project who brought along some of his co-workers to tackle the project with a group of boat industry veterans.

They chose to work with aluminum as the hull material, partly for the strength to weight ratio, but also because it is easier to work with when going through the inevitable iterations of designing a new boat. Especially one like this that has the goal of ‘“leading the marine industry into an electric future, starting with watersport boats.”

Electric boats have always been good for low speed, quiet cruises, but the challenge is combining both speed and range and trying to overcome the simple fact that a planing boat has a lot of drag and more power to overcome it means heavier batteries, which means more drag, which requires more power…and so on.

Companies like Candela in Sweden have developed hydrofoiling as a solution, reducing the drag to near zero as the boat almost literally flies over the water. This also results in a wake of only a few centimetres.

A wake is crucial to watersport boats, (as the name ‘wakeboarding’ indicates; wakeboarding boats often have fillable water tanks to add weight and create wake), so the weight of the Arc One is not detrimental and the speed/range issue can be addressed with big batteries.

While the Arc One claims to be the most powerful commercially available electric boat, it is not the only water sport model. The all-electric Super Air GS22e from Nautique made its debut in 2020 and while specs are not available on the website, presumably it also enough power for demanding wakeboard enthusiasts.

This kind of technology does not come cheap, of course. In Canadian dollars the Arc One is priced at $390,000 and the Nautique MSRP is $405,000. Having said that, a gas-powered tow with a 400 or 450 horsepower motor is also pricey and can gobble up a lot of ever-more-expensive fuel very quickly.

Whether the Arc One is for you or not, there is no doubt that it is a landmark event in the evolution of electric propulsion. Indications are that as batteries get lighter, less expensive and more energy dense, there will be many more options available for the average boater who wants to cut down their carbon emissions.

Arc One: Available for preorder now with the first delivery happening later this summer.

Arc Boats: https://arcboats.com/

Nautique GS 22E: https://nautique.com/models/super-air-nautique-gs22e/overview

Jeff ButlerJeff Butler is based in Toronto and is the Editor/Publisher of plugboats.com, the international website covering everything electric boats and boating. He is also President of the Electric Boat Association of Canada (electricboatassociation.ca ) and is busy preparing to bring electric motor boat racing and exhibitions to Toronto Harbour in 2023 for the first Toronto Solar Boat Races.

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