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A New Era Of Transport Set To Propel A More Liveable World

Vessev, one of New Zealand’s leading sustainable marine technology providers, has today revealed the VS-9 which will unlock entirely new opportunities on the water. By partnering with Fullers360, New Zealand's largest ferry operator, the VS-9 will become the first fully electric passenger vessel to operate in Auckland and the first hydrofoiling tourism vessel to operate in the world.

NetZero Maritime, Fullers360’s specialist maritime green technology and innovation team, has played a pivotal role in the adoption of this new type of vessel.

Crafted and conceptualised by Vessev (formerly Seachange) in New Zealand, the VS-9 heralds a new era of transport on the water unlocking a new set of opportunities like never before.

The first VS-9 was lifted into the water earlier this month after an incredibly efficient 12-month build phase to begin sea trials. Once testing is complete the VS-9 will be fitted with a cabin top and high-end interiors before being commercialised by Fullers360 to deliver tourism experiences across the Hauraki Gulf.

Fullers360 CEO Mike Horne says the business is thrilled to partner with Vessev as part of its transition to zero emission solutions.

“It’s our intention for Fullers360 to be 100% electric or hydrogen operated by 2040 and foiling is absolutely a part of that vision for us. The establishment of NetZero Maritime has enabled us to dedicate a team to enabling zero emissions projects with the VS-9 being the first fully electric passenger vessel to operate in Auckland”, says Mr Horne.

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The nine-meter VS-9 will transport up to 10 passengers at a service speed of 25 knots with a range of 50 nautical miles (57 miles/92.6km) thanks to state-of-the-art efficient hydrofoiling technology.

Vessev CEO Eric Laakmann says the maritime industry is on the cusp of a once-in-a- generation shift toward adopting zero emissions solutions.

“We are in the earliest stage of a global transition to sustainable energy use. Our partnership with NetZero Maritime is one of the most powerful in the world in accelerating the adoption of new technologies. There are 33 million vessels in the world today with sustainable vessels representing the smallest fraction of them. Through significant enhancements in efficiency, hydrofoiling will play a key role in this once-in-a-generation shift”, says Mr Laakmann.

"The development and commercialisation of the VS-9 unlocks entirely new possibilities on the water enabling a shift toward more efficient, more reliable and more comfortable marine transport. The VS-9 will unlock thousands of new routes around the world that are currently impractical for traditional vessels”, says Mr Laakmann.

Vessev’s expert team of innovative marine engineers and builders have designed and built a vessel that aligns seamlessly with commercial transport and tourism requirements through their partnership NetZero Maritime.

Mr Horne says the business is incredibly pleased to see the VS-9 begin its first phase of on- water testing.

“Auckland is quickly becoming a case study for the adoption of green technology and the IP within NetZero Maritime is playing a fundamental role in accelerating the understanding and adoption globally. Seeing this project come to fruition reinforces our move to establish NetZero Maritime and enable the commericialisation of new technology such as the VS-9.

“The VS-9 combines the first fully electric passenger vessel to operate in Auckland with the latest hydrofoiling technology to deliver premium tourism experiences. Our understanding is there are currently no electric hydrofoiling vessels certified for commercial tourism use in the world and the testing done here in New Zealand will set a new standard for bringing this new class of vessel into service globally”, says Mr Horne.

Enhanced customer experience

The transformative hydrofoiling technology unlocks a new set of experiences and opportunities for smaller 9m vessels like the VS-9. With a spacious cabin with capacity for 10 passengers, the VS-9 will deliver premium tourism experiences unlike anything Kiwis have enjoyed before.

“Customers will glide across the Hauraki Gulf enjoying smooth travel that feels more like flying than sailing thanks to the foils that slice through waves usually uncomfortable for a vessel of this size to operate in. This means that rolling sensation you feel on traditional boats completely disappears when the VS-9 enters foiling mode, creating an onboard experience unmatched by conventional vessels,” explained Mr Horne.

Incredibly efficient foiling technology

The VS-9’s modular foiling system has been designed, built and tested by Vessev by their team of engineers using some of the same techniques as winning America's Cup teams.

This makes the VS-9’s foiling systems very efficient and resilient.

“To our knowledge, the VS-9 will be the only certified passenger electric hydrofoiling vessel to utilise this technology. We use techniques similar to America’s Cup vessels which provide very high control authority when compared to other systems. That means we can handle more wind and bigger seas. The system is more difficult to engineer up-front, but results in a very performant vessel that is both more capable and more efficient”, says Mr Laakmann. Vessev’s technology reduces energy consumption by up to 95%, facilitating a range of up to 

50 nautical miles at a service speed of 25 knots – equal to roughly four trips to Waiheke Island from downtown Auckland. The VS-9 is so efficient it can be charged using existing electric charging infrastructure commonly available, accelerating the speed to service. Once highspeed DC charging is in place, recharge times will be much quicker at 0.8 nautical miles of range per minute of charging.

“Hydrofoiling significantly increases the efficiency of vessels. Performance-wise, this means more range and much faster charging. The efficiencies are also economical for operators with the elimination of fuel costs and significantly reduced maintenance costs.

“To put it into perspective, the VS-9 is undergoing on-water testing with a petrol-powered chase boat following and doing the same motions and distance. At the end of each day, the cost of the petrol fueling the chase boat is 25 times the cost of the electricity used to charge the VS—9”, explains Mr Laakmann. 

Stability and durability

The VS-9's foils enable it to ride completely above waves, providing an infinitely smoother ride than conventional vessels and enhancing its operational capability. The VS-9 takes off at 18-19 knots, transitioning from foil assist to full foiling mode, and cruises with optimum efficiency between 22-25 knots. The foil stabilisation systems enter operation at 12 knots – actively reducing pitch and roll motion, even when not fully on foils and ‘flying’.

Built using carbon fibre laminates, the VS-9 is incredibly resilient and built to last. For maximum durability, the VS-9’s foils are fully retractable which enables the vessel to operate in shallow water and protect the foils so the vessel can be transported on a trailer.

“The ability to remove the foils from the water completely is a design element we’re particularly proud of. We were told it would be impractical, but we’ve delivered a system which makes it easy for operators to maintain pristine foils for maximum efficiency. To our knowledge, the VS-9 will be the only certified passenger electric hydrofoil in the world capable of this”, says Mr Laakmann.

Looking ahead

Utilising the design of the VS-9, Vessev is already working through further enhancements to the vessel performance and applying this to larger foiling vessels with capacity for more passengers suitable for a range of routes.

"We eagerly anticipate our continued partnership with Vessev to deliver zero-emission foiling vessels, cementing our position as a global leader in innovation and sustainability,” says Mr Horne.

‘We are honoured by our partnership with Fullers360. They are one of the most innovative operators in the world and are leading the way in genuine decarbonisation of marine transport. We thank both Fullers360 and NetZero Maritime for their support and their vision” says Mr Laakmann

The VS-9 entered the water for the first time earlier this month at Auckland’s Westhaven Marina where it is undergoing robust sea trials and risk mitigation testing before gaining certification by Maritime New Zealand. The VS-9 is on track to be the first vessel of its kind in the world to be certified for commercial use.

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