The Whipper Snapper is the smallest hovercraft in our range, and yet it provides the biggest grins!
At Just 2.8m long, you cannot help but smile when you get behind the controls. It’s like driving the hovercraft version of a go kart! Flying over land and water, across grass, sand, mudflats and calm waters – it’s simply a huge amount of fun.
Seats 1 person
Up to 30mph at 15mpg
Powered by Vanguard V-Twin engine
Industry leading noise levels
< 81dbA, 25m, full power
Very easy to drive
Single engine for lift and thrust
Who’s the Snapper for?
We’ve taught kids as young as ten years old to drive Snappers safely, but it’ll also work fine with drivers up to approximately 115kgs - more in reduced capacity. The simplicity of driving is one of the reasons that it’s the hovercraft of choice for virtually every UK hovercraft driving events businesses. But it’s much more than that – the Snapper is fully marine ready, with stainless steel fittings, marine grade wiring and enough flotation built in that it will float even if completely swamped.
You don’t require any license to drive a small hovercraft so you can even teach the kids to drive - under strict supervision of course. Alternatively, it works fine for giving rides to smaller kids – just squeeze them in….
The Snapper can be launched by one person from a simple trailer, can exceed 30mph and does over 25mpg – an afternoons fun will cost you £10 in fuel. Noise levels are very low, maintenance is very simple and the 52 individual skirt segments can be quickly replaced if you do damage one. The whole idea of the Snapper is to provide trouble free fun, and that includes making it very easy to service and look after.
The simplicity of the Snapper doesn’t mean that it’s built to any less quality than any of our larger hovercraft. The glasswork and engineering are all to the spec you’d expect from a much more expensive vehicle.
One of the key differences between the Snapper and it’s larger sibling, The Marlin, is that in the Snapper you sit on a low seat with your knees under you. This makes weight shifting, which is part of the steering control, much more intuitive – ideal for novice drivers.
At just 2.9m long, you cannot help but smile when you get behind the controls. It's like driving the hovercraft version of a go kart! Flying over land and water, across grass, sand, mudflats, ice, snow - it's simply a huge amount of fun.
A smaller version of our Snapper at just 2.6m long powered by a 18bhp Vangaurd Twin 4 stroke engine. Absolutely THE most fun you can have with a Hovercraft!
Want to be wowed?
Try before you buy at regular demonstration days down here at Sandwich - why not come along and try one out?
Further Info & Tech Specs
Below is a full breakdown of everything you might need to know about the Snapper.
The Snapper is powered by a Vanguard 4 Stroke engine. This air-cooled 670cc motor is air-cooled, so it’s very light and simple. It generates 23bhp, plenty for this little craft, and being a commercial-specification industrial engine, it achieves amazing reliability and a very frugal fuel consumption.
It comes with full workshop manual, and parts, servicing and expertise are available from local dealers, of which there are hundreds around the world. This network and availability is extremely important to commercial operators running driving and events businesses using Snappers for hire services. Servicing is simple enough for any competent mechanic to undertake, and we have several video guides for the more tricky jobs.
The Snapper drinks around a gallon (5 litres) of regular fuel each hour, so operating costs for driving businesses are very low and even the 12 litre fuel tank gives great range between fill-ups. Being small capacity, and revving to just 3800rpm maximum, noise levels are very controlled, and being of low sound frequency, does not carry badly.
The Snapper is all about efficiency – low power but light weight means fuel economy, easy performance and low noise. It means components have an easy life, which aids reliability and longevity.
There’s simply no doubt about it – the Snapper and the Vanguard motor is a match made in heaven!
Hull, Buoyancy & Skirt
Hull & Buoyancy
The Snapper is built in-house from a reinforced GRP (Fibreglass) hull. The GRP is backed up with Kevlar and core materials where necessary and is perfect for hovercraft manufacture. The colour is impregnated to a shiny, high-gloss gel-coat, not simply sprayed on. That shiny surface not only looks great, but also means a filthy dirty craft can be brought back to pristine finish simply using a pressure washer and truck-wash – easy! One other advantage that we hope you’ll never need to benefit from, is that GRP is very mendable. Any impacts or accidents which damage the hull can be repaired – usually invisibly - and to a standard as good as new.
Inside the hull, the closed-cell buoyancy foam further backs up the integrity of the structure and provides flotation enough to maintain the craft and driver even were the craft fully swamped.
Ready to fly, the Snapper weighs approximately 165kgs depending on specification so it’s easy to load and unload from the trailer on your own.
Hovering approx. 10” in the air on its ‘finger’ or segmented skirt, the Snapper flies with great ease. This efficiency means that just the skirt ‘tips’ are touching the ground and as a result of this almost frictionless seal, performance is improved and wear reduced. Skirt wear is something that first-time owners are often concerned about but in actual fact, is simply not an issue. Think of the skirt like the tyres on a car. How you drive it and the surface you use it on will effect how long it lasts. The Snapper skirt comprises 64 individual segments which has enormous advantages over a ‘bag/loop’ design used on large hovercraft. Any damage or excessive wear is localised, and quickly and easily repaired – it takes just a couple of minutes to change a segment. Being individual segments means the skirt works more effectively and can seal more fully on the land or water which gives the best possible lift and effortless performance. The chances are that you'll do whole days cruising without ever having to change a single segment. As a guideline, we usually find that most recreational customers using their hovercraft on a mix of land, sand, mud and water will get around two years wear from a skirt, and will use a dozen or so spares during that time. New skirt segments are around £9.00 each and can even be repaired if preferred, which is what many driving events businesses do, using their own sewing machine or sending them back to us for repair (try doing that with the tyres on your car!).
