2016 was quite a year - so, what's coming in 2017?

added by russ on January 6, 2017 at 06:05

USA, Philippines, The Bahamas, Finland, Sweden, Republic of  Ireland, Scotland, Portugal & The UAE. As well as numerous UK sales, off the top of my head, this is a list of the countries we sent hovercraft to in 2016.

Constantly developed and improved products, better marketing and the weak pound have all combined to make 2016 a pretty good year business-wise. Whilst British exports are (for now!) hamstrung by her membership of the European Union, as usual we lost some fantastic enquiries to ridiculous trade tariffs  - for instance, an order to provide 10 Snappers for an events company in Brazil fell through when the client discovered the duty rate is 80%!

So the long term forecast following the 'Brexit' referendum of June 23rd 2016 is good for British manufacturers and exporters, once we’re able to make our own trade deals with emerging nations and commonwealth countries – many of which are prime markets for a company making luxury toys and providing alternative transport methods!

What I have promised myself is that in 2017, we'll find distributors for our products in Australia - we get numerous enquiries, and having sold a few hovercraft there (plus two years of running a hovercraft driving events business in Queensland, helping out in the 2010 floods and enjoying cruises organised by the Australian Hovercraft Club!) we know what an amazing time you can have with them down under!

So – what’s new for this year? Work continues on our larger 6-seat craft which we hope to have in production by early summer, the new Marlin will likewise be launched, though that’s likely to be later in the year. We’ve got some new products and R&D projects underway which will further improve existing Marlin, Snapper & Coastal-Pro craft as well. New website, some competitions, HCGB cruise diary to be published - oh and BHC will once again be providing big laughs and hilarity, myself racing a Formula One hovercraft in the European Hovercraft race series (at my age I should know better but these things are kind of addictive you know!) So - lot’s happening! make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to be kept up to date, and our Youtube channel for all things hovercraft-related!

Warwick Jacobs resigns from the Hovercraft Museum Trust.

added by russ on October 19, 2016 at 10:21

Sad news from the hovercraft museum this weekend when we heard that Warwick Jacobs has resigned from his role as a trustee and curator.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that there would be no museum without Warwick. Back in 1986, in an attempt to save the last of the Hovertravel SRN-5’s, he approached the ‘Hovercraft Society’ and successfully called in favours and sponsors to store the 40ft hovercraft ‘here there and everywhere’ until a permanent site could be found. From this beginning, the collection grew quickly, found its home at HMS Daedalus, and in 2000 took possession of two of the monstrous SRN-4’s which had been plying their trade across the channel for over 30 years. More recently, with these important pieces of British transport history facing the likelihood of being scrapped (issues with the ownership, and tenure of the site…) Warwick again took a lead in winning a stay of execution whilst alternatives are sought. None of this would have happened without his flair, drive and ambition – and his knowledge of the history of hovercraft is well into ‘obsession’ territory! I know I speak for many volunteers when I say it’s a terrible shame that the face of the museum (Warwick is the  ‘Go-To’ man for TV interviews on either hovercraft or the museum itself) has found it necessary to leave the Hovercraft Museum Trust.

This will certainly mean there are challenging times ahead for the remaining trustees, and we truly hope they can continue to match Warwick’s commitment and devotion to this valuable collection.

Everyone here at The British Hovercraft Company would like to thank Warwick for the 30 years of hard work. The place won’t be the same without you!

Warwick (left) accepting an award on behalf of the museum from The Transport trust - with Frances Cockerell & Stuart Wilkinson.


What you may not know is that Warwick is also a very talented, professional  artist. Here's a  framed print he sent our own Emma Pullen on her birthday!

You can see his work HERE


If it quacks like a duck......our '£2,000,000.00" Deal!

added by russ on October 4, 2016 at 09:45

Back in Summer, we received an enquiry which sounded good. Very good in fact. It led to a meeting which, if I weren’t such a cynic, may well have resulted in huge financial loss, imprisonment - or worse.  So, I hope this cautionary tale will read by small business owners and a lesson learned.

