hydrofoil sailboat meaning

Published on June 2nd, 2017 | by Assoc Editor

Foiling and Foil Shapes, a Beginner’s Guide

Published on June 2nd, 2017 by Assoc Editor -->

by Mark Chisnell, Land Rover BAR The rules covering the design and construction of the team’s America’s Cup Class (ACC) boat have defined many of the parts of the boat, including the hull and crossbeams (together called the platform), and the wing shape and size. What’s left for the team’s designers and engineers to work on is principally the daggerboards and rudders, and the control systems that operate them along with the wingsail.

A lot of the technology that goes into the control systems is hidden well inside the hull, with just glimpses of the HMI (human machine interface) that the sailors use to control the board rake, wing trim and so on. The foils are on full view however, so we thought a beginners guide to ACC foil design would come in useful now the racing is approaching.

Basic Principles The foils use exactly the same scientific principles as an aircraft wing. Just as an aircraft wing will lift a plane up off the ground, the foils of an America’s Cup Class boat will lift it out of the water. Wings are foils too, called aerofoils because they work in air. The foils on the new America’s Cup boats are more accurately called hydrofoils, because they work in water.

The secret to both types of foil is the shape – aerofoils and hydrofoils use a special shape to guide the wind or water around them, and generate the lifting force to get planes and boats up in the air. Of course, the America’s Cup boats also use an aerofoil. The main wingsail works exactly the same way as an aircraft wing, it’s just rotated to stand up straight, rather than lie flat.

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

While an aircraft needs an engine to push the air over the wing fast enough to generate enough force to lift the aircraft up off the ground, the wingsail on the Cup boat generates force from the wind blowing past it. The harder the wind blows, the more force it makes to push the boat forward. When the boat is going fast enough, the hydrofoils will then be able to create enough force to lift the boat out of the water. This reduces resistance to the forward motion and the boat goes faster still.

There are four hydrofoils on the boat — we count the rudders at the back because they have small wings at the tips called elevators. However, the real power to keep the boat in the air comes from the hydrofoils (the daggerboards, as you will often hear them called by the sailors) and we will concentrate on these.

The L-Foil The L-foil is exactly that; a vertical daggerboard shaft that goes through the hull of the boat, with a single horizontal hydrofoil on the bottom, the whole thing shaped like an ‘L’. If nothing else changes, then the L-foil keeps generating lift as the boat goes faster and so the boat keeps rising, and as it rises, less and less of the daggerboard is in the water.

At the basic level, two things then happen: firstly, the boat starts to slip sideways because there is less of the vertical part of the daggerboard in the water and this makes the boat feel unstable and hard to steer. Then, ultimately, if the boat keeps rising the horizontal part of the board that is doing all the lifting will break the surface. If it does, there will be a catastrophic loss of lift and the boat will come crashing back down.

Aircraft use moving parts on the foils to control the amount of lift – trailing edge flaps — but the rules forbid these on the ACC boats, so to maintain stable flight the sailors change the rake or angle of attack of the whole dagger board (and hence the foil) to the water.

Rake If you rake the board backwards as the boat accelerates, the lift will reduce and the boat will come to an equilibrium at a steady height above the water. This is all well and good until the conditions change, maybe the wind speed goes up or down, or the boat hits some waves. When that happens the rake will need further adjustment to find the new equilibrium… until the next puff or lull when it must change again.

In the big breeze and rough water of San Francisco Bay in the 34th America’s Cup it turned out that these moments of equilibrium didn’t last very long and on occasions barely existed at all. The crew’s ability to generate the hydraulic power to change the board and wing trim was simply overwhelmed; they couldn’t achieve stable flight.

V-foil The solution was what’s called the V-foil, in which the horizontal part of the ‘L’ is angled upwards to form more of a ‘V’ shape (the angle at the bottom of the ‘V’ is called the dihedral – a dihedral of 90 degrees would define an L-foil, less than that is progressively more of a V-foil).

The V-foil uses the same principle as one of the most successful original foiling powerboats. The grand old man of 19th century innovation, Alexander Graham Bell put a couple of 350hp engines on the back of what was called HD-4 and set a new marine world speed record in 1919 of just over 70mph.

HD-4 used three ‘ladders’ of small foils, one at the front, and one each side close to the back. When the boat accelerated it started to lift out of the water, and as it lifted, one by one the ‘rungs’ of the foils would break clear of the water. As they did so the lift would decrease, and unless the boat continued to accelerate the boat would stop rising and settle at an equilibrium.

The V-foil achieves this same effect with a single foil and is used in the commercial application of fast ferries— one runs between Southampton and Cowes on the Isle of Wight, right across the Solent waters where the team train, and has done so (on and off) since 1969 – so V-foils are well understood.

When a boat equipped with a V-foil keeps rising as more lift is generated by faster speeds, both parts of the ‘V’ come out of the water together. Critically, when the ‘horizontal’ section starts to break the surface at the tip, it has the effect of reducing the lift gradually, because it doesn’t all come out of the water together. So the boat comes back down gently, working towards an equilibrium ‘ride height’ of its own accord.

It might be that it doesn’t reach this equilibrium before something else changes, but the V-foil has some inherent stability (unlike the L-foil) that doesn’t require human intervention. The shape provides a feedback mechanism to control the amount of lift and produce a more stable ride at a consistent height above the water. The downside of the V-foil is that it will generate less lift and more drag than the L-foil under the same conditions, because some of the lift generated is pushing sideways rather than up.

So one of the big questions facing the teams at the outset of this campaign was whether or not the sailors could achieve stable flight with an L-foil in the new boats and the new venue. Bermuda was a very different place to San Francisco; the winds were expected to be lighter, the water flatter and it seemed that stable flight should be easier to achieve with an L-foil under human control.

A huge amount of work has gone into foil and control system design and we now know that the answer is yes, they can – all the teams are using L-foils, often with unloaded dihedral angles of greater than 90 degrees. These angles close as the boat sails and the foil is loaded up to become much closer to, or 90 degrees.

