Such efficiency and innovative mechanics naturally drives performance. When the boat gets up to about 16 knots (that’s 18 mph for you landlubbers), it takes off, the bulk of it lifting out of the water, supported by the hydrofoils underneath. The vessel levels out, and you’re skimming above the waves, leaving barely a wisp of a wake behind. And with more of the boat out of the water, the less drag there is. The result feels more like a hovercraft than a traditional boat.
Last year, Candela made waves (sorry, but I’m obligated to go overboard with the nautical puns here) when it announced a similar “flying” ferry that would shepherd passengers along their commutes in Stockholm. That pilot program is scheduled to set sail sometime later this year. In the meantime, Candela is in the process of launching its much zippier recreational watercraft. Candela showed off the C-8 at CES back in January and is manufacturing its first batch of orders. It says it plans to ship them in the next few weeks.
The C-8 is 28 feet long (8.5 meters) and weighs 1,750 kilograms, or roughly 3,900 pounds. Nearly the entire structure—from the vacuum-infused hull to the chairs—is built out of carbon fiber to allow the weight to be significantly less than similar boats.
It seats eight people, but maybe five or so comfortably if you don’t like being packed shoulder to shoulder. A Tesla-esque touchscreen panel is embedded in the console just above the steering wheel, providing navigation guidance, a speedometer, and various lighting and engine controls. A small forward staircase lets you access the bow of the boat. It also doubles as a trapdoor, the whole unit swinging upward to reveal a hatch underneath. Below deck is a cabin complete with beds, lights, and a toilet smack dab in the middle. Candela says the cabin can sleep two adults and two children, but you’d all really have to like each other.
High-End, High Testosterone
The C-8 is very much a luxury vessel. It costs $390,000, and has frequently been lazily called a Tesla of the sea. The clientele, so far, is probably whom you’d expect: everyone from wealthy male Tesla owners to wealthy male entrepreneurs. So far, Candela has sold roughly 150 of its C-8 powerboats. Of those customers, only two have been women.
My demo on the Bay lasts for a couple hours. Tanguy de Lamotte, Candela’s US CEO, captains the helm for most of it. He drives in smooth, flowing arcs across the water, carefully lining us up so photographers can snap striking shots and drone footage with San Francisco landmarks in the background. Eventually, I drive the C-8 for maybe 15 minutes or so. Overall, it’s a breeze to pilot (admittedly, I am testing it on a calm day, so the choppiness is already minimal). Push forward on a lever to adjust the throttle and steer with a small wheel at the helm. The C-8’s top speed is capped at 30 knots (35 mph).