We sell hovercraft all over the world so it was no surprise when ‘Alex’ contacted us by telephone from (he said) Russia, keen to know more about pricing, lead times and specifications. After several calls, he made it clear he was the middle-man and his commission was to be considered. The entire deal was worth some £2m, so we agreed 20% for brokering the deal. This is pretty familiar stuff, though the numbers are usually less. At this stage, we were dubious it would go anywhere - we’ve heard these promises before, but if you don’t run with it, you’ll never get the deal will you? One of these big deals has to – eventually – come good!

Alex was somewhat reticent about revealing who the client was, but that’s understandable as he was ostensibly protecting his position with regards a £400,000 commission. He told us the craft were to be used for rental on a frozen lake in Russia where the jet skis and boats were impossible to use in the frozen winter – okay that made sense. He asked us to submit an invoice for the full amount (150 hovercraft totaling £2m) for him to forward to his client who he called just ‘Dmitri.’ Duly sent, we were asked if we could schedule a meeting. ‘Of course’ we said, ‘when would you like to visit us?’ ‘No,’ he told us, ‘Dmitri will be in Milan next week on other business, would you meet him there?’

Some years ago, we started writing the ‘HoveRules’ – a document which now comprises 23 inviolate rules and is growing all the time as we learn more and try not to repeat mistakes we’ve made (I’d recommend that you do it for your own business, if only because it’s very liberating!) Rule number 7 (an early one) is that we don’t travel to meetings to see people we have no trading history with, and that haven’t in some way shown commitment to trade with us.

So why did my wife (and business partner) and I find ourselves on a flight to Milan a few days later? Well, we were due a break and had pondered where to go for a few days to recharge our batteries after a few frantic weeks at work. Easyjet flights £36 return and a 4* hotel at £50/night was cheap enough and – as I said above – if you don’t see it through to its conclusion, you’ll never do the deal will you! At worst, we’d get our break in a city that, otherwise I wouldn’t have found a reason to visit.

On arrival, we were meeting my friend who lives a few hours from Milan. Alex told us we didn’t need an interpreter – he would translate for us as Dmitri spoke only French and Russian. But – as I said at the outset, I’m a cynical type of feller and would rather have a trusted companion translating for me. At this point, we still did not have a surname, a company name, address or any other information – we knew only that we were meeting Alex and Dmitri at the Hotel ME Milan, one of the best in the city. As you can imagine, I was going into this extremely sceptical it was going anywhere.  We arrived at the hotel and some ten minutes later ‘Dmitri’ turned up. He was a short, rotund man, around 55 years old, dressed in an expensive suit and clearly of middle-eastern origin. A firm handshake, confident manner and he took us to the bar where we settled down to business with a drink. I presented him with a bottle of ‘Chase’ – an English Vodka as a gift and he seemed quite appreciative of the gesture (So he should be the stuff is £44 a bottle duty free!) There was no sign of Alex - I still don’t know if that was poor planning or a deliberate ploy. It was therefore very fortunate we’d taken my friend along or god-alone knows what we’d have ‘agreed’ to!

I asked Dmitri how he’d found us and he asked why that was important. I asked him what his full name was, where he was from and whether he had a business card. He wrote a large letter ‘X’ on a napkin and refused to give me a phone number. I asked what he wanted the hovercraft for - he replied it was to rent out through hotels in the Balkan states – a different story than Alex’s. How did he find us? ‘At a racing meeting.’ More nonsense! He asked no technical questions, only vaguely alluding to the fact he would expect a warranty on the craft. Basically, he displayed no interest in the products and wanted to get straight down to how he would pay – at which point the scam was revealed and I acknowledged we had wasted a decent bottle of vodka and a day of our holiday.

He would be paying £500,000 in cash he told us.

