AMPHIBIANS - Sealegs with AWD
Sealegs boats can now tackle more extreme environments with All Wheel Drive option
New Zealand’s inflatable amphibious boats Sealegs are promising to conquer even more challenging terrain with the added agility of All Wheel Drive (AWD) capability.
With the front and two rear wheels driving, Sealegs can reportedly now scale steep river banks and beachheads.
This new option is available on Sealegs amphibious boats built from May 2010 onwards and means that an additional wheel motor is added to the front wheel.
"Having all three wheels driving provides additional traction to significantly increase the amphibian’s capabilities on steep slippery inclines or when traveling across heavy mud or quagmire," said Sealegs.
Engaging AWD from rear-drive happens at the flick of a switch when stationary.
According to the manufacturer, while rear-wheel-drive mode allows greater top speed, AWD delivers the greatest agility, albeit with the top speed reduced by 33 per cent.
"For easier maneuvering with AWD activated, Sealegs runs in limited-slip mode, which makes the craft very capable in most situations," said Sealegs.
"When maximum traction is required, a quick push on the button on the hydraulic joystick engages full diff-lock mode. This allows all driving wheels to turn at the same rate for reduced wheelspin and is generally only required for a few seconds when climbing over a beach lip or shelf," said the company.
Sealegs said it listed AWD as an option as most recreational customers probably won’t need its added traction, citing that there are more than 400 Sealegs boats worldwide with standard rear-wheel-drive.
"In fact, simply reducing tyre pressure to minimum inflation (approx 4 to 6psi) will provide a significant improvement in traction," said Sealegs. "Other Sealegs owners may face more challenging terrains and that’s where the AWD option will be in demand. AWD is in its element on marginal beaches with soft sand, shingle or pebbles.
In those conditions it is only needed for a short amount of time when exiting the water."
According to the company, the AWD option is not able to be retrofitted to existing Sealegs boats and is only available for new-builds.
The Sealegs manufacturer envisages that AWD will appeal mainly to anyone who encounters the most challenging beaches, mud and slippery terrain, so it will increase Sealegs’ appeal to more users in more environments.
AWD can be ordered as an option for a standard Sealegs model or the Extended Run Time (XRT) variant. The hydraulic motors on standard Sealegs have a run time of 30 minutes but with XRT, the operating time is unlimited.
A spokesperson from Australian distributor Sirocco Marine said general Sealegs owners don’t need XRT as they only use land-drive for mainly launch and retrieval. The XRT option is to ensure the craft is equipped for more demanding work environments and heavier-duty cycles —
where a longer run time is required — and typically used by rescue and emergency services, military and commercial operators.
For further information, phone (02) 9552 3366
6.1m D-Tube: Approx $91,000 (AWD): $89,000 (RWD)
6.1m RIB: Approx $91,000 (AWD); $89,000 (RWD)
7.1m RIB: Approx $126,000 to $127,000
Extended Run Time (XRT) option: Add $10,000
Models: 6.1m D-Tube; 6.1m RIB; 7.1m RIB
Beam: 2.31m (D-Tube); 2.46m (6.1m RIB): 2.61m (7.1m RIB)
Weight: 1090kg (D-Tube); 990kg (6.1m RIB); 1180kg (7.1m RIB)
Outboard max HP: 115 (D-Tube and 6.1m RIB); 150hp (7.1m RIB)
People: 6 (D-Tube and 6.1m RIB); 8 (7.1m RIB)
On-water speed: Approx 35kts
Land power: 25hp Honda four-stroke
Photos: Sealegs can now tackle soft sand and steeper inclines in AWD mode; Shingle and pebble beaches are also traversable with AWD; A hydraulic motorised front-wheel provides a Sealegs amphibian with AWD capability.
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