Rodrigo Silveira has been designing custom jet skis for the past eight years. Now, he’s branching out and using composites to make his own line of personal watercraft.

Silveira’s company, Silveira Group, has developed the Samba XRS, a watercraft made largely from carbon fiber. Silveira notes the composite material is exactly what he needed to achieve his main goal: maneuverability. “Personal watercrafts are getting bigger, and are more about going from point A to B. If you want maneuverability, it’s tougher to achieve with big watercraft,” he says. “You see a lot of riders trying to do stunts or tricks, but because of their massive weight, the rider doesn’t have that control they need. Having a machine that is so small and so lightweight gives the rider more instinctive body control.”

Carbon fiber has helped achieve that control and as a result, the XRS comes in at about 34 pounds. “We wanted the rider to really have the most control of the machine, and we knew we had to make it as light as we could to do that. That’s why we turned to making it out of carbon fiber,” Silveira says.

This includes implementing the high-strength composite into unusual parts. The ride plate, which is the equivalent of an automotive chassis, is usually made from aluminum. Silveira cites the increased costs of mass production with carbon fiber have been the main reason for this, and he hopes this is one way to buck the trend.

The manufacturing process begins with creating a 3D model, then a wet lay-up for the mold. For the part itself, the company used prepreg and five layers of carbon fiber material, which Silveira says makes for a straightforward, easy lay-up. The mold is then heated in an autoclave for about an hour at 180 degrees and another hour at 250 degrees to cure it. “The first hour is used to soften the resin so it will flow into the right places in the material. The second hour is curing that resin,” Silveira says.