Cant Another buzz word for the 35th America’s Cup is the cant. The cant of the board is similar to the rake, except that the bottom of the board is moving sideways across the boat, to and from the centreline, rather than backwards and forwards. When the board is canted outwards (towards the edge of the boat) it creates greater ‘righting moment’ and more power to drive the boat forwards.

Righting Moment When the wind hits a sail it creates the force to move the boat forward but it also creates a force that is trying to tip the boat over. If you have ever seen a dinghy or yacht knocked flat by a big gust of wind then you’ve already got the idea.

It’s considerably simplified, but essentially the more force that can be applied to resist the wind’s effort to tip the boat over, then the faster the boat will go, because more of the wind’s energy can be captured and applied to forward motion. The resisting force is called the righting moment and creating as much righting moment as possible is a fundamental principle of designing fast sailboats. It’s the reason that you see people leaning over the windward side when they are racing, putting bodies as far out on the windward side as possible is creating righting moment.

S-Foil Finally, there’s the question of whether the vertical part of the daggerboard should be straight or ‘S’ shaped. The curve of the S-foil could be used — like the cant — to move the bottom of the board outboard and increase the righting moment. So S-foils are more powerful, but they are also more difficult to use. The curves have to raised up and down through the bearings and internal mechanisms in the hull, and that means a lot of work to keep the friction down and the efficiency high.

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Tags: AC35 , America's Cup , foiling , Land Rover BAR , Mark Chisnell

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hydrofoil sailboat meaning


Discover the Magic of Hydrofoil Sailboats

Discover the Magic of Hydrofoil Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 11, 2023

‍ Key Takeaways

  • Hydrofoil sailboats blend speed, stability, and innovation for a fun sailing experience.
  • Their design lifts the hull above water, reducing drag and enabling high-speed travel.
  • Advanced control mechanisms maintain stability in varying wind conditions.
  • Sails and hulls are meticulously engineered for optimal aerodynamics and lift.
  • Ongoing innovations in foil technology continue to propel hydrofoils to new heights.

‍ Based on their innovation and nature, the world of hydrofoil sailboats are magical, to say the least. But what exactly makes them so exceptional?

The magic of hydrofoil sailboats lies in their extraordinary speed. They can achieve remarkable speeds that were once thought impossible for sailboats. Their unrivaled stability and cutting-edge technology redefine sailing, offering a thrilling blend of innovation and performance.

Over the years, I've dedicated myself to mastering the intricacies of the yachting world, not just as an observer but as an active participant in the hydrofoil sailing community. My knowledge extends beyond the surface, encompassing the technical aspects of hydrofoil design and the thrill of high-speed sailing. As such, I’ll provide a comprehensive and engaging exploration of what sets hydrofoil sailboats apart, making them truly magical on the waters.

Table of contents

‍ Discover the Magic of Hydrofoil Sailboats

Hydrofoils saw their early development as a concept for enhancing speed and efficiency on the water. From Alexander Graham Bell's experiments to the application of foils on sailboats in the 1950s, the quest has always been for greater speed.

But it wasn't until Russell Long championed these designs with the CEC foiling catamaran and the development of the Hobie Trifoiler that hydrofoils began to carve a distinct niche in the sailing world.

This sailboat operates on a simple yet ingenious principle: as the speed increases, the foils submerged beneath the boat generate lift. This lift thrusts the boat's hull above the water, dramatically reducing drag.

It’s similar to how air flows around the wing of an airplane, only with water's denser environment offering a different dynamic. This revolutionary foiling system allows boats to glide over waves, offering an incredibly smooth ride.

The variety of hydrofoil sailboats is astounding, from the foiling catamarans that have revolutionized the America's Cup to the twin sail trimaran designs. The fastest production sailboat, the Hobie Trifoiler , showcases what hydrofoils are capable of.

Additionally, boats like the innovative Emirates Team New Zealand vessels continue to push the boundaries of technology in competitive sailing. Whether for recreational purposes or high-speed racing, the range of hydrofoil sailboats caters to different sailing experiences and preferences.

Now, let’s explore the various aspects of hydrofoil sailboats that make them truly magical.

The Thrills of Hydrofoil Sailing

When I first stepped onto a hydrofoil sailboat, I knew that sailing would never be the same for me. Harnessing the power of the wind to achieve remarkable speeds while hovering above the water was nothing short of revolutionary.

It's an adrenaline-infused blend of sailing, flying, and innovation that promises high performance and stability with a significant reduction in wetted areas.

The allure of hydrofoiling is not just about the speed; it's the sensation of flying over the waves, defying the conventions of traditional sailing. With each gust, my hydrofoil sailboat becomes a silent, swift car, slicing through the air rather than merely sailing on the water.

When sailing with hydrofoils, you get to experience the following benefits.

  • High Speed: With hydrofoils, I've seen and achieved speeds I never thought possible on water.
  • Less Wetted Area: As the hydrofoils lift the hull out of the water, drag is reduced, further contributing to the craft's efficiency and speed.
  • Stability: Surprisingly, the flying sensation is accompanied by stability once airborne, making the ride smoother.

The America’s Cup Competitive Foiling

Over the years, I've witnessed first-hand how hydrofoil technology has radically altered the landscape of competitive sailing. The introduction of hydrofoils has not only redefined what we consider possible in the sail area but has also brought a fresh surge of excitement to the racing circuit.

The most illustrious event in sailing, the America's Cup , underwent a transformation with the embrace of hydrofoils. Emirates Team New Zealand, a frontrunner in hydrofoil innovation, redefined the America's Cup racing in 2017.

Alongside them, the US team and Luna Rossa played pivotal roles in reshaping the landscape of America's Cup racing.

With their AC50 class catamarans soaring above the waves at top speeds that defy traditional sailing limits, they clinched the title and shifted the focus of competitive racing toward technological prowess.

The spectacle of these vessels racing is not just about the crew's capabilities but equally a testament to engineering marvels.

