Last year it was a dynamic new deck layout by Galeon that picked up the Innovative On-Board Design Solution award sponsored by Fusion. As foilers enter the mainstream, will the technology make them a front runner in this year’s Awards?

With the countdown begun to the 2019 Boat Builder Awards, held in association with Raymarine, IBI spotlights some of the key trends and innovations on the judging panel’s radar. Last year Galeon Yachts and its walk-through layouts for 640 FLY and 650 SKYDECK won the Innovative On-Board Design Solution award, sponsored by Fusion - is 2019 the year foiling technology will make the Award headlines?

Foiling yachts have been hitting the headlines over the last twelve months and are undoubtedly one of the hot areas of innovation right now. On the heels of the America’s Cup and SailGP exposure, foiling technologies have been trickling down through the production boatbuilding scene with the likes Beneteau, UAE-based Enata’s ‘Foiler’, and Princess’s R35 with its Active Foil System, capturing hearts and minds by embracing variants of the foiling concept.

Judges for the 2019 Boat Builder Awards, held in association with Raymarine, are expecting this year to see foiler technology strongly presented in the list of nominations in the Innovative On-Board Design Solution award category, sponsored by Fusion, as builders harness the very latest production techniques and materials to refine and further commercialise for the leisure sector, what is in essence, a 100-year old concept.

Tried and tested

Hydrofoil boats have been around since the early 20th century and whilst they offered improved performance (at least in calmer waters), the downside was the increased draft when stopped and the difficulty in mooring when the foils extended out from the side. Propulsion was also a major challenge with the varying draft when on and off foils, so hydrofoils tended to be used only for specialised applications, mainly for fast ferries and some military applications.

The Hysucat foil system used foils between the hulls of catamarans to generate lift and enjoyed some success but the foils were not deep enough in the water to be fully effective although several builders employed the system.

Some 40 years ago the Russians exhibited a hydrofoil sports boat at the London Boat Show in Earls Court, but it did little to change the view that hydrofoils were not for the leisure classes. Under sail the Moth Class of dinghy adopted foils roughly about the turn of the century and showed what could be achieved but it reinforced the view that foils were for specialised applications.

Re-inventing the foil

The America’s Cup foilers and the supercharged F50 cats in SailGP flying at 50-plus knots, undoubtedly raised the technology’s profile, opening up the new world of hydrofoil powerboats. By having folding or retractable foils most of the handicaps of hydrofoil boats could be overcome and Enata Marine in the UAE were pioneers with their Foiler sports boat having retractable foils and electric pod propulsion. The Aquila powerboat was another production foiler and there has been a whole host of private or experimental designs hitting the water. Princess Yachts went to the British America’s Cup team for help when they wanted to develop a pioneering sports boat concept. Their R35, that incidentally picked up the award for best Retail Marketing Initiative, sponsored by Glomex, at the 2018 Boat Builder Awards, features a foil that can be lowered below the bottom of the hull to generate lift and improve performance.

New construction materials and operating systems have been responsible for modern day foil systems. Most foils now are moulded in aircraft quality composites that combine high strength and accurate profiles and a move away from the straight line shapes that were imposed with metal foils. Composite foils could be curved to match the lines of the hull when stowed and hydraulics can be used to deploy the foils rather than having fixed foil systems so that retractable foils are now used. Electric propulsion is one solution to the propulsion system challenges and another solution is to have outboards mounted on a height adjustable transom.

Any suggestion that foil technology would remain the reserve of premium-priced, niche performance boats, were firmly put to bed when at the end of 2018 Beneteau launched its first production foiling sailing yacht in the shape of the Figaro Beneteau 3 – followed this February with the unveiling of its first concept foiling motoryacht. That Group Beneteau has foiling development firmly in its sights is the surest indicator yet that the technology is about to go mainstream.

Think your foiler technology deserves to be recognised?

Or are you pioneering another cutting-edge onboard design solution that deserves recognition? If your company -- or another one you work with -- stands out as a leader in innovation, marketing, dealer development, collaborative solutions or apprentice programs, why not nominate it for the 2019 Boatbuilders Awards for Business Achievement in association with Raymarine.

View Criteria & Enter Here


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>> The Foiling Phenomenon