Epoch Boats embarks on new horizons with high performance electric boats that provide more options for boater use cases
When our team formed Epoch Boats in 2021, we initially set out to build an electric jet ski / wave runner / PWC startup. We believed that a low cost, low maintenance solution would resonate with the market and be a home run. Unfortunately, we were foiled by physics. As we put pen to paper, our models never produced a design that was capable of achieving the speed, range, and price level that we felt was needed to achieve widespread commercial success.
We decided to pivot, and Epoch went through its first evolution.
Our vision for Epoch Boats then became a hydrofoil electric boat startup. Our math models made sense. We could, at least on paper, design and manufacture battery electric boats with the speed and range expected by customers, while maintaining a competitive price point with the gas powered incumbents on the market.
Our goal was to start with a highly efficient, hydrodynamic hull design that would then utilize our proprietary hydrofoil system to maximize the range & speed of electric motors.
Epoch Boats then quickly moved from math models to the model shop.
We built sub-systems and fitted them to existing boats to move quickly and manage development costs. We experimented with a variety of foil profile designs, system configurations, and control schemas. We correlated theory to reality. Having mitigated much of the design related technical risk, the team set out to build our first boat.
As part of our modeling efforts, the Epoch team had developed not only a boat designed specifically for electrification, but also a new way of building boats. Our manufacturing system proposed to significantly reduce CapEx for every boat model developed and labor content for each boat rolling off the line. The use of cutting-edge digital tools, advanced design controls, and a fair bit of cleverness held the promise to give Epoch an unfair advantage in the realm of boat manufacturing. When coupled with our proprietary designs it would make Epoch a force to be reckoned with.
The end of 2021 and start of 2022 was showered in a snowstorm of sparks as plasma cutters and welders turned metal sheets into something with form. We were able to validate about 50% of our manufacturing system building this single vessel. Vetting the remainder would require scale and volume. As the team labored through cold winter nights, kept warm by paltry space heaters and electric arcs flying from the ends of handheld torches, a shift occurred in the atmosphere.
Winter gave way to spring, and we were ready to hit the water.
When P-001, affectionately named “The Dutchman” (and later upgraded to “The Flying Dutchman”), splashed in Pennsylvania’s chilly March waters, it proved to not only be seaworthy but also a joy to pilot. Leaving the water was difficult as the first day out gave way to twilight. However, there was work to be done. Much of the test and correlation work undertaken on the early retrofit vessels had to be revisited for The Dutchman. Theory again had to be correlated to reality.
As tests were run, equipment installed and removed, and weeks passed, the shine of the recently built prototype faded to a mosaic of drilled holes, chipped paint, and markings decipherable by only the keenest of engineers. In typical fashion for a startup, this aesthetic degradation occurred just as we were getting great results and clamoring to share our product with the world.
As lifelong boaters used to displacement and planing vessels, the experience of foiling is novel and exciting. When accelerating from idle to planing speed, high speed planing boats go through a dynamic phase known as “hole shot.” The boats produce a pressure wave in front of the bow that creates a small hill made of water. With the bow pitched up and stern angled down, boats must climb this hill to get on plane and go fast.
Hydrofoil boats don’t do this.
Even at low speed, deployed hydrofoils affect the attitude and dynamics of a vessel. When properly arranged around a boat’s center of gravity, the boat will tend to run flat and not experience hole shot. As the foil boat attains speed and crosses through the drag bucket, it vertically pops, the hull leaves the water, and the boat achieves “flight.” We call this “sky shot” at Epoch.
Sky shot is hard to describe but in simple terms feels great. Some say achieving sky shot is like riding a magic carpet. Others liken it to cresting an apex on a roller coaster. In flight mode the surrounding water stops hitting the hull. The boat gets quiet and feels lively. We believe that as boaters experience foiling that they won’t want to go back to planing and displacement hulls. We certainly don’t want to.
In mid-March 2022 Epoch decided to go live. We opened our customer waitlist to coincide with the announcement of Epoch’s launch and technology in several major boating publications. Though we had validated our concepts by speaking with many boaters during our journey, we had not solicited sales until this point. We approached launch day with trepidation. Would our concept resonate with the boating public? YES! And thanks to well written articles by some of boating’s top journalists, it resonated far and wide.
The intervening months became a flurry of customer interviews set within a backdrop of ongoing product development. Though our team was composed of lifelong boaters with decades of professional experience in the marine industry, we learned something new every day.
The marine industry is different from the automotive industry. There are only about a dozen types of on-road passenger vehicles. There are hundreds of styles of boats and even within a specific style there can be wildly different use-cases. As we spoke to more and more customers, we began to notice patterns. In an effort to remain ever vigilant we tested our theories and plans against every new piece of information. A clear image of the electric boating market began to emerge. Thankfully it supported our theses and work to date on hydro-foiling products, but it also pointed to a much larger opportunity.
The Next Evolution
Entering 2023, Epoch is evolving from being a hydrofoil electric boat startup to being a high-performance electric boat startup. This may seem like a small distinction, but it is important. Our many customer interviews have revealed that significant subsets of the boating public would not necessarily benefit from hydrofoil technology because they didn’t need to achieve top speed. However, these customers can be served by highly efficient purpose-built electric boats that could extend their range.
Epoch is updating its design methodology and product offering such that each vessel will now be configurable to three levels of performance. In automotive terms, the new configuration options are similar to selecting a standard Tesla, a dual motor, or a ludicrous speed package.
Each boat configuration starts with our hydrodynamic hull design, with options to level up for how the boat will be used. The base level is the most affordable and easy to use, the mid-level is perfect for moderate use-cases, and the top level uses our proprietary foil system for maximum performance.
There are many benefits of these performance configurations:
- We can offer boats at with distinctive entry level and high-performance premium price points
- Model / length hulls are harmonized across configurations, allowing for serial production
- Harmonized designs allows for volume purchasing and scale manufacturing, which lowers costs for everyone
- We are able to offer semi-bespoke boats that leverage mass production techniques to meet every customer’s needs
- Customers are able to purchase only what they need in a vessel and are able to upgrade at a later date
Breaking from the automotive paradigm, Epoch’s configurations are upgradeable. Should a customer initially purchase an entry-level base model, they will be able to purchase a physical upgrade kit and convert it to a mid-level or top-level configuration at a later date without replacing their entire vessel.
You spoke. We listened.
Along with offering every vessel with three levels of performance configuration, Epoch is excited to announce that we will be adding to our Skiff Series with the launch of two new boat models in 2023! The two models that we’ll release later this year are based on everything that we’ve learned through computational analysis, on-water testing, and most importantly, customer interviews since our launch. These exciting new offerings are purpose designed for electrification in ways unmatched by any other electric boat offerings.
If you’re interested in learning more, please join our mailing list for monthly updates
If you’d like to secure your spot in line, please register for Epoch’s waitlist.
If you’d like to get on-board with the electric boating revolution, please reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to explore partnership opportunities and speak with potential investors.