What’s Old is New Again
Published on November 23rd, 2016
With the emergence of foiling sailboats, we are reminded that foils and boats are nothing new.
HMCS Bras d’Or was a hydrofoil that served in the Canadian Forces from 1968 to 1971. During sea trials in 1969, the vessel exceeded 63 knots, making her the fastest unarmed warship in the world.
The vessel was originally built from 1960 to 1967 for the Royal Canadian Navy, as a project for the testing of anti-submarine warfare technology on an ocean-going hydrofoil. The RCN was replaced on February 1, 1968 by the unified Canadian Armed Forces, and Bras d’Or was commissioned into that service several months later. Changes in priorities and cost overruns later led to the project’s cancellation.
Bras d’Or was named in honour of Bras d’Or Lake on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, where inventor Alexander Graham Bell performed hydrofoil experiments in the early 20th century near his estate and new laboratory at Beinn Bhreagh, setting the world watercraft speed record in the process.
In 1909 the lake was also the historic site of the first flight of an aircraft in Canada and the British Commonwealth; the airplane, named the Silver Dart, was built by the Aerial Experiment Association under Dr. Bell’s tutelage. The lake’s name was thus fitting for a hydrofoil vessel which could ‘fly’ above an ocean’s surface.