This company says its boats can save Venice

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(CNN) — That Venice is in peril is indisputable. Whether it is ultimately salvageable is up for discussion.

Now a company thinks it can make a difference in the floating, sinking city – with “flying” boats.

Swedish company Candela believes its electric boats can help combat “moto ondoso” – the damaging phenomenon of waves hitting buildings and pavements from the wake of boats traveling through the city.

Moto ondoso has been designated by UNESCO as a “macro emergency” facing the fragile lagoon city. The organization says there is a need to “significantly reduce the effects produced by motorboats”.

Candela’s boats aim to do just that. The Candela C-8 and P-8 Voyager are the first high-speed, wakeless foil daycruisers. And while the C-8 is a classic boat, the P-8 Voyager was designed to be able to take passengers – like a taxi or a shuttle boat, sparking the idea that it could be adopted on a wider level. around the city.

Boats ride on airboats to glide across the water.


Designed by aviation and drone engineers, the boats produce a wake of just 5 centimeters (2 inches) when “flying” at 30 knots – about the same amount as a hand-paddle gondola , and they are unlikely to crush the foundations of the city with waves.

Meanwhile, the larger 30-seat P-12, which was announced in June 2022, promises to be the world’s first “flying” ferry – with a range of 60 nautical miles and speeds of up to 60 km/ h (37 mph), which the manufacturers say could beat rush-hour traffic on the roads with an alternative on wheels.

The 2022 launches follow the launch of Candela’s first boat, the C-7 Pilot, which made its debut in 2019. Unlike the other boats, it lacks an enclosed cabin, making it more of a leisure boat for fishing. ‘summer.

Electric dreams – and nightmares

Electric cars may have been popular for a while, but electric boats have had a tougher ride. The drag of water on a boat’s hull, combined with the weight of the battery needed to power it, is a double whammy for boats, meaning most have to compromise on speed or distance.

According to Candela, a battery with a capacity of 100 kWh in an ordinary ship can only travel 30 nautical miles at 20 knots before running out. But raising the hull out of the water solves the drag problem. These boats are 400% efficient and can cruise for 150 minutes before needing to recharge, the company says.

Candela’s “flying” boats are the brainchild of founder Gustav Hasselskog, who noticed that his speedy ice cream runs while on vacation in Swedish lakes cost about 10 times the price of his family’s gasoline-powered ice cream.

He calculated that conventional boats use about 15 times more energy than a car, at a constant speed of 20 knots, which made them problematic to run on battery power. Instead, he thought of raising the boats out of the water, on hydrofoils, to make them “fly”, and employed aviation engineers and drones to make it a reality.

Quiet boats put riders in harmony with nature.

Quiet boats put riders in harmony with nature.


“Flying in absolute silence, without any chatter and essentially for free – it’s just an amazing experience. Once you’ve tried Candela, it will be hard to go back to traditional powerboats,” said Hasselskog, in a statement on the C-8.

“Venice, which depends on powerboats but also suffers from their impact, is the perfect place to show how Candela’s craft can contribute to a better world, while delivering new levels of performance.”

The boat begins to sail like any other, but – just like an airplane – as it picks up speed, it begins to rise. The foils can also retract, which means the boats are not exposed to the risk of marine growth, which could otherwise inflate them.

However, that need for speed to raise the foils means saving Venice won’t be as simple as going electric, said Dr Pierpaolo Campostrini, chief executive of CORILA, which studies Venice’s lagoon system.

“Boats with this type of hull do not produce moto ondoso when using their foils, but the foils are only activated above a certain speed, which at the moment seems high for the context. lagoon,” he told CNN.

“It’s definitely not a concept suitable for a vaporetto [waterbus] in the Grand Canal or a freighter.”

However, he thought the boats could have potential outside the city center, such as on the way to the airport, further north in the lagoon, or connecting Venice to islands such as Burano and Pellestrina.

Rethinking Venice

A Candela water bus could work for longer trips around the lagoon.

A Candela water bus could work for longer trips around the lagoon.


However, he warned that maneuvering the high-speed boats around slower traffic could be difficult, and said an overhaul of the city’s transport system was needed before decisions were made.

“It would be interesting to experiment [with Candela]but before this possibility is introduced on a large scale, the whole water mobility of the lagoon must be rethought,” he said.

“It is crucial on the one hand to accelerate the transition to electric propulsion of all boats in the lagoon as much as possible, on the other hand to enforce speed limits using existing technologies capable of recognizing the type of boat, and thirdly, possibly, to adapt the speed limit to the type of boat.”

Meanwhile, while Venice waits, Stockholm has surged. The regional government has commissioned a trial of the P-12 ferries, using the boats on a suburban route from the city center to the suburb of Ekerö, with a view to eventually running a fleet of flying ferries. Boats will run at an increased frequency to compensate for their small size. The boats will go into production in the fall of 2022 and testing is expected to begin in the first half of 2023.

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