Foiling: Everyone’s talking about the F word
Published on July 18th, 2014
by Johno Fullerton, Grand Prix Sailing
The inaugural Foiling Week took place on Lake Garda from 5 – 11 July and is already causing quite a stir in the fast and furious world of foiling.
The new event created by Luca Rizzotti with colleagues Andrea Ratti and Domenico Boffi was dedicated to the designers, builders and sailors of all types of foiling craft from kite foilers to large catamarans.
After a warm up regatta, the Italian Moth Championships had set the scene, the main event consisted of a series of forums where foiling experts could discuss and debate ideas, issues, theories and experiences. A combined mixed fleet then sailed an endurance race around a trapezoid type course off Malcesine on Lake Garda.
The afternoons were available for invitational races, speed runs and boat testing of brand new foiling concept boats, all at a spectacular destination with perfect launching facilities and a fully operational club at Fraglia Vela Malcesine.
Cutting edge designers and top sailors mixed with a sprinkling of adventurers and dreamers to make an eclectic mix of ‘magnificent men and their flying machines‘ coming together for a week of foiling fun and frolics.
Invitational Races & Speed Runs
The endurance race held in a gusty 12 – 16 knots on a trapezoid type course off Malcesine became quite a contest between the foiling kites and the Moths, each trading places on different legs of the course. In the end it was the kites that got the edge with local Simone Vannucci (ITA) scoring two bullets to win from Austrian Adrian Geislinger and Slovenian Toni Vodisek in third. Daniele Domenicale (ITA) was fourth in a single foiler and Australian Josh Mcknight, the first Moth in fifth overall.
Some of the craft on display on and off the water
GC32 Class with CEO – Andrew ‘Maca’ MacPherson
More familiar looking to fans of the AC72 is the GC32. Designed to fit in a trailer you can tow behind your car, and to be rigged and launched without a crane, GC32 Class CEO has grandiose plans for the GC32 Great Cup circuit.
‘Maca’ believes he could get 20 or more GC32’s foiling at a number of regatta locations all over the globe in the next few years!
It’s a boat that can easily take sponsors for rides, whilst in Lake Garda, one of the demo boats sailed by Sebastian Col and Josh Macknight hit 37.9 knots on the lake with two guests onboard!
The GC32 may also be evidence that the design space of practical foiling catamarans is converging. It has the same length to width ratio, and the same exact daggerfoil rake range, as the AC62 Class rule according to Kevin Hall of Artemis Racing.
NB: Our run with two journos onboard effortlessly achieved 35 knots in 15 knots of breeze on Lake Garda!
C-Fly and offshore speed projects
The British C-FLY project is a catamaran with diamond foils on the bows. It’s a successful concept-proving boat. Their goal is to break ocean going records on foils. The sea-keeping characteristics of their design and the prototype are notable. The idea for this design is consistent reliable lift through seaway, not top speed in flat water.
Standby for another ocean-record foiling pursuit to be announced soon. Vestas Sailrocket 2 and Paul Larsen and his team have similar plans to sail across oceans above the water the whole way.
Seminars presented by legends of foiling
The morning forums featured legends of the sport, past and present including Martin Fischer, Tom Speer, James Grogono and Andrew McDougal to name just a few. See www.foilingweek.com for the full list.
Martin Fischer, a member of the Groupama and Oracle tri design teams, designer of the Flying Phantom and design team of the GC32 catamaran, amongst many others, was first up to as the keynote speaker on day one.
Martin provided a historical overview of foiling accompanied by an absorbing in-depth presentation on the five main components of foiling consistently: Lift, Heave Stability, Pitch, Robustness and Cost!. With the memories of the last AC still very much in mind, there was a lot of emphasis on the word ‘Stability’.
Tom Speer – Oracle Team USA – Aero & Sail Project Leader
Tom had the seminar audience glued on the second day with his subject matter: “The hydrodynamics of A Class Cat foils and stability”
Tom’s analysis of the design of A Class cat foils will be an absolute must for all budding A Class cat sailors. His graphs comparing the evolution of foils from J, C, L and Chevron foils has some very interesting conclusions.
Kevin Hall (Artemis Racing) commented, “The primary assumption was that the windward foil will remain down. This means the tradeoffs are very different to those on the AC72”
At the end of the week Tom was invited to go sailing on the GC32 cat. He looked slightly hesitant climbing into his sailing gear but try wiping the smile of his face when he came ashore!
