Is foiling here to stay, or is it simply a spectacular means of making pro racers go fast? Matthew Sheahan looks into the rapid development of foils and asks what’s in it for us?
“There’s nothing new in what we’re trying to do with foiling Cup boats,” says Land Rover BAR’s head of engineering, Dirk Kramers. “The Wright brothers would have understood the physics of an AC45f, they just wouldn’t have been able to build it.”
He has a point. The basic principles of lift, drag and flight have been known for over 100 years and if there’s one thing that the experts all agree on, it’s that nothing has changed in the physics. Yet the rapid growth of the new foiling generation has been one of the biggest modern breakthroughs in sailing… Continue reading here
The latest America’s Cup foiling cats are providing a wonderful spectacle as they scorch round the racecourse, but how did foiling start and what are the issues involved? Matthew Sheahan investigates
Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget
Here’s a challenge. Design a way to support the weight of five saloon cars on a plate the size of your desk on the water. That was the task that faced America’s Cup designers in their bid to make the new breed of Cup boats fly.
If that’s a bit tough, here’s an alternative. Support a 70kg person and their boat in the water on a plank the size of a cricket bat. This one is much easier, the GCSE of hydrodynamics by comparison, with plenty of examples as to how it can be done thanks to the proliferation of foiling Moths around the world.
Getting boats to fly above the water surface is simple in theory, but tricky in practice and has challenged designers for over a century, but in the last decade one class appears to have cracked it.
How you could be foiling in hours rather than years. Until now, sailing on hydrofoils has been largely for pro sailors and those with a surplus of talent and time. But as Matthew Sheahan discovers aboard a brand new production built foiling cat, flying could soon be for all.
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