Also, the advent of hydrofoils in racing has certainly led to a spike in performance metrics. Here's a concise table highlighting the before and after impact of hydrofoiling in competitive Sailing:

Aspect of Racing Before Hydrofoiling After Hydrofoiling
Top Speed Limited by hull drag and water resistance Drastically increased due to reduced drag
Crew Skills Traditional sailing techniques Advanced agility and dynamic sailing are required
Race Dynamics Heavily dependent on wind Enhanced control and strategy with stable wind conditions
Teams' Focus Conventional sail trimming Precision in foil control and balance

This table illustrates just how much the racing landscape has shifted; it's not only sailing anymore.

It’s similar to piloting a high-speed aircraft, with each crew member playing a crucial role in harnessing the raw power of the strong winds in harmony with state-of-the-art technology. Watch this video for a more detailed explanation of hydrofoil sailboats and their magical power.

Technical Aspects of Hydrofoil Sailboats

In diving into the technical aspects of hydrofoil sailboats, I'll give you an insight into the intricate designs that enable these marvels to glide above the water, as well as the cutting-edge foil technology propelling them.

The design of a hydrofoil sailboat revolves around its capability to elevate the hull above the water, reducing drag and enabling high wind-speed travel. Control mechanisms are central in maintaining stability, especially when the sailboat interacts with varying wind conditions or maneuvers through shallow waters.

The hull's length and overall design are calibrated for balancing aerodynamics with hydrodynamics. In designing sails and hulls for foiling, one must carefully balance the need for power with the propensity for lift.

The sails are tailored not only to harness the wind's energy effectively but also to match the unique mechanics of a vessel in flight. Meticulous engineering ensures that the sail configuration works in harmony with the foils to propel the sailboat forward swiftly.

Additionally, the foil technology, which is pivotal to modern hydrofoils, has undergone significant further development over the years . From the materials used to the manufacturing processes, every element incorporates the latest in technology to yield extreme performance.

Advancements have led to foils that can automatically adjust to sailing conditions and speed, which is instrumental for achieving and maintaining high speeds.

Currently, the future of hydrofoil technology seems bound for even further breakthroughs. Customization and refinement of foils for specific water conditions, such as the challenges posed by shallow water, are ongoing.

Each new iteration builds upon the last, consistently advancing the field and informing the next leap in hydrofoil sailing. This persistent innovation in foil and hull technology is a testament to the potential that lies ahead for hydrofoil sailboats.

Are Hydrofoil Sailboats the Right Options for You?

Hydrofoil sailboats offer a unique and thrilling sailing experience, but whether they are the right option depends on your preferences and goals. These high-performance vessels are known for their exceptional speed and stability, making them ideal for thrill-seekers and competitive sailors.

If you're passionate about cutting-edge technology and want to push the boundaries of traditional sailing, hydrofoil sailboats could be a perfect fit.

However, they may require a learning curve for beginners and are typically more expensive than traditional sailboats.

Consider your skill level, budget, and desire for speed and innovation when deciding if hydrofoil sailboats align with your sailing aspirations.

The Future of Hydrofoil Sailboats and Their Transformative Potential

Over the years, I've been captivated by the evolution of sailing and the recent advancements in hydrofoil technology, which promise a thrilling future for these marine crafts.

The technology supporting hydrofoil sailboats is rapidly advancing, bringing us closer to a world where boats gliding above the water's surface is a common sight.

These boats use 'wings' or foils submerged in water to lift the hull above the surface, reducing drag and allowing for greater speeds. This innovation is not just limited to racing but is expected to influence recreational and transport vessels in the future.

Today, we see hydrofoils in action with hydrofoil kiteboards, which have become popular among thrill-seekers. This is due to their ability to harness wind power and achieve impressive acceleration and agility on the water. This same principle is being applied to larger sailing vessels, where performance and sustainability converge.

The further development of hydrofoil technology involves intensive research into materials and design optimizations that can handle the challenges of varied sea conditions.

Electric and solar-powered hydrofoils are on the horizon, poised to significantly impact our world by offering greener alternatives to traditional boats.

Notably, the trends in hydrofoiling indicate a shift towards more sustainable sailing, utilizing advancements in electric propulsion systems to complement the inherent energy efficiency of hydrofoil designs.

The goal is a fleet of sailboats that are not just faster but more eco-friendly, promising an exciting future where the joy of sailing is in harmony with the health of our oceans.

Related Articles

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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MAIN FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENT:   Lift the boat’s hull outside the water.

DESIGN PARAMETER:   Hydrofoil (It is a foil or wing under water used to lift the boat’s hull until it is totally outside the water.)



1. At low speeds the hull (body of ship) sits in the water and the hydrofoils are totally submerged in the water.

2. As the boat’s speed increases, the hydrofoils create lift.

3. At a certain speed, the lift produced by the hydrofoils equals the sum of of the boat and cargo weights. Therefore the hull comes out of the water.

4. Instead of having an increase in drag with increasing speed because the hull is lifted out of the water (contrary to what happens in traditional boats due to pressure drag), the hydrofoils provide a more efficient way of cruising. Decreasing the drag contributes to the better use of the power needed for the movement of the boat.


How is the lift produced - Fluid Dynamics.

For the purpose of this project two explanations will be presented in a general and basic way. These theories are the application of Bernoulli’s Equation and Euler’s Equation for Streamline Curvature Effect.