“Having spent 40 years working with teams on foiling this is the first time I have ever gone foiling myself” he remarked!
Andrew ‘AMac’ McDougall (Moth builder & sailor)
With 40 years of experience of Moth development and construction ‘AMac’ gave the keynote speech on the final day, describing the development of the tools he has used to design cutting edge sailboard sails and Moths for the last 30 years.
He also dropped a hint on the impending launch of the ‘Waszp’ a revolutionary new mini moth design due to be launched in a couple of months time.
The Waszp prototype is similar in design to the Moth but with a smaller sail area with the club sailor in mind. It has a wishbone boom, collapsible wings that neatly fold into a box and can be transported with ease. Standby for the launch very soon.
James Grogono – (Designer & Sailor)
Designer and sailor of Icarus and nicknamed ‘the grandfather of foiling’, James is one of the pioneers of foiling craft delivered his speech – ‘60 years of Icarus – from failure to success’.
James invented the first hydrofoil conversion of a standard sailing catamaran. For 10 years he held a ‘secret’ idea that foils would add speed to fast small sailing boats. There was no easy way of testing this until publication of the Tornado design in 1967. A perfect platform for foils had been created fortuitously by the designer.
In 1969 he acquired a Tornado, designed and structured wooden foils, screwed them on, and set sail. ‘Icarus’ flew slowly above the water, but suffered various failures and breakages. There was no incentive to progress into high tech metal foils without accurate speed measurement, so he applied himself, with others, to creating the sport of ‘Speed Sailing’.
In 1972 the first Speed Week was held at Weymouth, UK. ‘Icarus’, with her new metal foils, was the fastest hydrofoil, reaching 21.5 knots over the 500m course.
Over the next 15 years ‘Icarus’ held the B Class Record at speeds which increased slowly up to 28.4 knots. Grogono played a large role in ‘Mayfly’ and ‘Icarus 2’, which were one-man and three-man versions of the same concept.
Kevin Hall (Artemis Racing AC team)
Kevin Hall explained some of the strategies used when approaching an AC35 team campaign. Kevin was head of the Performance and Instruments Department at Artemis Racing leading up the their 2013 effort to make it to the America’s Cup. With all the interest in the new AC62 Kevin held the attention of the room, you could have heard a pin drop!
“The passion in the air was so thick you could cut it with a foil.” said Kevin after the event.
Forums and Round table discussions
There has never been an event where so many experts had gathered in the same room with a common interest. One attendee remarked: “If the Foiling Week seminars where run 10 years ago, many of the designers and boat builders could have saved a lot of time and money by sharing their knowledge at this unique forum of expert minds!”
Additional speakers presented studies on Engineering, Fluid Dynamics, Foil shapes with much discussion about stability, ventilation and cavitation.
One discussion led to an established need for a fast foiling stable support boat/Rib for regatta support and media use. Boat designers around the room were scribbling notes.
See website for playbacks of forums
See the foiling week website for playbacks of the seminars and interviews with panelists. www.foilingweek.com
Weird and Wonderful – ‘Wacky Racers’
In the boat park there were craft including foiling kiteboards, foiling windsurfers, an abundance of Moths and a number of prototypes like the 5.9, (A Class look alike cats), the Mirabaud LX (monohull-tri, you be the judge?) and even the W:Foil, resembling something out of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ a propeller powered motor vessel that caused some amusement as it attempted to foil the length of Lake Garda!
The important thing about the many different platforms is not how they were different. They were brought together by the common joys of flying above the water instead of sailing on it.
The best thing about The Foiling Week was being under one roof. The joy of investigation and discovery, the step-change in performance brought by foiling, and the passion which comes from sharing these things face to face.
Who needs boat shows when you can go on a demo run during Foiling Week and showcase the best that foiling can offer?
Kevin Hall remarked on his blog: “The Foiling Week on Lake Garda could easily become the mecca of modern sailing and design. The enthusiasm from organizers and participants matches the grandeur of the vision perfectly. I hope sponsors are already climbing over each other for next year’s event”
An event not to be missed in 2015!
Note: photo credits embossed except the old sepia image of Icarus (Tornado) which is credited to James Grogono