Solar-powered watercraft saves lives

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

One day, Ross Kemp was hit by a white van and he hurt his leg really bad. In order to strengthen it, he spent several long hours in a lifeguard training course. Usually, lifeguards have some water equipment  – like surfboards, jet skis, and donut floats – to save lives. While this gear does help, Kemp realized something was off, and he was not impressed.

Lifeguard jet ski
The new high-tech ASAP watercraft.

“While doing my training, I found it incredibly hard to tow a body in the water and started looking at rescue equipment,” says Kemp, “[it] was quite outdated and very traditional.”

Lots of equipment, like the jet ski, took too long to warm up and get started, or moved extremely slow. He knew there had to be something better than an old ski boat with a lifeguard sticker slapped onto its side and bandaged donut floaties, so he did something about it.

Kemp invented a watercraft called “As Soon As Possible” (ASAP), which is a perfect name for the vehicle’s function. It combines elements of a water ski, surfboard, and something called a catamaran, which is a well-balanced boat. Unlike traditional equipment, ASAP only needs one person to get started. It doesn’t take a long time to get revved up and ready for action, either. As soon as a lifeguard jumps aboard, he can be darting across the water in seconds! He can get to someone… as soon as possible!

Ever notice how traditional water skis skip along the water? I know it looks fun, but that same bounce makes it take that much longer for lifeguards to get to a drowning person. In order to overcome this lag, ASAP has a V-shaped underbelly, which allows for a smooth and speedy ride. The lack of skipping also means it’s much safer to pull a person back to shore.

The best part about ASAP is that it’s completely solar-powered, so many lifeguard agencies don’t have to waste their money on expensive gas to power the sleek machines. Kemp hopes many more lives will be saved because of his invention.

Images courtesy of ASAP watercrafts.