Bernoulli’s Equation:  Po = P 1 + � r v 1 � + r gy 1 = P 2 + � r v 2 � + r gy 2

Po  Stagnation Pressure [Pa] or [lbf/ft ]
P    Pressure [Pa] or [lbf/ft ]
    Density [kg/m ] or [lbf/ft ]
V   Velocity [m/s] or [ft/s]
g    Gravitational Constant [m/s ] or [ft/s ]
y    Height [m] or [ft]

  This equation applies to flows along a stream line which can be modeled as : inviscid, incompressible, steady, irrotational and for which the body forces are conservative. Also the difference on the height of the foil (the distance from the bottom section to the upper one) is small enough so that the difference r gy 2 - r gy 1 is negligible compared to the difference of the rest of the terms. What is left is that the pressure plus one half the density times the velocity squared equals a constant (the stagnation pressure) . As the speed along these streamlines increases ,the pressure drops (this will become important shortly) .   The fluid that moves over the upper surface of the foil moves faster than the fluid on the bottom. This is due in part to visous effects which lead to formation of vertices at the end of the foil . In order to conserve angular momentum caused by the counter-clockwise rotation of the vortices, there has to be an equal but opposite momentum exchange to the vortex at the trailing edge of the foil. This leads to circulation of the fluid around the foil. The vector summation of the velocities results on a higher speed on the top surface and a lower speed on the bottom surface. Applying this to Bernoulli’s it is observed that, as the foil cuts through fluid, the change in velocity produces the pressure drop needed for the lift. As it is presented in the diagram, the resulting or net force (force= (pressure)(area)) is upward.

This explanation can be enriched with the Principle of Conservation of Momentum. (Momentum = (mass)(velocity)) If the velocity of a particle with an initial momentum is increased, then there is a reactant momentum equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to the difference of the momentums. (See diagram). (Mi = Mf + D M) Euler’s Equation: d(p+ r gy)/dn = r v�/R

P    Pressure [Pa] or [lbf/ft ]
    Density [kg/m ] or [lbf/ft ]
V   Velocity [m/s] or [ft/s]
g    Gravitational Constant [m/s ] or [ft/s ]
y    Height [m] or [ft]
n    Vector in Radial Direction ---
R    Radius of Curvature of Streamline [m] or [ft]

Here again, the term referring to the height is assumed negligible compared to the other terms in the equation. This equation says that as you go further from the center of the radius of curvature of a streamline, the pressure on the streamlines increases. The upper surface of the foil is closer to the center of curvature of the streamlines , therefore there will be a lower pressure than the ambient pressure above the foil. The difference between the pressure on the top surface and the ambient pressure at the bottom surface will produce a net pressure that will cause the lift.(See diagram.)

Angle of Attack:

As it has been presented, lift comes from the dynamics of the fluid in the area surrounding the foil. But the lift can be optimized by positioning the hydrofoil at an angle (relative to the incoming fluid flow) called the angle of attack (See diagram). The goal is to optimize the lift to drag ratio. This ratio depends on the shape of the foil, which in this case is considered to be a thin foil. With a small angle of attack, the lift increases rapidly while the drag increases at a small rate. After an angle of ~ 10� the lift increases slowly until ~ 15� where it reaches a maximum.  After ~15� stall can set in. When the angle of attack is 3� to 4� the ratio of lift:drag is at it’s maximum. So the foil is more efficient at those angles (3�and 4�) with lift to drag ratios of ~ 20 to 25:1


At first, people can think that stalling is likely to be a problem in hydrofoils as it is in airfoils, but surprisingly it is not. A steep angle of attack is not needed in the design of the hydrofoil. On the contrary, small angles of attack are used on hydrofoils to optimize the lift to drag ratio as explained before.

What is a primary concern is the design of the foil, the struts/supports, and their positioning. All these features have to be taken in consideration.  So the features are designed to produce a minimum speed that will lift the boat of certain weight and keep it foilborne.

One problem that a hydrofoil craft can experience is the height of the waves being greater than the struts. Also, if the craft is traveling faster than the waves, the foils could break to the surface and outside of the water, resulting in a loss of lift and a negative angle of attack when the foil dives into the next wave, making the craft crash into the sea. Engineers have designed hydrofoils to minimize these limitations and better the ship’s performance.


None Submitted


Hydrofoils have become very popular. They are used in various kind of sea traveling, from military use to watersports. The high speed, smooth cruise and better turns delivered by hydrofoils have been used in military ships. Sailing has also adopted the hydrofoils to gain more speed. They enable new inventions that can satisfy people’s desire to challenge danger , like the sky ski. It is a water ski with a hydrofoil attached which permits people to fly above the water surface. Every day more hydrofoils are used, and in the future, they may be the dominate method of sea traveling.


See also on this site: Airfoil , Sailboats

Alexander, Alan, James Grogono, and Donald Nigg; Hydrofoil Sailing . Juanita Kalerghi: London, 1972.

Bertin, John and Michael Smith; Aerodynamics for Engineers, Third Ediotion . Prentice Hall: New Jersey, 1998.

Hook, Cristopher and A.C. Kermode; Hydrofoils . Pitman Paperbags: London, 1967.

The International Hydrofoil Society’s Web Page: http://www.erols.com/foiler/index.html

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What is a Hydrofoil Sailboat? (Here’s What You Need to Know)

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

Have you ever heard of a hydrofoil sailboat? If you have, you may have wondered what it is and how it works.

Or if you are a sailor, you may be curious to know if a hydrofoil sailboat could be the perfect addition to your fleet.

In this article, we will discuss what a hydrofoil sailboat is and how it works, plus the many benefits, racing opportunities, costs, and types available.

We will also discuss the pros and cons of owning a hydrofoil sailboat so you can decide if it is right for you.

Read on to learn all you need to know about hydrofoil sailboats!

Table of Contents

Short Answer

A hydrofoil sailboat is a type of sailboat that uses hydrofoils to lift the hull out of the water, allowing it to travel much faster than a traditional sailboat.

The hydrofoils provide lift and reduce drag, allowing the boat to travel at high speeds and make tight turns.

The hydrofoil sailboat is one of the fastest sailboats in the world, with some capable of reaching speeds of over 40 knots.

What is a Hydrofoil Sailboat?

A hydrofoil sailboat is a type of sailboat that uses hydrofoils to lift the hull out of the water.

This is done by attaching wings or foils to the hull, which create lift as the boat moves through the water.

This lift results in reduced drag and increased speed, allowing the boat to reach speeds of up to 20 knots or higher.

