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Hydrofoils future impact on sailing

Apr 7, 2021
17
Cape Dory 22 Clear Lake
Hello all
I’m new to Sailboat Ownership Forum. This is my first post. I’m actually a trailer sailor, but I can’t help thinking about the Americas Cup this year. Actually, I can't stop thinking about the Americas Cup over the past 14 years. I’m an old school traditionalist and can’t help believing that hydrofoils are just a gimmick to bring in spectators, plus dollars, to the prestigious Americas Cup event, because of the speed and potential danger the hydrofoils have to offer.
As a small craft sailor, I see hydrofoils about as bothersome as having a jet skis or power boat blasting by me with no consideration.
Does anyone feel hydrofoils are going to have a major impact on sailing?
 

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,833
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
They will and are having an impact, but I don't see it in a negative way as your post implies.

dj
 
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dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,833
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
I almost bought foils for a trimaran I own. They were manufacturing retro fit foils for it and I was considering buying them to play with them. Then decided against it as I've moved on in my sailing world...

dj
 
May 17, 2004
3,485
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
They’re already on more than just AC boats. A couple examples are the moth foiling dinghy -
Moth (dinghy) - Wikipedia
And the Imoca Class - Vendée Globe 2020 preview: New generation foilers will sail on the limit

That’s just a few examples, but it covers everything from sailing dinghy to around the world racer. Pretty much the full spectrum of sailing. I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect them to start making their way into production race boats eventually. More development time and maybe cruising boats will get them too. I’d bet some cruisers wouldn’t mind making the trip from Miami to the Bahamas at 20+ knots.
 
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Jan 11, 2014
7,855
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Elite sailing events like the AC or any of the Round-the-World races are push the technological limits of the sport. Eventually many of the innovations trickle down to our level, from hull design to sail design, to the hardware we all use. The days of the ordinary sailor zipping around the harbor on a 70' boat on foils is a long way off. However, there are development classes like the Moth in which boats are on foils. The advancements in foil design are being seen elsewhere, even surfers are using foiling boards.

Humankind is always pushing technological limits. We sometimes forget how far we have come.
 
Jan 19, 2010
10,024
Hunter 26 Charleston
I’ve been watching the kite surfers here a lot. Already an adrenalized activity... then they go and put foils on them.... dammmmmn. Someone is sure going to go out in a big way but they will be having fun when they do

36B901BF-FB1E-4E4E-81B7-EE7AC62299B6.jpeg
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,951
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
As a small craft sailor, I see hydrofoils about as bothersome as having a jet skis or power boat blasting by me with no consideration.
That's an interesting statement, because, while I believe both Jet skiers and power boaters have a much right to their fun as I do as a sailor, what bothers me about both of those isn't their lack of consideration, but their noise and their wake. Neither of those things come with a foiling sailboat. I understand how you're feeling, but ask yourself, is it just the newness of a tech that you haven't made the effort to understand or is there actually something about it that interferes with your passage through a beautiful day of sailing?

I imagine when Hobie and other fast sailing cats started to pop up around the coastal sailing areas, there were lots of "old" sailors shaking their heads thinking, "I hope this gimmicky phase doesn't last long. It can't really go anywhere and it looks too expensive, they're never going to be seaworthy."

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Nov 6, 2006
9,226
Hunter 34 Mandeville Louisiana
Seems to me that the biggest obstacle for foils on cruising boats is going to be where to find enough room to store enough rum for the 6 or 7 dudes grinding on the hydraulic pumps :yikes:
Seriously, I see a lot of applications in racing and day sailing, but not for cruisers, especially shallow water folks and crab/lobster trap infested waters.
Jet ski dude, " Hold my beer while i go under that boat on stilts!"
 
Mar 20, 2015
2,255
C&C 30 Mk1 Silver Harbour, Lake Winnipeg
I would pay to see some idiot off Vancouver Island, nail a deadhead at speed.:biggrin:
 
Jun 29, 2010
1,250
Beneteau First 235 Lake Minnetonka, MN
Again, another discussion on this. Racing is racing, whether it is cars, motorcycles, power boats, or sailboats. Technology and innovation will always be pushed. People lament about how the AC boats, and foiling in general won't "build the sport". Well, what do you think some young kid, teenager, who sees an AC boat is going to think compared to a 4ksb? They are going to want to do it. Kids like to go fast. They are not going to want to sit around and ghost along at 4-6 kts. So they get a Moth or a Hobie and off they go. Maybe they get involved in high end sailing, maybe they don't. The HS kids that sail at our sailing center probably would like to take a turn on something like that but, 420's are still pretty quick. So, kids see sailing and they give it a try.

Foiling will never trickle down to "mainstream" sailing, just like Formula 1 and IndyCar wings are not going to really be a part of your family sedan or SUV. But, certain technologies, build materials, sail materials, etc. will. Much like fuel injection, anti-lock brakes, and traction control is now pretty standard on passenger vehicles. Sailors need to stop being so short sighted about this. Its RACING, not a weekend cruise.

One other thing, people tend to mock things they don't understand.
 
Mar 20, 2015
2,255
C&C 30 Mk1 Silver Harbour, Lake Winnipeg
Foiling will never trickle down to "mainstream" sailing, just like Formula 1 and IndyCar wings are not going to really be a part of your family sedan or SUV.
Its RACING, not a weekend cruise.
it depends on what you call "mainstream"

Owners of the Subaru WRX STi, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and other similar performance cars, including SUVS, say otherwise.

