Hydrofoil car makes a cross-channel splash

The head of Rinspeed, Frank Rinderknecht, has broken the world record for crossing the English Channel in a hydrofoil car.

The cross-channel trip – achieved in 193 min 47 sec – took place on 26 July from Dover in Kent to the French town of Sangatte.

‘It was like a giant slalom on an Alpine mogul piste,’ said Rinderknecht. ‘The only difference was that it was not flexible poles we had to get round but enormous tankers and container vessels.’

The record was broken in the Rinspeed Splash – a new concept in amphibious vehicles that was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004. Usually amphibious cars displace the water like a boat, but the Splash skims the water on extendable wings like a hydrofoil.

Certain changes had to be made to convert the original vehicle, so Rinspeed employed Swiss engineering specialists, Esoro, and Bayer MaterialScience.

The main design modification involved the wings, which had to be reinforced. To guarantee dimensional stability, the moulds were cut from moulded polyurethane foam.

The 140bhp WeberMotor engine can take the Splash up to 50mph (80kph). At that speed even small waves can feel as hard as rock. To supply sufficient power for the maiden voyage, WeberMotor supplied a new version of its lightweight, low-consumption, environmentally friendly two-cylinder engine. This compact power package produces 140bhp/103kW at 7,000rpm, and generates maximum torque of 150Nm at just 3,500rpm.