The increased maneuverability of hydrofoil sailboats makes them particularly suitable for racing, as they can quickly turn and tack and remain stable even in high winds.

The construction of hydrofoil sailboats is complex and costly, making them more expensive than conventional sailboats.

The hydrofoils need to be carefully designed to ensure that the boat is able to maintain its stability and lift when in the water.

Additionally, the hull needs to be designed to minimize drag, which requires special materials and shapes.

As a result, hydrofoil sailboats are relatively rare and often require highly specialized knowledge to build and maintain.

Benefits of a Hydrofoil Sailboat

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

When it comes to sailing, there is nothing quite like the thrill of setting sail in a hydrofoil sailboat.

Hydrofoil sailboats are a special type of sailboat that offers many advantages over conventional sailboats.

One of the primary benefits of hydrofoil sailboats is increased speed.

Because hydrofoils lift the hull of the boat out of the water, they reduce drag and enable the boat to reach speeds of up to 20 knots or more.

This makes them ideal for racing or other activities where speed is a priority.

In addition to increased speed, hydrofoil sailboats offer improved maneuverability.

The ability to rapidly turn and tack makes hydrofoil sailboats a great choice for racing or other activities that require quick and precise control.

They also enable you to make the most of wind shifts and other changes in the sailing environment.

This provides an advantage to sailors who are looking to gain an edge over their competitors.

Finally, hydrofoil sailboats are relatively rare compared to other types of sailboats, and their complex construction can make them more expensive than conventional sailboats.

However, the increased speed and maneuverability that these boats offer can make them well worth the extra cost.

How a Hydrofoil Sailboat Works

A hydrofoil sailboat is an advanced type of sailboat that uses hydrofoils to lift the hull out of the water in order to reduce drag and increase speed.

This is done through the use of wings or foils attached to the hull that create lift when the boat moves through the water.

The foils are typically made of lightweight composite materials such as carbon fiber or fiberglass.

When the sailboat is moving, the foils create lift which lifts the hull out of the water.

This reduces the drag on the hull, allowing the sailboat to move faster.

The foils also act as a rudder, allowing the sailboat to quickly turn and tack.

Hydrofoil sailboats are particularly useful for racing, as they can reach speeds up to 20 knots or higher.

They are also more maneuverable than conventional sailboats, allowing the sailor to quickly make turns and tacks.

However, hydrofoil sailboats are typically more expensive than conventional sailboats due to their complex construction and relative rarity.

Racing with a Hydrofoil Sailboat

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

Racing with a hydrofoil sailboat is an exciting and rewarding experience for experienced sailors.

Unlike conventional sailboats, the hydrofoil design allows for greater speed and maneuverability, allowing you to outpace your competition and stay ahead of the pack.

The hydrofoil’s wings or foils, when in use, lift the hull out of the water, reducing drag and allowing you to reach speeds of up to 20 knots or higher.

This allows for faster acceleration, greater responsiveness, and more precise tacking and turning.

Additionally, the reduced drag also improves fuel efficiency and can help you save on fuel costs.

The hydrofoil’s design also makes it more agile, as the wings can be adjusted to provide different levels of lift.

This makes it easier to maneuver in tight spaces or when racing in choppy waters.

The ability to adjust the wings also makes it easier to adjust the boat’s trim to maximize speed and performance.

The hydrofoil’s design also helps to reduce pitching and rolling, making it easier to keep the boat on an even keel.

The increased speed and maneuverability of a hydrofoil sailboat come at a cost, however.

Hydrofoil sailboats are typically more expensive than conventional sailboats due to their complex construction and relative rarity.

Additionally, the hydrofoil’s design requires more maintenance, as the wings must be regularly inspected and adjusted to ensure optimal performance.

Finally, the wings can be damaged if not properly maintained, so it is important to take care when using them.

Despite the extra cost and maintenance, the rewards of racing with a hydrofoil sailboat can be well worth it.

With the increased speed and maneuverability, you can have a competitive edge in races and the ability to outpace your competition.

Additionally, the reduced drag can help you save on fuel costs and the ability to adjust the wings can help you maximize your boat’s performance.

For experienced sailors looking for a thrilling racing experience, a hydrofoil sailboat is a great choice.

Cost of a Hydrofoil Sailboat

The cost of a hydrofoil sailboat varies greatly depending on the size, type, and materials used in its construction.

Generally speaking, these boats are more expensive than more traditional sailboats due to their complex construction and relative rarity.

The cost of a hydrofoil sailboat can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the features.

For those on a budget, there are lighter and more affordable options such as the Hobie Cat, which can be found for around $10,000.

For those looking for a higher-end model, there are hydrofoil sailboats such as the Moth and A-Class which can cost upwards of $50,000 or more.

Additionally, the cost of upkeep and maintenance should also be taken into consideration when looking to purchase a hydrofoil sailboat.

In terms of performance versus cost, hydrofoil sailboats tend to be more expensive than traditional sailboats, but they also offer increased speed and maneuverability.

In addition, their lightweight construction makes them ideal for racing and other high-performance sailing activities.

For those seeking the highest level of performance, hydrofoil sailboats are an excellent choice.

Different Types of Hydrofoil Sailboats

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

When it comes to hydrofoil sailboats, there are a few different types to choose from. Generally, these boats come in two different categories: single-hull and multi-hull. Single-hull hydrofoils are the most common type, and they consist of a single hull with two or more hydrofoil wings attached to it. Multi-hull hydrofoils, on the other hand, have multiple hulls, with each one having its own hydrofoil wings.

In terms of performance, single-hull hydrofoils are generally considered to be the fastest and most maneuverable.

They are also the most popular type of hydrofoil sailboat, as they are relatively easy to build and maintain.

Multi-hull hydrofoils, meanwhile, are usually slower and less maneuverable than single-hull hydrofoils, but they offer more stability and can handle rougher seas.

The other main type of hydrofoil sailboat is the trimaran, which is a multi-hull boat with three hulls.

Trimarans are often used for racing and can reach speeds of up to 30 knots.