Admittedly not as common as a Honda Civic, but they are common, and have functional ground effects and "wings", that are not cosmetic. Some have drivetrains that are detuned versions of ones from race cars.

Many start as homologation cars, and sell well enough to continue production, while others share design ideas from the race versions. I tell you from experience, that they make great "daily drivers".

Sailors have learned the same thing about performance cruisers.

There is demand for performance cruising boats. But like performance cars, the big thing will likely be how deep your pockets are.
Not many people can afford a million dollar Gunboat, a foiling cruiser cat like the Eagle Class 53, or the Baltic 142 Canova.

Another factor is control. it may not be long before control systems that make foiling predictable and easier.

If there was a boat for the masses, that had reliable, retractable, foils, why wouldn't a lot of people want them ?
Even if the foil simply improves stability, and only partially lifts the hull out of the water.
Sure the "soccer mom" sailors won't but others likely will.

The trick is usually cost and reliability.

I sure don't see it happening quickly…
 
Last edited:
Sep 15, 2016
617
Catalina 22 Minnesota
...Kids like to go fast. They are not going to want to sit around and ghost along at 4-6 kts. So they get a Moth or a Hobie and off they go.

Foiling will never trickle down to "mainstream" sailing, just like Formula 1 and IndyCar wings are not going to really be a part of your family sedan or SUV. But, certain technologies, build materials, sail materials, etc. will....

while I agree with most of what you say I'm not so sure about the foils not becoming more mainstream. Around the world Moth fleets and other foiling boats are quickly becoming one of the most popular small boat fleets. One company here stateside is even trying to make a go at it and seems to be doing quite well at this point. ( http://www.fulcrumspeedworks.com/UFO/ ). I can certainly see a day where this makes it way into the cruising market within my lifetime. Not in the Vendee global or AC since but certainly in a way that fixed foils drive cruisers across the seas at 20+kts. Particularly with everyone wanting to "go green".

More to the point of the OP I am excited to see the innovation. Change is not all bad and while the mentality that drives your average power boater or jet skier (I can drive a car so how hard can this be) I just don't see that applying to sailboats. People are intimidated by all the lines and rigging and sailors seem to care more about the "rules" than other types of boaters.

46984665_10161295861065158_6107382897218420736_n.jpg
 
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Jun 29, 2010
1,250
Beneteau First 235 Lake Minnetonka, MN
while I agree with most of what you say I'm not so sure about the foils not becoming more mainstream. Around the world Moth fleets and other foiling boats are quickly becoming one of the most popular small boat fleets. One company here stateside is even trying to make a go at it and seems to be doing quite well at this point. ( http://www.fulcrumspeedworks.com/UFO/ ). I can certainly see a day where this makes it way into the cruising market within my lifetime. Not in the Vendee global or AC since but certainly in a way that fixed foils drive cruisers across the seas at 20+kts. Particularly with everyone wanting to "go green".

More to the point of the OP I am excited to see the innovation. Change is not all bad and while the mentality that drives your average power boater or jet skier (I can drive a car so how hard can this be) I just don't see that applying to sailboats. People are intimidated by all the lines and rigging and sailors seem to care more about the "rules" than other types of boaters.
Those Fulcrum boats are small, quick, dinghy's. I mentioned Moths as well but, these are not cruising vessels either. Beneteau already makes the Figaro BENETEAU | Figaro - A Distillation Of Technology & Innovation but, I doubt it is going to be used for cruising. Its a go fast boat that is a lot more racer then anything. Maybe someday, could be but, there will need to be more design advances as you will need to probably put the foils "away" getting in to a marina.
 
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Apr 7, 2021
17
Cape Dory 22 Clear Lake
That's an interesting statement, because, while I believe both Jet skiers and power boaters have a much right to their fun as I do as a sailor, what bothers me about both of those isn't their lack of consideration, but their noise and their wake. Neither of those things come with a foiling sailboat. I understand how you're feeling, but ask yourself, is it just the newness of a tech that you haven't made the effort to understand or is there actually something about it that interferes with your passage through a beautiful day of sailing?

I imagine when Hobie and other fast sailing cats started to pop up around the coastal sailing areas, there were lots of "old" sailors shaking their heads thinking, "I hope this gimmicky phase doesn't last long. It can't really go anywhere and it looks too expensive, they're never going to be seaworthy."

-Will (Dragonfly)
Actually, I learned how to sail on a Hobie 14. I find them to be sailed by the some of the most talented sailors.

As far as jet skiers and power boaters, their rights end when it infringes on the rights of other boaters. Since I’ve always sailed on small, trailerable sailboats, I typically sail in reservoirs, lakes, and bays. I’ve been cut off by power boats, ignoring the speed limits, and jet skiers recklessly racing by me too many times, ignoring boating rules and regulations.

I was once inside a harbor, sailing back to a visitor’s slip I was renting for a month. I was making a tack and a power boat come by at an excessive speed, cut right in front of me, I had to fall off to avoid collision. The passengers started laughing at me as they went by.
Crafts capable of excessive speeds, in the wrong hands, can be extremely dangerous.
 
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