Given the unique characteristics of hovercraft, there’s very rarely a straight answer to a straight question. Even perfectly reasonable questions such as ‘How fast does it go?’ or ‘How much will it carry?’ can be challenging to answer.
We aim to be very modest in our claims and have exceeded all of them in testing. For instance, one of our Snapper owners achieved an average speed of nearly 40mph for a whole hour (ie they actually covered 40 miles in one hour) but this isn’t going to be remotely possible in poor conditions! In many ways, any marine vehicle is the same – but the variation in hovercraft performance is more pronounced and very effected by wind, sea conditions and load, especially as the Snapper is under three metres long! Just as speed varies in such conditions, so of course does fuel economy – another hugely variable average! Take a look at the diagram below, which attempts to show the relationship between weight/surface and wind.
A Snapper will manage around 35mph on smooth water with a competent driver at the controls, into a gentle headwind. In poor conditions, as stated above – 20mph might be realistic, but the same applies to any vehicle, maximum speed quoted can only ever be a guideline. A Snapper cruises at around 25mph with great fuel efficiency and can lift around 115kgs on water. The modest claim of 115kgs is because this is the hovercraft’s ability to get back ‘onto the plane’ should you stop on the water. There’s room in a Snapper to accommodate a single adult with a child in front, and on land, the 115kg limit can easily be exceeded.
Sea conditions are also difficult to recommend as again, load and wind have an equal effect but driver skill also has a major effect on how well the craft will cope with rough water. As a rule, we say that small hovercraft are pretty much as capable as a hard boat of the same size. However, in poor conditions, give me a RIB or SIB anytime!
Broadly speaking, performance is as follows:
- Maximum Speed: 35mph (One up, perfect conditions)
- Cruising Speed: 25mph
- Economy: 20-25mpg (approx. 5-6 litres/hour.)
- Noise: 78dbA at 25m average, cruising speed.
- Maximum Load: Approx 115kg for water starts, more possible on land or if not stopping on the water.
- Operating Conditions: Up to Sea State 3 (approx. half meter waves)
Using your hovercraft
Using your hovercraft
Using your hovercraft, on private land, is entirely a matter for yourself and there’s no need to meet any restrictions on marine use. We supply a lot of Snappers to driving events companies and activity centres, and can supply risk assessments and advice for their operation. The Snapper is built to the standards of the MCA “Hovercraft Code of Practice.”
As far as use in the marine environment is concerned, in the UK at least, there is no legal requirement for a license or qualifications to drive either a boat or hovercraft. However, like any other boat, it's crucial you prepare properly for its use. Hovercraft aren't magic, and failure to respect the sea can land you in trouble, whatever you're driving. We advise joining the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain (HCGB) and - initially at least - using your craft with others at organised events. We'll teach you how to drive your new craft as part of the 'handover' when you come to collect it, or your local dealer will, but if you have no maritime experience, we recommend gaining some basic boating qualifications from the RYA, Powerboat II for instance.
Before using your craft in a maritime environment, you should equip yourself adequately with all necessary equipment, clothing and safety gear, register it and carefully check the weather and tidal charts before setting out. If you don’t have relevant safety equipment, consider adding in an optional but recommended 'Coastal Kit' which includes everything you need to use the Snapper in an 'uncontrolled' environment - estuaries, rivers etc.
Where can I use my hovercraft?
Very few of our owners have any issues using their hovercraft in a marine environment. Drive sensibly, with due respect to other water users and public, follow our code of practice, understand what you can and can’t do, where you can and can’t operate your hovercraft - and you should be safe in the knowledge you are breaking no laws.
Now – we’re not lawyers, let’s be clear about that. But the basis in law of our answer ‘anywhere you can use a boat’ can be simply broken down into a couple of points:
- In the UK, we have a Public Right of Navigation (PRN) using a vessel in tidal water.
- Hovercraft are vessels, just like boats (Jetski’s aren’t – legally speaking)
The PRN in tidal waters an uncontested right. For sure, no cases have been found which disputed the existence of a public right of navigation on tidal waters.For full details, take a look at our blog post -Hovercraft and your Public Right of Navigation.
Options & Extras
Davit (lifting) points and/or extra tie down points.
28bhp engine upgrade
Arctic (cold weather) kit
Coastal Kit (Buoyancy Aid, Flare kit, VHF Fire Extinguisher)
Chrome Kit (Blades, hatches & cleats)
Interior deck lighting
Teak effect flooring
Spares Kit (5 litres oil & filter, steering & throttle cable, blades, belt, 15 skirt segments, skirt clips and ties, ‘P’ clips)
Each craft has a primary 'hull' colour (hull/engine cover) and secondary 'trim' colour (duct cover, screen)
Standard Colours - Red, Orange, Yellow (2 options,) Green, Blue (various,) Black, White. (we recommend white hull for hot climates.)
Metallic/fluorescent and metalflake colours. Alternatively craft can be Vinyl wrapped into brand colours/camouflage etc.
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