They are also considered to be more stable than single-hull hydrofoils, as they have three hulls instead of one.

However, they are also more expensive to build and maintain.

No matter which type of hydrofoil sailboat you decide to purchase, it is important to remember that all of these boats require an experienced sailor to pilot them safely.

Hydrofoil sailboats can be dangerous if not handled correctly, so it is essential to get some professional instruction before attempting to sail one.

Pros and Cons of Hydrofoil Sailboats

Hydrofoil sailboats offer a unique way of sailing that can be highly rewarding for experienced sailors.

They offer a range of advantages, including increased speed, maneuverability, and efficiency.

However, there are also some drawbacks associated with this type of sailboat that must be taken into consideration.

The most significant advantage of a hydrofoil sailboat is its speed.

The hydrofoils lift the hull out of the water, drastically reducing drag and allowing for higher speeds.

This makes them ideal for racing as they can reach speeds of up to 20 knots or higher, allowing them to outpace conventional sailboats.

Additionally, because the hydrofoils lift the hull out of the water, the sails can be set at lower angles than on conventional sailboats, reducing heel and improving efficiency.

The improved maneuverability of a hydrofoil sailboat is another key advantage.

The hydrofoils allow the boat to turn and tack quickly, which can be invaluable in a race.

Additionally, since the hydrofoils lift the hull out of the water, the boat has less resistance when turning, meaning it can turn faster and more sharply than a conventional sailboat.

However, hydrofoil sailboats also have some drawbacks.

First, they are typically more expensive than conventional sailboats due to their complex construction and relative rarity.

Additionally, they require more maintenance and expertise to operate safely.

Finally, some sailors may find them uncomfortable or difficult to sail due to the large wings and foils.

Overall, hydrofoil sailboats offer a range of advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed carefully when deciding whether or not to invest in one.

Their speed and maneuverability make them ideal for racing, but they may not be the best choice for casual sailing.

Nevertheless, those who take the time to learn how to operate and maintain a hydrofoil sailboat can enjoy the unique experience of sailing at higher speeds and with greater efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Hydrofoil sailboats are a great option for those looking to increase their speed and maneuverability on the water.

With wings or foils attached to the hull, these boats can reach speeds of up to 20 knots or higher and are great for racing.

Although they are more expensive due to their complex construction, they are becoming increasingly popular, and there are a variety of types available.

If you’re considering a hydrofoil sailboat, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully and decide if it’s the right choice for you.

James Frami

At the age of 15, he and four other friends from his neighborhood constructed their first boat. He has been sailing for almost 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge that he wants to share with others.

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Sailing’s Hydrofoiling Revolution

  • By Herb McCormick
  • January 18, 2023

Foiling Sailboat team

There’s a revolution underway in the sport of sailing, and it can be summed up in one simple word: foiling.

More specifically, we’re talking about hydrofoils , the winglike appendages mounted beneath the hull of a vessel that, at a certain speed, lift the hull clear of the water. When this happens, the foiling sailboats can reach speeds two or even three times faster than possible in “displacement” mode.

And sailboats are just one element of the foiling revolution: Surfboards, paddleboards and powerboats are also getting in on the act.

An Italian naval architect named Enrico Forlanini is credited with developing the first waterborne hydrofoils, which he affixed to a 60 hp, airscrew-driven craft that topped off at 36.9 knots back in 1906. In the century that followed, a series of would-be inventors took a swing at the concept with varying degrees of success. Foiling sailboats finally ascended into the mainstream during the 2013 America’s Cup, when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in a match between foiling 72-foot catamarans (the Cup has been contested in foiling cats ever since).

Surprisingly enough, my first foiling experience happened some three decades ago, aboard something called a Hobie TriFoiler, from the popular manufacturer of Hobie surfboards, beach cats and kayaks. The TriFoiler, basically a 22-foot trimaran with a central pod and a pair of mainsails stepped on the twin outriggers, was invented by a fanatical California engineer named Greg Ketterman. The sail controls were laid out just forward of the tiny airplane-style cockpit; you steered with foot pedals. It was so ridiculously easy that even a gremmie like me had the thing foiling within moments of getting in and reaching off.

But after the initial thrill, it was actually kind of boring. Which, I believe, is why it went out of production soon after. The TriFoiler was, unfortunately, way ahead of its time.

Such was the extent of my personal foiling experience until this past summer, when a new class of foiling monohull skiffs called Persico 69Fs rolled into my home waters for a series of races among youth squads in the class’s inaugural season. I got an invitation to take a spin.

After donning my helmet, wetsuit and life jacket, I was handed the helm with a pair of skilled young sailors on board. At 25 knots, we were towed into Narragansett Bay behind a powerful RIB, foiling all the way. It was terrifying. And a preview of coming attractions.

Once the tow dropped us, the sails went up and we bore off. I skied the tiller extension while scrambling out onto the hiking racks. Which sent us off on a screaming reach. Which flipped the 22-foot-7-inch carbon rocket ship.

Twenty seconds into foiling, and I’d capsized the bloody thing. How embarrassing.

The kids, bless them, were kind and patient. We got the whole shooting match, including ourselves, back upright and tried again. The mainsail trimmer sheeted it home, we started to accelerate, and he said: “Here we go! You’re up. You’re flying!” Indeed, we were.

Hard on the breeze in the 12-knot southwesterly, things unfolded quickly. Spray was flying, and I took more than one solid wave to the kisser. I was mostly too frightened to concentrate on anything but driving, but I did glance at the speedo once: 17.4 knots. (I felt pretty chuffed until later learning a 69F’s top speed is 34 knots. Ugh.)

However, I guess I’d proved the point: With a couple of sailors who know what they’re doing, foiling is for everyone. From now on, just call me Mr. Foiler.

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  • ← Technology

Hydrofoils: Boats That Fly


Hydrofoils make everything from water skis to sailboats to giant ferries faster (much faster). But how the heck do they work?