Oh. Now, 500 ‘large’ (Realising I was dealing with a crook, I found myself talking all 'Guy Ritchie') isn’t small change. To meet money laundering regulations, I’d need (at least) his full name, proof of where the money had come from and to meet him at my bank in the UK to pay it straight in. Needless to say, this wasn’t what he had in mind at all! Whilst my friend progressed the negotiations a little, I had a chance to look the man over again. He wore a pretty good suit but the shoes, glasses and (give away of giveaways!) wristwatch were all cheap. Unless I’m a very poor judge of character, this wasn’t a truly wealthy man as he purported to be and reinforced my position - we were, to quote the Dragons, ‘out!’ Via our translator, he suggested leaving the cash payment to the end of the deal, when the last craft were delivered -  that the invoice amount would be reduced accordingly (see the problem here, I would have agreed a £500,000 discount on his purchase price for the same number/value of craft and he’d have that in writing) but it was clear it was all about this half million in cash. He got ‘upset’ saying we didn’t trust him (at least he was right about that) and said maybe we should go back to ‘making 10 craft each year’ until we pointed out we build close on 100… he was really quite surprised at that.

We left. Cordially. We shook his hand, wished him the best - and fled.

Afterwards, my friend filled us in with the bits we missed during their (at times) heated conversation but the bombshell came later in the day when he spoke to his father-in-law back in Venice. He clicked his fingers ‘I saw this on television!’ he said – ‘this is a scam being run by a middle-eastern gang. It’s forged money that they want to get into the UK. They’re targeting small UK companies and giving them an attractive ‘order’ that they can’t refuse.’ Known apparently as 'The Milan Scam.'

Finally, all the bits slotted into place. The cash, the man, the structure of payments all supported what he was telling us. We’d have been committing a very serious crime, they’d ‘have’ us hooked and could blackmail or use us in any way they wished. I’ll be clear, there was no way we’d have risked our business or a prison sentence to do this deal – and I’m guessing these are pretty unpleasant people to deal with if you changed your mind later on. My friend received one phone call from ‘Alex’ the day after and told him we couldn’t build the hovercraft quick enough to satisfy their order or some such excuse.

We enjoyed a few days break down in Milan (lovely city by the way!) and flew back to the UK no worse off for the experience, but reiterating Rule 7 to ourselves - we don’t run round after people who haven’t proved their credentials and/or serious intent.

We’ve submitted the information to UK authorities in the hope that exposing the scam may prevent small UK businesses from getting caught in this web. Half a million in cash is a pretty powerful incentive and I can imagine some businesses being overawed by it, to the detriment of clear thinking. The further we went with it the more this ‘deal’ stunk, but we had to see it through and it proved once again that if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck!

** INSANE! ** 230bhp Formula One Racing Hovercraft For Sale!

added by russ on October 3, 2016 at 11:59

With half a dozen UK Formula One national championships under its belt - this racing hovercraft is certainly one of the most successful ever built.

Constructed by its owner, Dan Turnbull, the carbon/kevlar hull is incredibly light (the whole craft weighs around 200kgs) and stuffed so full of power, it can practically ignore the laws of physics! With separate lift and a  Rotax snowmobile thrust engine "'Over 200bhp" (Dan is a Rolls Royce aircraft engineer and you know RR only ever claim power is 'adequate!') it has a power to weight ratio a Bugatti Veyron would kill for. This translates into a 0-60mph time in the supercar league of under 4 seconds! Top speed is ~80mph depending on driver skill and.....commitment! It is genuinely, one of the fastest F1 hovercraft ever built.

With nothing left to prove, Dan is selling this amazing machine to the first person approaching him with £9,950.00 and the lucky owner will be taught how to control and maintain this amazing beast.

A million miles away from what we at BHC supply, we thought it was well worth publicising the sale of this racing hovercraft and seriously, if you want the ultimate thrill, a genuine high tech, performance vehicle unlike anything you've ever driven, look no further! Drop me a line to russ(at)britishhovercraft.com and I'll put you in touch.




A reply to some client questions.

added by russ on September 9, 2016 at 08:39

Copied here because many of the questions are fairly common ones!

