In every issue we seek out to our northern inventors, doers and makers. We’re excited to introduce the innovative Marcel LaFond, founder of Symphony Electric Boats – an internationally admired and sought after product and company…right out our back door, in Duluth, MN.
Frank Lloyd Wright was a strong influence on Symphony Boat Founder Marcel LaFond, whose parents broke ground on the construction of a Wright Usonian house on the day he was born.
LaFond is not formally trained in design but has carried a fascination for how others solved a design challenge and how he might do it if he were given the task. This came about in part with numerous hours of taking apart broken or old items as a child. But being raised on a Minnesota lake also gave opportunity to break down the elements of a boat under sail, a propeller thrusting a motorboat forward, or the simple act of holding one’s breath under water.
In the 1980’s he built an all-electric car from parts of a Volkswagen Beetle. Over the decades he studied small craft design and boatbuilding in Maine, he worked with motor yacht designs and years later he turned to aircraft…When all was said and done the Symphony Boat Company finally germinated.
“I saw the need to make new watercraft that were gentler on the environment and that fostered more positive interaction between boater and waterway. Just like the quiet electric motor that has complemented the company’s philosophy, Symphony Boat is silently gaining relevance in the world of boating. A plan to launch the boats, you see, was/is a business decision. The electric vehicle industry is one of growth. Together with partners Torqeedo U.S. and Lamboo Technologies, Symphony Boat Company is poised to become the Tesla of the boating industry”, says LaFond.
LaFond dreamt of the elegant classics of the early 20th century and how to bring that charm and romance of boating to a more efficient and environmentally friendly future. And like the Wright house he grew up in, good design that endured was the ultimate goal.
The Six-1 Conductor (a.k.a. the Allegro Project) is the first American installation of the Torqeedo 80 hp Deep Blue inboard all-electric motor. With an approximate displacement of 2400 lbs., the motor will push her up to 27 mph. Allegro’s look and design were an attempt to make an elegant, yet minimal boat with the durability of the aluminum outer hull, which lends a decidedly modern tone to the final composition, and the bamboo, wood, and hull shape itself, to evoke the sleek look of a classic barrel-back runabout.
Her V-bottom hull shape gets shallow as you go aft, and with her beamy stern she jumps to plane effortlessly with 6 passengers. Design elements go beyond the bamboo and electric propulsion. Seating in the round so people can face each other contributes to more social engagement. They are very easy to handle making them perfect for high-end resorts where guests can rent one for a unique experience.
One of our first launches as with two women in northern Minnesota who wanted to silently take in the beautiful wilderness of those northern lakes. I thought that was really cool!
Another really fun project this winter has been the development of a tiny house boat. At 20’-6” long and boxy as you might expect, it still has big personality. At about 130 square feet of insulated cabin, it can be the first boat in the spring and the last one out in the fall. In our northern climate, this helps wring out as much of the season as possible in comfort. A tiny stove/fireplace designed for ocean cruising sailboats warms the cabin on cold days. The insulated roof also blocks the heat on hot summer days.
“These boats have strong appeal to all kinds of adventuresome folks but it should be a hit with kayakers and sport fishermen on the St Louis estuary and all lake lover alike,” states LaFond. Motors are an option too says LaFond, as he designs, builds and configures the interiors on an individual basis.
Look for other off-beat designs coming out of the design and build shop in Duluth “We are truly excited about our future and invite you to check out one of these beautiful watercrafts as part of electric vehicle future” LaFond says. More information at www.symphonyboat.com
Marcel La Fond
IN HARMONY WITH NATURE