An action shot of Oracle Team USA underway

Oracle Team USA's AC50 "flying" at nearly 50 mph. (Photo: Ricardo Pinto)

Ever wonder why a sleek, powerful recreational boat is not even as fast as a typical economy car? It has to do with friction. An economy car needs a little over 100 horsepower to speed by at 100 mph, but pushing a boat through the water that fast takes several hundred horsepower. The reason is that water is almost 800 times denser than air.

Imagine standing on your dock in a 10-knot wind — it's not hard to do. Now imagine being in a river trying to stand up to a 10-knot current. The water is so much denser that no matter how strong you are, you'd be swept away. A boat hull has to push through all that dense water while a car can slip through the air much easier.

Planing boats are able to go faster than displacement boats because they lift part of their hull out of the water as they race over their bow wave, but there's still a lot of friction from the water on the rest of the hull. If you could get the hull all the way out of the water, you'd eliminate that friction, and the boat could go faster with the same amount of power.

The Science

Most of us have a pretty good understanding of how an airplane flies. As air flows over and under the wings (also called airfoils), it creates lift. Once an airplane is going fast enough, the lift that the wings create allow it to rise above the earth.

If you were to mount a wing or two (called hydrofoils) under a boat, all that dense water can be put to good use by pushing the boat's hull out of the water. Then friction only acts on the small foils, not on the whole hull, which is why a 130-foot hydrofoiling sailboat can "fly" at over 50 knots. Powerboats have added friction from the propulsion system that has to remain in the water, but even then, large hydrofoiling ferries can exceed 45 knots.

Speed is not the only advantage that hydrofoils give boats. Because the hull is out of the water, all the energy from waves that would normally pound against the boat pass harmlessly underneath it, creating an eerily smooth ride. Even so, hydrofoiling is typically best in somewhat protected waters.

Don't look for hydrofoils on your next runabout anytime soon because they're much more difficult to engineer and typically triple the cost of a boat. The good news is that there are other ways to 'foil that are affordable — see "Experience Hydrofoiling For Yourself" at below.

Experience Hydrofoiling For Yourself

Hydrofoil kiteboards.

If you've even seen a kiteboard zooming in a strong breeze, you know they're plenty fast. Add a hydrofoil, and suddenly you add a new dimension. These boards take lots of skill and practice to master, but the ride is said to be much smoother and even faster than a conventional kiteboard. Cost starts at around $1,000.

Hydrofoil Waterskis

These single-ski hydrofoils are really a sit-on-ski, and once you've mastered the technique, the foils will lift you up and you'll be "flying." Unlike conventional skis, these aren't designed for speed, and 18 mph is where they typically "liftoff' and suggested top speed is about 25 mph. It's also important not to ski in shallow water due to the depth of the foils. Cost is typically $1,500 and up.

Hydrofoil Windsurfers

Not content to take a surfboard and add a sail, windsurfers developed foils that allow the board to "levitate." The biggest advantage is the smoothness of the ride — a real benefit because these rigs usually sail in very strong winds with plenty of chop. Cost is about $2,500 to get started.

Hydrofoiling Small Sailboats

You don't have to spend millions on a boat like the America's Cup racers if you want to hydrofoil. The Waszp costs about $10,000, though even for dinghy racers, there's a learning curve to get these boats on their foils, with speeds up to 27 mph.

Note that most companies suggest wearing a helmet when using foiling products because of the speeds achievable and the hard, sharp foils these devices have.

Foiling The Competition

America's Cup boats are often what people think of when they hear the word "hydrofoil." Hal Youngren, an aeronautical engineer and one of the designers for the 2013 and 2017 America's Cup racers, says the difference in speed that foils make is impressive. The fastest nonfoiling catamarans in previous races could barely reach 35 knots, while the 2017 foiling cats hit 50 knots. Youngren says that these 50-foot cats are able to lift their hulls completely out of the water using only about three-quarters of a square meter of foil area (about the size of a medium-sized TV). Below about 15 knots, he says, the boats sail much like a nonfoiling boat with hulls in the water, but once over that speed, the boats start to "fly" and their speed dramatically increases.

The America's Cup Class AC75 Boat Concept Revealed

An exciting new era in America's Cup racing was unveiled in November 2017 as the concept for the AC75, the class of boat to be sailed in the 36th America's Cup is released illustrating a bold and modern vision for high performance fully foiling monohull racing yachts.

The America's Cup AC75 Boat Concept Revealed

The Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa design teams spent the previous four months evaluating a wide range of monohull concepts. Their goals have been to design a class that will be challenging and demanding to sail, rewarding the top level of skill for the crews; this concept could become the future of racing and even cruising monohulls beyond the America's Cup.

The AC75 combines extremely high-performance sailing and great match racing with the safety of a boat that can right itself in the event of a capsize. The groundbreaking concept is achieved through the use of twin canting T-foils, ballasted to provide righting-moment when sailing, and roll stability at low speed.

An underlying principle has been to provide affordable and sustainable technology "trickle down" to other sailing classes and yachts. While recent America's Cup multihulls have benefitted from the power and control of rigid wing sails, there has been no transfer of this technology to the rigs of other sailing classes. In tandem with the innovations of the foiling system, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa are investigating a number of possible innovations for the AC75's rig, with the requirement that the rig need not be craned in and out each day. This research work is ongoing as different concepts are evaluated, and details will be released with the AC75 Class Rule before March 31, 2018.

The America's Cup is a match race and creating a class that will provide challenging match racing has been the goal from the start. The AC75 will foil-tack and foil-gybe with only small maneuvering losses, and given the speed and the ease at which the boats can turn the classic pre-starts of the America's Cup are set to make an exciting comeback. Sail handling will also become important, with cross-overs to code zero sails in light wind conditions.