All our craft use Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engines.  Built in Japan by Daihatsu, they are low revving four-strokes, which means decent noise levels and very good economy. Snappers use around 4-5 litres of fuel an hour, Marlins maybe 6-7 (much less than a jet ski!) They use regular UK/US pump fuel, no need for anything special.  Both will get around 2-4 hours from a fuel tank (12 litres on Snapper, and 25 on a Marlin) but of course it depends on conditions, payload, wind and the driver.

Maintenance is (in brief) as follows.

Pre-operation, check the craft over. Visually inspect skirt fix and wear, oil levels, fan condition, belt etc. Takes a couple of minutes per craft.

After a days operation in salt water, wash the craft off thoroughly with fresh water. Allow five minutes per craft.

If skirt needs maintenance, you can change each segment individually (approx. 58 on a Marlin/52 on a Snapper) and it takes just two minutes. The skirt – on water – will last a very long time, you’re likely to get well over a year from them. Sand/Mudflats/gravel obviously wear it faster but its top quality material and designed especially for us by a 'technical materials' company.

At 50 hours, change the oil, adjust tappet clearances, check fuel and air filters, replace if necessary.

How long do they last?

We have customers operating with over 600 hours on their engines, mechanically they are very robust (they are for plant/commercial use remember!) but you may replace ancillaries such as carburetors/coils etc in time. A whole new engine is only £1250.00UK so its not an expensive purchase if the worst happens. I’d certainly hope you got 5-10 years use from the craft, but of course, it depends largely how well they are looked after and the hours they clock up. We keep absolutely everything to build them (of course!) so there's nothing cannot be replaced, even the hulls which (to answer your next question) are built from GRP Fibreglass.

Wave capacity

It's difficult to be too precise about but they are all okay in a ‘chop’ – you must remember they are only small – so whatever you may be comfortable in a small boat of the same size, the hovercraft will be okay too. It’s a common question, and you may find this interesting and useful. http://britishhovercraft.com/UploadedFiles/hovercraft%20performance%20and%20information.jpg Also our FAQ page - http://britishhovercraft.com/Buy-A-Hovercraft/Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx

Which Marlin?

For your use I’d recommend the Marlin ‘Beast’ – it has lots of extras and has more 'kerb appeeal' than the Marlin II Freestyle. The Marlin III is the best of everything, but it costs more money and isn’t really necessary for your purposes.

Marlin II : £9,500.00 - No frills, all thrills hovering!

35bhp Briggs & Stratton Engine

Yellow beacon

Bilge Pump

Jockey Seat for two

Hour meter

Kevlar reinforced floor

Internal Buoyancy foam

Limited range of colours. White hull with either blue or red trim.




The Beast : £11,000.00 - As driven by Jeremy Clarkson!

As above but with the additions of

37bhp Hi-Torque 'Savage' engine.

Rear 'T' Seat - more seating for up to three people.

All-round LED white light and navigation lights.

LED Headlights.

Rubber non-slip flooring.

Improved endplate rudders.

Tacho/Rev Counter.

GPS Speedo/heading compass.

Wide range of hull and secondary colours .



Marlin III : £12,500.00 - The ultimate yacht tender!

As 'The Beast' but with the following additions.

Upgraded, stiffer hull with integrated screen, revised splitter plate to reduce noise and add additional lift, larger receiver area to give improved plenum flow characteristics.



Lots more answers to many more question on our website!





Prices 2016/2017

added by Emma on August 19, 2016 at 06:17

Well, it's been two years since we revised our pricing and we've spent the last week working through all our costs to settle on our new 2016 pricing structure. Whilst some of our products have had to increase in price, others have stayed the same and we've even been able to drop the price slightly on some parts, upgrades and accessories. In all cases,price adjustments have been modest and reflect our production costs – there's no major increases.

We'll continue to monitor our production costs, and where possible, we're quite prepared to reduce prices to keep our products as competitive as they've always been.

