By: Scott Way
We appreciate a good weird boat. We never tire of boating's seemingly unwavering desire to push the limits of what's possible (and what's reasonable, depending on your viewpoint). Watching the actualization of the unimaginable is a tradition in boating, and it rarely disappoints. Which brings us to the latest vessel to breach the surface of naval architecture (or stay below, as it were): the Platypus Craft Swordfish 40.
The name is quite eccentric, but that can be easily justified. It's quite a vessel. French company Platypus Craft designed the 40 foot concept to double as a planing day boat that, when activated, drops a semi-submersible passenger pod below the surface, giving up to 8 passengers the option to cruise both above or below the surface. An achievement in luxury engineering that begets some quizzical head-tilting looks, it's a blend of form and functionality not heretofore seen.
The project is the culmination of two French visionaries: François-Alexandre Bertrand, president and founder of Platypus Craft, a specialist in the design of semi-submersible boats, and Alain Grandjean, president and founder of L2 Concept, an engineering firm that designs concept sports cars and small submarines. For Bertrand, his first production-level sub Blue Ocean Edition hit the market in 2019. Now, Platypus and L2 Concept will embark together to meld the Platypus Swordfish into a visionary luxury tender.
According to the designers, the hull takes inspiration from the 1970's Citroën SM. Side by side, you can see the connection.
The boat will be available in both electric and gas versions, and will have a top speed of 40 knots in 'surface mode' and 12 knots with the pod submerged. She will have a cruising speed of 18 knots, and a range of 115 nautical miles at 7 knots.
As for the tech, this is where the Platypus Swordfish shines in a true representation of its name; a quirky mix of two unique objects that somehow become functional when fused together. In 'planing mode,' the submersible pod acts as a trimaran, creating an additional planing surface to compliment the existing 12 foot beam. When the pod is submerged, the mother vessel becomes essentially a catamaran and leaves pod-dwellers with a commanding viewing position. Those above the surface have an openable plexiglass structure, leather armchairs, and a look-through cockpit that provides shelter when closed and exhilaration when open to sun and spray.
The electric performance figures are achieved thanks to 2x 500 kW engines and 400Kwh batteries with a Z transmission-drive. In its hybrid format, it features 2 inboard V8 gas engines of 900HP each coupled with 2x80Kw electric motors.
Hull construction, like everything in its conceptualization, is a hybrid, and will blend aluminum framing with carbon fibre laminates. The design is also environmentally conscious: hulls will be built in a sandwich structure using a wooden core. The builder, a subsidiary of L2 Concept based in Antibes, France, has expertise in building concept cars and submarines that will no doubt prove advantageous when transferring concept to reality. The factory unit has created other notable submarines like the Aurora for American firm Seamagine.
Platypus Craft is said to be in negotiations with clients in the U.S with the hopes of starting construction on the first production-level models in early 2021. The aim would be to unveil the Swordfish at the Monaco Yacht Show 2021.
The price for turning the Platypus Swordfish from concept to your ultimate yacht tender is €3.8m (or a little over $5 million U.S)– not exactly entry level for a 40ft sportboat, but also the only boat that allows for a (voluntary) submerged experience.
You can see a prototype of the Platypus concept from designer François-Alexandre Bertrand below: