Thanks to the Americas Cup and the associated media exposure, it seems that ,at last, the world of leisure boats and yachting is ready to start considering hydrofoil technology as a viable technology. We could not be happier as the Rodriquez family pioneered hydrofoils more than 65 years ago (see History). Indeed, in 1951 when Carlo Rodriquez was building the first commercial hydrofoil for passenger transportation purposes no marine transportation company was farsighted enough to see the future which was being written. Carlo, had to start his own high speed transportation company(SNAV) to prove to his shipyard’s prospective clients that hydrofoils were not a dream but a solid reality. The company was SNAV (Società Navigazione Alta Velocità) and it was effectively raising the bar by an average 20-25 knots in every-day marine passenger transportation.
The model was the Pt20 which was travelling at with 70 passengers at 30 knots cruise speed powered by one 1350hp engine built on specs by Mercedes marine (now MTU).
Only in the 70s a yacht version of the Pt20 built by Rodriquez was used by the James Bond’s movie Thunderball (See footage below)
Many years later the now super famous company Hobie Cat headed by Greg Ketterman applied hydrofoil technology to build the world’s fastest production sailboat, namely the Trifoiler. Then noticed that the market wasn’t yet ready to enjoy this speeds as hydrofoils were yet not considered safe enough.
In 2013-2015 it seems that the time is finally right for the boaters to start foiling and quite a few shipyards are moving the first steps around this technology. One example in the sailing world is Gun Boats (https://www.gunboat.com) with their
We are not sure that catamaran are the safest route to take when hydrofoil technology is applied for the general public outside of the insanity of the race boats of the Americas cup, however, it’s certainly through experimenting that innovative solutions and control systems will be developed and implemented in the leisure boat industry.
Hydrofoil technology is essentially aimed at maximising the efficiency and lowering consumption and we did not have to wait to long to see the first few examples of electric hydrofoils for private use such as the Quadrofoil. (image below)
In mid-sized power catamaran there are mild applications of foil technology (Foil assisted boats) like the on of South Africa based company Hysucraft (www.hysucraft.com).
Even in the world of board sports the trend seem to have exploded with foiled kite surf, windsurfs, regular surf board.
In 2015, we actually stumbled upon an event dedicated to hydrofoil technology called the Foiling Week (www.foilingweek.com) and we plan on getting more information on the topic and keep you up to date.
The trend on hydrofoil technology is doubtlessly here and most probably it’s here to stay and will be be significantly boosted by the media exposure of the Americas Cup.
At Rodriquez Consulting we hope that this trend will not be taken lightly from a technical point of view. It would be best to avoid the ‘Just add foils’ type of attitude of shipyards venturing in this technology. After all when the Rodriquez shipyards started building hydrofoils those were operated and maintained by professionals and the R&D behind each project was significant. A professional, serious approach to hydrofoil technology guaranteed many decades of safe operations (some of the earliest hydrofoils are still moving passengers around the world).
The hydrofoil technology implemented on pleasure boats requires an even more thoughtful technical process to avoid vessels that are not technically sound to go out on the market to non-experienced pleasure boaters.
If your company is considering investing or is already developing a hydrofoil project, go ahead and contact us for technical and strategic support. Hydrofoils[@]RodriquezConsulting.com or use the contact us form