UNH Aquacats: A Student-Built Racing Hydroplane

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Project Type: 

Students Involved:

Nick Jenkins UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Tom Morgenthau UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Ben Chase UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Mark Ohanian UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Ryan Shackett UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Adam Giroux UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Nate Dargie UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Advisors:

M. Robinson Swift UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Currently there are vessels called hydroplanes in use as a form of recreation and sport by members of the American Power Boating Association (APBA). The University of New Hampshire Aquacats were formed in 2006 by seven ambitious mechanical engineering undergraduates. The team is the first University of New Hampshire group ever to take on the challenge of designing and crafting a hydroplane vessel as a senior project. The final design made by the Aquacat team, named Project Aquacat, employs a wood hull, which reduces weight and fabrication costs. The design utilizes a picklefork type hull and airfoil properties to minimize water contact during racing. Project Aquacat has a target top speed of 60-70 mph using a 35hp outboard motor. The design was completed at UNH with all the fabrication done in the Chase Laboratory. All of the project fundraising was done on the UNH campus and a nearby food and drink establishment.

The main goals of the project were to design a vessel that combines a feasible budget price and efficiency to meet class specifications. It will be competing as a "Class C" hydroplane which must to meet the specific class qualifications given by the APBA. Plans for a base model were used to map out the design. Modifications were made to optimize the performance characteristics through research and analysis. Upon completion, the boat will be tested for performance results and driver practice. By early summer 2007 it will be entered into a local APBA sponsored race to see how the project fares against APBA veterans.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • UNH Aquacats: a student-built racing hydroplane (2007). Nick Jenkins, Tom Morgenthau, Ben Chase, Mark Ohanian, Ryan Shackett, Adam Giroux and Nate Dargie. Advisor: M. Robinson Swift.