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Built for comfort and speed

A PERTH company has taken the pain out of canoeing by inventing comfort-seated canoes that come with quiet electric motors.

In what Jet Canoes believes is a world first, the recently launched electric motors, known as Vorta Marine Electric Jets, are sold separately or as part of its comfort offering – the jet canoe.

The Vorta is a quiet, lightweight, non-polluting engine that propels a canoe to walking speed.

The jet took more than two decades to develop, according to Jet Canoes founder Hans Zwaan.

“Everybody said we couldn’t do this. Academics and other people we consulted along the way said it wouldn’t work,” Mr Zwaan said.

“And some of our models didn’t; they blew up. But we got there in the end.  Now that we’ve done this we can sell this worldwide, and we’re in the process of doing that.”

Mr Zwaan said he and his son had wanted to design a motor that would make canoeing a much more relaxing leisure activity and provide an opportunity for people who are not so fit to enjoy Perth’s waterways.

“For someone who is not very fit but wants to enjoy the water this is marvellous,” Mr Zwaan said.

Weighing just 13 kilograms the engine has been built from scratch at its Bayswater premises.

“Everything, from the nuts and bolts, we designed and made here,” Mr Zwaan said. “We believe that if you set out to do something you’ve got to do it yourself.”

But it wasn’t an easy task. In all 16 different motors were designed until Mr Zwaan and his son, Craig, were confident that the motor was quiet enough and would not pollute the water.

“We tried a two-stroke motor but my son said that it polluted too much. We had a four-stroke motor but again, he said it polluted too much, even though it was compliant with the laws,” Mr Zwaan said.

The company has started to market the engine and the jet canoe through trade shows.

“A lot of people come up and say what a great idea it is that we’ve made an esky for the canoe,” Mr Zwaan said. “But that’s because nothing like this has been done before and it’s a matter of explaining to people what it is.”

The Vorta retails for about $5,000 and Mr Zwaan believes there is significant sales potential.

The company is in discussions with an international operator to distribute the Vorta worldwide.

The company’s canoes are also being marketed as a comfortable alternative for water sport enthusiasts.

It comes with moulded click-in seats to give it an armchair-like quality and has been designed for stability.

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