The Commuter Sport by Iguana Yachts is an amphibious vehicle which can move on both land and sea. It is powered by outboard engines on the transom and an electric motor, which powers tracks to move on the beach
by Niccolò Volpati
The first time that I sailed in the Caribbean I managed to capsize a tender. We were anchored and I had to take a married couple onshore to go to a restaurant. I got the disembarkation manoeuvre completely wrong: as the sea was particularly calm, I positioned the tender parallel to the beach as soon as I was on the water. But just as the passengers stood up to step off the tender, a wave appeared, which was probably caused by a large yacht passing.
The result was that the small inflatable flipped over, and the two fell into the water fully dressed. All in all they took it better than they could have, and they forgave me. That would never have happened with an Iguana Yachts boat.
They are very special boats, including the Sportversion of the Commuter, which I tried out at Cannes. Its interesting feature is that it is equipped with three engines. Two are outboards which are fitted to the transom – in the version we tried it was two Mercurys each developing 200 horsepower – while the third is an electric motor that powers two tracks so that it can also move easily on the beach, and even on rocks.
For our test, the Commuter Sport was “moored” on the beach at Cannes, right in the middle of the promenade, and just across from the convention centre. We climbed on board up the retractable ladder, and we went into the sea using two buttons that seemed as easy to use as a joystick for manoeuvring.
When the boat was in the water, we lowered the outboard using the trim and we closed up the tracks, again using an electric control. It feels like hauling up the undercarriage after a plane takes off. As long as the boat rests on its tracks, even if sea water is already touching much of the hull, it is completely stable and fixed to the ground. Then the stern drive is lowered and the outboard is turned on and only then are the tracks raised.
That is how it changes from one propulsion method to another without any fear of ending up at the mercy of wind and waves. It handles well once in the water. That is because of the waterlines, the deep V in the bow and a bow that is very vertical, so much so that it nearly tilts backwards. It is also the result of a beam that is not too excessive.
The Commuter Sport is designed to sail, and not for spending days on board. It is very much a marine vessel, something that we realise both when we go through the modest waves that the Gulf of Cannes has for us, and also when we cross bow waves, which are decidedly more difficult. But what I liked about the hull is not just how it behaves on the waves. It is also very easy to handle, and there is a high level of comfort. This is also thanks to its fittings, such as the seats, which can be electrically adjusted and sprung, so as to make any trip across the waves much nicer.
The top is also adjusted electrically. You can have it higher in parasol mode, or lower it so that it rests on the windscreen, and in that way the whole console is more protected.
The pair of Mercurys give thrust and power. The tracks, which are closed within the hull, don’t affect performance, because you only need 3,900 rpm and sixteen knots to start planing. At top speed, the GPS shows over 35 knots, and that means that you have a nearly 20-knot range to choose the cruising speed you want. And fuel consumption figures are also reassuring, because they only exceed 100 litres per hour when you do over 30 knots. If you are happy to go at 25 knots, then you need less than 70 litres, and to do 20 knots you only just need a little more than 50.
We headed back to the beach just as soon as I had finished doing manoeuvres, turning and accelerating. I wanted to try and see how easy it is to land on the beach. They advised me to lower the tracks early, since they don’t impede your progress through the water, not even at low speed.
It turns out to be true, surprisingly perhaps, but that is how it is. I would have expected that having two such bulky attachments in the water would reduce handling, but it actually feels even easier to steer the boat. It is all very simple. You just have to continue at minimal speed, and as soon as you hit the bottom, you push the two buttons for the electric engine. The front of the boat rises, not because it is going wrong, but just because the seabed comes up and as soon as you leave the water, you go back to being horizontal on the beach.
There are two buttons for the electric motor driving the tracks because in that way you can steer the boat more easily. To turn right or left when you are on land, you just have to activate one of the buttons to move one track and not the other. It is easy to get the knack of this, and I even try my hand at parking the boat at the exact spot we started out from a couple of hours earlier.
Commuter Sport – Iguana Yachts
HULL: LOA 9.25 m •Maximum beam 3.10m •Light displacement 4000 kg • Fuel tank volume 380 l •Water tank volume 50 l
MAIN PROPULSION: Mercury 2×200 cv • Outlet mechanical power 149kW (200 cv) • Swept volume 3.4 l•6 cylinders 64° V shaped •Bore & Stroke 92mm X 8 mm • Gear ratio 1.85:1 • Dry weight 220 kg
EC CERTIFICATION: CAT C per 8 people
PRICE:598,000 € (as standard)
1400 Caen, Francia
33 662 576162
(Iguana Yachts, boat on the beach – Barchemagazine.com – Gennaio 2019)