These prices come into effect on September 1st 2016 and until then our current pricing applies. So, if you're considering a Snapper or Marlin purchase, grab the opportunity and get your order in before prices increase in two weeks time.

If you would like further information please contact us at emma@britishhovercraft.com

Two driving event craft, Spares and Training for only £8500.00 inc VAT!

added by Emma on August 16, 2016 at 09:27


We have available 2 x single seat hovercraft which are perfect for a corporate events/driving Events Company. Both craft have been fully refurbished by The British Hovercraft Company.

List of work done includes:


  • Hull (underside) of the craft completely re-glassed and sealed.
  • New blades and belt
  • Interior floor recovered with non-slip material
  • Engine serviced
  • New graphics
  • New upholstery and fuel tank cover
  • New wire and P-clips
  • New skirt

This package comes with 1 full replacement sk

irt, a full spares package and training on how to drive and maintain the craft as well as advice on how to set up a corporate track if required.

Alternatively, these fun little craft are just as suitable for belting round a field or garden, can be driven by kids as young as 10 years old (under strict adult supervision!) or for use in sheltered water such as bays estuaries, lakes and rivers. In fact, at this price, they're well worth grabbing if you simply want to scratch that hovercraft itch!

Craft are also available individually at £3950.00 inc VAT.

For any other questions call us on 01304 619820

Hovercraft Capability - Wind, Waves and Weight!

added by russ on August 8, 2016 at 08:40

What are the capabilities of a small hovercraft?

We make modest claims for our craft and have exceeded all of them in practical tests. Our aim is for our customers to understand exactly what their hovercraft is capable of, making for a safe and enjoyable experience. Even more than most vehicles, hovercraft are effected by the load they carry - exceed limits in tough considerations mean that lift and thrust are reduced to the point where the hovercraft cannot operate correctly.  This load capacity is reduced in poor/windy conditions or when travelling over mor edemanding surfaces. Being exposed to such a wide variety of conditions, operating conditions and varied surfaces means that any figures we give as to load and speed can only be at best, an indication. Take a look at the graphic below to better understand the capability of small hovercraft in changing operating conditions. If it's too small you can download a larger version by clicking the link below it.

As usual, if you have any questions, just ask us!


hovercraft interaction between wind waves and weight.jpg (2.19 mb)

The World's Best Hovercraft? What would we buy?

added by Emma on July 13, 2016 at 06:46

The British Hovercraft Company make a range of hovercraft but by no means do we make something for everyone. We often get asked for hovercraft which aren’t in our product range. Like any vehicle, hovercraft come in all shapes and sizes, and we don’t try to cater for every demand – or market. We stick to building the best hovercraft we can, whilst sticking within reasonable budgets to match our customer’s requirements.

But! If money was no object, what would we buy?

Big = Good!  : Griffon TD 8000

Sold all around the world, Griffon Hoverwork manufacture commercial hovercraft from 6 -60 seats. Undoubtedly, the world leaders in large hovercraft, Griffon's largest craft is the TD8000 is a 21m, 1600hp aluminium craft that is capable of 40knots. There's a military version and the Indian Coastguard ordered 12 of these beasts for coastal patrol. Griffon is a huge British success story and this is a truly amazing machine!



Beautiful : Airlift Pioneer MkIII

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Airlift factory in Australia where a Pioneer MkIII was in construction. The attention to detail, the quality of the engineering and that jaw-dropping styling are a result of the simple fact that Company Director Ross McLeod is a genuine artist. The attention to detail is astonishing and I left wanting one really badly. Fast, beautiful and low-noise, if I could have just one hovercraft, this would be it. Although the new Airlift Wildfire would run it close…




High-End : The Slider

The Slider's a lovely looking bit of kit, made in New Zealand, with great styling and a clever lift system. This together with an expensive engine and a labour intensive loop-and-segment skirt means it's very expensive to buy. Shame it’s a two stroke engine, but it's a great looking machine with good performance. Gets a definite thumbs up from us!



