Man-Powered Watercraft from Kickstarter Going for World Speed Record

Leviathan project 1 photo
Photo: University of Sherbrooke
We heard London wants to build a £600-million ($956 million) floating pathway for bicycles on the river Thames to fight against rush-hour traffic. Well, that’s a bit costly, reason why we raise you this Kickstarter project that might become reality some time soon after it breaks a record (to prove it's worthy) - the one and only one-manned human powered watercraft set to go faster than 34 km/h (21.1 mph), basically a water bicycle.
A team of students from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to aid them with a new hydrofoil system that’s set to break the current record held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) regarding one-manned human powered watercraft by traveling at a speed of 37 km/h (22.9 mph).

Hydrofoil what?

The hydrofoil system is basically an underwater, adjustable wing set to raise the watercraft’s hull out of the fluid to decrease drag and increase speed. You might say it looks pretty easy to move a boat across the water surface and one can do it even with a pair of paddles, but as speed raises, the water starts to feel more like...  thick syrup, with the increasing drag demanding extreme efforts.

It’s designed to move slowly through the water and cause the flow to be deflected downwards. Now, according to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, this will exert on upward force on the foil, thus raising the boat out of the water.

Project LEVIATHAN described above will use such a system mounted on a lightweight single-seater catamaran. Power will be provided by one man’s muscles and strength as he will have to use a bicycle-like pedal system to turn the rear propeller.

At slow speeds, the LEVIATHAN will float on two narrow hulls just like a normal catamaran, but as soon as speed raises so will the two structures, leaving the watercraft glide on the blades system.

Different mechanisms and sensors will adjust the hydrofoil in real time to increase stability while the propeller will use an adjustable feather design to make the most out of the driver’s power input.

How’s the project doing so far?

According to the LEVIATHAN’s Kickstarter campaign page, the students have already raised CAD$7,500 ($6,650/€5,210), which is about four times more than the initial pledge.

This means the students will be able to make aluminum molds for the lower hydrofoil and the propeller in order to increase aerodynamic and hydrodynamic performances. The next milestone will be to raise CAD$10,000 ($8,870/€6,950) which will basically build their monocoque chassis.

A LEVIATHAN prototype will be on showcase at the University of Sherbrooke early December, during the 20th edition of the renowned Mégagéniale exposition.

Why is this important? Think of bicyclists gaining more territory over a river running through the middle of the city, going places in a safer environment using a mass production version of the LEVIATHAN. No more cars honking at you, stopping at red lights or potholes. Just some occasional other boats you’ll have to be aware of.

Or even better, some rentable LEVIATHAN-derived catamarans on which you could easily mount your own bicycle onto and start pedaling on water instead of buying the whole thing.

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