Ross' Innovation Ready to Rescue

A person in water on a board. There are onlookers in the background.

Rescue jet boards have saved lives around the world, reaching people faster than a boat could launch. Founded by alumnus Ross Kemp, ASAP Water Crafts design, develop and manufacture electric-powered personal jet boards.

The towing power of these crafts makes them effective for single-person sea rescue, and they can also be used for leisure activities. Ross studied Industrial Design and Technology and graduated in 2014. As part of the course, he was challenged to design something new, and then develop, test, and prototype it. 

Ross was a member of the lifesaving club at Loughborough and after experiencing how difficult it was to tow somebody back to safety in water, he began looking at rescue equipment. He thought it would be great to have a powered board you could launch straight away, anywhere, to reach somebody in water quicker.

Having designed the first prototype as part of his course, he graduated and got his first design job working as an engineer at the UK vacuum brand Vax. He was keen to continue his work on his rescue jet board and Ross then secured a place in The Studio, the University’s start-up incubator hub. He suddenly received lots of support and backing to turn his design idea into a commercial product, formulating and growing his business with their guidance.

During this time Ross participated in a BBC TV show called Be Your Own Boss, where contestants pitched their ideas to two famous entrepreneurs, Richard Reed (Co-Founder, Innocent Smoothies) and Sir Richard Branson (Chairman, Virgin). Ross finished as one of the finalists in the competition and received mentoring from the entrepreneurs.

Richard Branson suggested Ross should take his electric jet boards to Australia and test it with lifeguards there. Richard organised a Virgin flight for Ross to Australia, where he rented a camper van and drove thousands of miles up and down the east coast of Australia testing his rescue jet board. It was this testing that allowed him to escalate his idea to production. 

Fast forward seven years and ASAP Water Crafts has production facilities in Nottingham where they design and manufacture a range of three rescue and leisure electric jet boards. Ross credits the success of his business to the support he received from Loughborough University and from Richard, as this gave him the confidence to quit his job and pursue his dream. 

From rescue organisations to boat owners and water sport centres, the jet boards have now been bought by customers around the world. The Wave Jam leisure jet board has been named as the ultimate water toy and has been enjoyed on water adventures globally, too.

Ross says that his experience at Loughborough has been extremely life changing. He met his partner Jude at the Students’ Union and they are now expecting their first child together. Congratulations both.