Offroad transportation

New ‘amphibian’ ATV equally fast on water and land

You’re bouncing along the dirt track at your hunting lease in your ATV when you arrive at the lake and observe a big bass jump about 100 yards from shore. You’d really like to catch that fish, but you’d have to return to camp and retrieve your canoe or john boat. By then, the big fish would be long gone.

Unless the ATV you were riding was a GIBBS Quadski. Then you would just drive it into the lake until it floated, apply the brake, and push a button. The wheels would retract in about three seconds and you could speed 45 mph to where you last saw the fish. No guarantees you would catch it, however.

The GIBBS Quadski is billed by its inventors as the world’s first high-speed amphibian, traveling as fast in water — 45 mph — as on land. Priced at about $40,000, it is on display through Monday at the Miami International Boat Show, and you can buy one at RIVA Motorsports in Pompano Beach.

Weighing about 1,300 pounds and a little more than 10 feet long, it has a fiberglass composite hull propelled by a jet drive system that sucks water in and pumps it out. It is powered by a 140-horsepower, four-cylinder, water-cooled BMW Motorrad engine and transmission.

Like most ATVs, it is not street-legal, but co-inventor Neil Jenkins says it meets all U.S. Coast Guard requirements for a recreational boat.

“This is something nobody else had done before,” Jenkins said.

The original idea for the Quadski emerged in the 1990s after New Zealand entrepreneur Alan Gibbs bought a waterfront farm on a harbor with a huge tidal range.

Frustrated that he could only launch his boat at high tide, Gibbs partnered with Jenkins, a British aerospace and automotive engineer, to develop a high-speed amphibious vehicle.

The partners spent $200 million and about 15 years to bring the Quadski to market. The craft is assembled in Auburn Hills, Mich., and tested near Stuart.

To learn more, stop by Booth 1968 of the boat show at the Miami Beach Convention Center or visit

Read more Outdoors stories from the Miami Herald

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