Pulling Back the Curtain on Foils

Published on September 19th, 2013

Gino Morrelli, a partner at Morrelli & Melvin Design & Engineering that has been involved in the design of Emirates Team New Zealand, talks about their development of foiling multihulls, how the Kiwi foils work, and how the technology is already transferring to other yacht racing from the America’s Cup…

“All of this board development is going to trickle into racing, big time,” Morrelli says. “We’re already stealing it and sticking it on our cruising cats. The sail-area-to-weight ratio that benefits from curved boards and angled boards and ‘J’-boards, is being approached by cruising boats like our Gunboat series or our custom MM65 series on a regular basis right now.

“We’ve already got clients looking for us to design basically semi-lifting – what we call lift fractions – to start putting lift fractions onto cruising cats, big custom carbon things. That trickle is happening as we speak. We recently just stuck a set of big asymmetric canted-end foils on one of our Gunboats, escalating that war down there in the Caribbean. That’s a 62, 40,000-pound boat. So they are benefiting from some of that experience, too.

“The next generation of custom cruising cats will definitely get some of this stuff. For doing Antigua Race week or Heineken or Caribbean 600, you’re going to see some pretty wild 90-100-foot cruising cats flying a hull around the course in the near future.”

One of the significant challengers of the AC72 class rule for foiling is that only the angle of the daggerboard can be adjusted, and not the rudder. But an early draft of the rule was wide open, allowing unlimited development and adjustment. Why the change… read on

The story above prompted this response by Peter Johnstone, CEO & Founder at Gunboat:
Gino Morrelli’s exuberance for foils is refreshing and optimistic and we feel, similar to his earlier proclamations, that kites will be the future and will replace traditional rigs.

While we are flattered that many of his comments relate to Gunboat, we feel some clarifications are warranted.
(1) Gunboat worked with Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering on early models. Since 2008, all of our new offshore series are designed by the renowned offshore multihull design team of Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret.
(2) Gino’s alleged “Gunboat foil work” is apparently a pair of ‘racing rudders’ for the Gunboat 66 ‘Slim’, which were tried in the Caribbean 600 this year, and a pair of 18′ deep asymmetric daggerboards for the Gunboat 62 ‘Elvis’. These projects do not feature “L” style foils to provide lift per the AC72’s, and nor would we condone the use of such foils on our offshore world cruisers.

There is a world of difference between a $200 million dollar 6-ton AC72 cat maintained and sailed by an army of the world’s best professionals in a protected bay, and a world cruiser enjoyed by a self-reliant family and exposed to nature’s potential fury. Storm-safety needs to be sorted out before “L” foils are fostered upon our owners, families, and friends. Such trials and tribulations could easily mirror the pain endured during the early trimaran years offshore in the 1970’s.

We are not happy with Gino’s efforts to prematurely associate foils with Gunboat, nor are we happy with his effort to introduce an “arms race” within the Gunboat community. Such an effort is, in our opinion, self-serving, highly negative, and not in the best interests of our Gunboat owners.

The Gunboat Class Rules are being developed. As a leader in the market, we will allow some development, but the special Gunboat qualities of fairness and an emphasis on fun social regattas will be maintained. Gunboat has created something very special today. Our boats can be equally enjoyed world cruising, or racing.

Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret have done an excellent job delivering our next generation series with carefully developed user-friendly innovations, and major improvements to our hull shapes and sail-plans. The Gunboat fleet has sailed over 2 million sea miles in complete safety. Gunboat will continue to develop, innovate, and lead in a manner that remains true to our enviable traits.

From everyone at Gunboat, we wish to congratulate the Morrelli & Melvin team’s involvement with the Team New Zealand design team. We remain grateful for Pete Melvin’s contributions to Gunboat’s early days.

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