Hoverboard - No, I'm not talking about those stupid wheeled electric things that burst into flames and singe your novelty pop socks. They don't hover and they're rubbish (as proven by the fact I haven't seen one since Boxing Day 2015) Anyway, it's 2016, and watching a re-run of Back to The Future II last weekend I realised I still haven’t got my hoverboard! Despite a spectacular hoax last year YOUTUBE VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4vE_vpkr90 I think it might be a little while yet as the technology isn’t even on the horizon. But admit it - it’s worth the wait and you want one don’t you? Badly. And believe me, whoever does manage to crack it will be rich beyond dreams!



Racing Hovercraft : Eurocraft

Designed by Swedish Formula One world champion Magnus Ivanoff, the Eurocraft was a long time in development and drew on the huge experience of a team of European racers. Since then, it has gone on to take numerous European and World championships in the hands of Italian ‘Superstar’ Michele Scanavino and many others.  Constructed from vacuum bagged carbon-fibre/kevlar and powered by tuned snowmobile engines, an F1 Eurocraft can call on over 220bhp….providing simply ballistic performance, demanding God-like driving skill and massive plums. Oh Boy…



Concept Hovercraft : The VW Aqua Hovercraft

Okay, it won’t ever happen and the photo here is computer generated -it's a bit of fun sponsored by VW, the dream of a Chinese student and wouldn’t work. But if it did get built and it did work (you know, we learn how to break the laws of physics) then I may have to reconsider my opinion that VW make good but boring cars!  Hydrogen fuel cells, retractable wheels, superb styling - what's not to love (apart from the dodgy emission figures!)



‘Plane’ Stupid! - WIGS

A hovercraft that flies? Now that’s got to be a good idea! WIG (Wing In Ground Effect) technology was pioneered by the Russians back in the 1960’s with the awesome Ekranoplan ‘Caspian Sea Monster’ and has subsequently made its way into the recreational market with either fully built or (even more scarily!) home built offerings from Universal Hovercraft in the USA.  Flying low above the surface (water if you have any sense) using the interaction between wing and surface, the idea of blatting through the middle of London, weaving between the River Cats, 15ft above the Thames does have a certain hooligan/suicidal appeal!



Historic - The SRN4

There’s been plenty of weird and wonderful designs over the years, and many of them now reside in the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-Solent. Well worth a visit (open Weekends and Wednesdays, see their website for details) and stuffed full of crazy inventions and some wonderful old monsters including the biggest passenger craft ever built, two of the SRN4 cross channel craft operated by Hoverlloyd, Seaspeed and later the joint company, Hoverspeed. They were taken out of service in 2000 but remain an imposing, majestic monster from another age, the like of which we’ll never see again. One of my favourite British inventions of the last century (the Spitfire just edges it out of the number one spot!) the two on display are fighting for their lives in the face of hungry property developers who wish to build flats on the land upon which they stand. I love these beasties – in fact a handbuilt model of ‘Swift’ which once graced the Hoverlloyd MD’s office now takes pride of place in mine!



Well - that's our selection - who knows what we'll end up building in the future? Maybe there's a few ideas here!











Genuinely affordable and dependable hovercrafting with the Coastal-Pro!

added by russ on May 20, 2016 at 05:20

Thought we'd share this nice testimonial sent to us by one of our customers. It's particularly appreciated as Ben is a commercially endorsed skipper and has enormous experience piloting the large Griffon Hoverwork commercial hovercraft. The Coastal-Pro is his weekend fun!

'The Coastal Pro works exceptionally well as a leisure craft whilst maintaining a ruggedness not found in other light hovercraft which allows it to be used in more demanding roles. True "turn-key" hovercrafting, cheap to run, easy to maintain, manoeuvrable in tight confines and stable in a seaway. You won't find another twin engine craft, with the same ability, for the price.'



Ben Avery at the helm of his Coastal-Pro.

Peter Large.mp4 (939.03 kb)






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