The first hydrofoiling boats were developed in the 1920’s. Hydrofoils have taken the world by storm. Ignited by the last Americas Cup races hydrofoiling seems to be happening everywhere. Why now…!? Is it a coincidence?

Especially military projects took benefit of the hydrofoiling techniques in the seventies and eighties and tourists in Mediterranean country occasionally see large hydrofoiling ferries. Increasing fuel- and maintenance costs meant an early decommissioning for most of these extraordinary craft.

The international Moth sailing class saw a rapid development in the first decade of the new century, with ultra-fit athletes sailing at very high speeds in very small craft just above the water surface. These boats took the imagination of sailors and non-sailors worldwide…

The 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco not only featured the biggest comeback in sporting history it also offered the world a look into the future. Started by Emirates Team New Zealand all four teams pushed for a foiling raceboat. Large teams with a lot of brainpower involved showed the world what is possible in terms of sailboat foiling and reducing hull resistance. Over the last digital Flow analyses (CFD) and powerful computer systems helped to accelerate the development.

At QConcepts we’re working in a small seven person team on developments focusing on fiber reinforced composites and flow dynamics. Airborne systems and boats are a large amount of our work. Clever design solutions, smart engineers and a multidisciplinary team are the ingredients for rapid development and the development and adaption of new technology. Control systems and software become in increasingly larger part of the projects that we work on. Data systems, control systems and live-measurements are an integrated part of these projects. Over the last 24 months we’ve been working in ‘development runs’ on the development of hydrofoil systems.

To foil or not to foil.

During the development of the ‘foiler’ for the Aeronamics label we learned a lot about sailboat foiling and even more about non-foiling or sailing ‘foil-assisted’. The goal in this program is to develop a boat that behaves well ‘on’ the foils and in non-foiling conditions (or in non-foiling ‘mode’) as well. Not everybody is as fit as America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill. Spending the Sunday on the lake in a quick boat that is fun to sail on the foils as ‘in the water’ as well is an important factor.

Is foiling always quicker that not foiling? There is a simple answer to that question: NO. The induced drag is an important factor in this question. More about the technical aspects of foiling in a future blog-post.

Sailing foil-assisted helps to reduce the hull drag and reduced the ‘pitching’ moment and therefore makes the sails more efficient. So to wrap up and to answer the question “To foil or not to foil”.. Well it depends on the conditions, the course that you’re sailing and most of all; the type of sailor.