by Steve Lague

The growing popularity of the kayak as a specialist fishing vessel has seen this humble watercraft undergo a raft of changes in recent times. For nearly 4000 years the kayak, which was first used by Alaskan natives to hunt and fish in the inland lakes, rivers and coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean, remained virtually unchanged. While the modern kayak does not look that different to the very first ones built they have been propelled into the 21st century with the addition of new technologies designed to extend their range and make them easier to use.
It all started with the introduction of foot pedals that enable anglers to troll or move without putting down their gear. Then we saw the introduction of electric motors that increased the range these vessels could cover. Now the jet propelled kayak has arrived
Double Bay Marine Group Pty Ltd, which is the exclusive sales agent for south-east Asia region, revealed the Aquanami Jet Angler  for the first time in Australia at the Sydney International Boat Show this week.
Aquanani was founded by US space engineer Mike Rui who developed a passion for jet kayaks over a decade ago. He built his first electric whitewater kayak and body board in 2005,  took them to the Miami International Boat Show and won the Innovation Award, the top prize at the largest Boat Show in America. He has been refining and improving them ever since. Last week, Boat Advice was invited to take the Aquanami Jet Angler for a test drive.

The Aquanami Jet Angler is available in one and two seat configurations with the latter 3.6m long (the single seat variant is 50cm shorter). Each seat has adjustable footrests so you can set it up to suit any size passenger. It is foam-filled, making it virtually unsinkable, and has several storage compartments, including a waterproof compartment in the console for mobile phones, wallets, keys and any other valuables. There are six mounting points for rod holders and other fishing accessories. It is also fitted with a bilge pump (something I found very handy after getting a little over-confident surfing on a boat wake). The console has enough space to fit a combination fish finder/GPS. You can also fit a small electric anchor.

Both models are powered by a 300cc water-cooled four-cylinder petrol engine that generates a whopping 17.5hp and uses water jet propulsion. The engine has an electric start and is operated via a joystick in the middle of the console. There is a stop and start button on the joystick and a trigger accelerator. The Jet Angler is capable of speeds of up to 25 knots, which is around 40km/h. It has an built in 7.5-litre petrol tank that will give you a range of around 160kms.

The Jet Angler may have been designed specifically for fishing and hunting but they are also a lot of fun to drive, and yes, you do need a boat licence. It is extremely easy to operate and surprisingly stable, I am assured you can stand up on them but could not see any good reason to test the validity of that claim. It took about a minute behind the wheel (well joystick) before I was feeling comfortable enough to drive it flat out, turning hard and surfing the wake of any boat that came within our vicinity. There is a well-placed hand strap on both sides of the board so you can hang on with the hand you are not using to drive. It is pretty hard to tip on flat water, though as I eluded to earlier I did manage to bury the nose in pretty deep, which resulted in my going for an involuntary swim, riding down a boat wake. While my swim was because of my own doing, it did show that it is not easy to lift the nose of the kayak so some caution would be required on open water.
Aquanami Jet Angler 4ON THE TRAILER
The Jet Angler weighs just under 110kg so it can be carried on roofracks on medium and large SUVs but it will take at least two people to lift it up.
There is a fold-up trailer, which is sold separately for $1700, available. It is designed to carry two kayaks and can be configured to carry up to four. The trailer folds up quite small making it easy to store at home. The total weight of the trailer and kayaks, even if you are carrying four, is less than 750kg so does not require brakes and can be towed by most cars. While the bottom two kayaks can be floated onto the trailer, if you were carrying four you would need to lift them onto the top rack.

With a price tag of $14,495 for the two-man version and $13,495 for the smaller model the Jet Angler is not cheap but you are getting far more than a kayak. It can be set up as a specialist fishing vessel that can take you to locations even inaccessible by boat as well as providing hours of fun for the entire family. It would be perfect for family holidays or make a great accessory for a bigger boat.

(Two Seater)
Price: $13,495
Dimensions: 3.6m x 0.96m
Height: 410mm
Dry weight: 113 kg
Recommended Max. Load: 180kg
Top speed approx: 45km/h (two people); 52 km/h (one person);
Engine: 17.5hp water-cooled four-stroke.
Fuel: 7.5-litres