A huge number of ideas have been considered in the quest to define a class that will be extremely exciting to sail and provide great match racing, but the final decision was an easy one: the concept being announced was a clear winner, and both teams are eager to be introducing the AC75 for the 36th America's Cup in 2021. — AmericasCup.com

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Contributing Editor, BoatUS Magazine

Charles Fort is BoatUS Magazine's West Coast Editor. He often writes local news items for BoatUS Magazine's Waypoints column and contributes to Reports, in-depth tech features in every issue written to help readers avoid accidental damage to their boats. He is a member of the National Association of Marine Surveyors, he's on ABYC tech committees, and has a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard license. He lives in California.

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Foiling and Hydrofoiling: Everything you need to know

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

A foiling International Moth dinghy. Photo: Christopher Ison / Alamy

What is foiling?

Although foiling or hydrofoiling feels like a recent revolution to take the world of watersports by storm, it is actually much older than many appreciate.

In terms of motorised waterborne craft, the first foiler was a motorboat designed and built by Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini in 1906.

It did, however, take quite a bit of time before foiling boats with sails took to the water, but even then many people might be surprised to learn that even in the 1970’s the foiling trimaran, Williwaw, covered over 20,000 sea miles in and around the South Pacific all on its foils.

It turns out the history of hyrofoiling goes back further than many think.

It was not until the early-2000s that foiling really started to take hold, with a  development dinghy class, the International Moth, leading the way.

Foiling boats

With huge amounts of interest in the 11ft Moth dinghy, foiling began to spread throughout the sport of sailing. And it was not long until hydrofoiling boats of all different shapes and sizes were taking the water.

Over time, some traditional classes converted to foiling – the A-Class and C-Class catamarans being examples. But more new boats were also designed specifically with hydrofoiling in mind.

In 2013 Emirates Team New Zealand built their 72ft America’s Cup catamaran to be a foiler, forcing their competition for the Cup, Oracle Team USA to convert their AC72 into a foiler to stay competitive – ultimately Oracle Team USA won the Cup in one of the biggest sporting comebacks of all time .

To date the America’s Cup has not looked back with the competition taking place in smaller hydrofoiling AC50 catamarans in 2017 and the newly conceived monohull foilers, the AC75 s, in 2021.

In 2021 the Olympics Games introduced the first ever foiling catamaran in the Nacra 17.

Foiling yachts

Offhsore, 90ft Ultime multihulls on their foils are competing to be the fastest to race around the globe and design houses across the globe are racing to create foiling yachts for the masses which could dramatically reduce cruising times from one destination to the other.

There are also many classes of yacht that are taking some of the lessons from fully foiling craft and putting them to use in a semi-foiling manner.

Here the biggest technical innovation is in the IMOCA60 class, which is famously used for the single handed non-stop round the world race, the Vendée Globe .

The latest couple of generations of IMOCA 60s have been build with huge, technologically complex foils to generate lift. These are powerful enough to lif the boats fully out of the water, but as yet the class rules do not allow for rudder foils which would stabilise flight and allow for full foiling.

Where sailing boats and yachts have, arguably led the way in the history of foiling over the past decade or so this has filtered down into a plethora of other watersports craft.

Although in the early days foiling was typically the preserve of elite sailors and watersports professionals, increasingly we have seen boats and boards designed to foil in the hands of the average sailor, surfer or windsurfer.

This race to bring the fun of foiling to beginners is continuing apace with beginner foiling boats, windsurfers, surfers etc. coming to the market every year.

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Hydrofoils for Sailboats

  • By By Steven Callahan
  • Updated: July 29, 2020

foils and cruisers

Hydrofoils have been providing dynamic lift since fish sprouted fins. And people have been employing foils ever since they first put paddle to water, and certainly since adding keels and rudders to boats. But the modern, flying America’s Cup boats, kiteboards, Moth dinghies, shorthanded offshore thoroughbreds—these are all ­playing in a new world in which the terms “hydrofoils” or “lifting foils” describe those oriented to raise a hull or hulls from the water. In these racing realms, if you ain’t got foils, you ain’t got nothin’.

Lifting foils that allow these boats to sometimes home in on three times the wind speed might appear to be of little interest to cruising sailors, but with such common cruising features as self-steering and autopilots, self-tailing winches, rope clutches, fin keels and faster hull shapes all having been passed down from the racing scene, one must ask, “What promise, if any, do hydrofoils hold?”

Lifted or partially lifted boat patents extend back to 1869, but workable watercraft took roots along with early flight. Italian Enrico Forlanini began experimenting with foils in 1898. In 1906, his 1-ton 60 hp foiler reached 42.5 mph. Alexander Graham Bell’s HD-4 Hydrodrome flew on Bras d’ Or Lake at 70 mph in 1919. And several sailing foiler patents began appearing in the 1950s. Notably, JG Baker’s 26-foot monohull, Monitor, flew at 30-plus mph in 1955. Baker experimented with a number of foil configurations, and at least built, if not used, the first wing mast. The first offshore foiler was likely David Keiper’s flying trimaran, Williwaw , in which he crisscrossed the Pacific in the 1960s.

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By the 1980s, numerous speed-trial and foil-enhanced offshore-racing multihulls showed huge promise, and have since evolved into behemoth trimarans clocking 30 to 40 knots continuously for long periods, not to mention the monohulls in the Vendée Globe (and soon the Ocean Race) that are capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots. But as boat designer Rodger Martin once reminded me, “If you want a new idea, look in an old book.” He was right. The fully foiling monohulls that will compete in the 2021 America’s Cup will bring things back full circle to the foiling monohull Monitor .

Fluid Dynamics Primer

Any foil—a wing, sail, keel, rudder or lifting foil—redirects the flow of fluid (air included), creating high- and low-pressure areas on opposite sides of the appendage, while developing lift perpendicular to the foil’s surface.

Advancements in foiling science is due in part to the hundreds of foil shapes that were tested, with tabulated results, by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the forerunner of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. For the better part of a century now, aircraft and boat designers have been able to choose from a spectrum of refined foil sections that produce predictable amounts of lift and drag for known speeds of fluid and angles of attack, or the angle at which the foil passes through the fluid. Sections of efficient faster foils, as seen on jets or as we flatten our sails to go upwind or reach high speeds, have smaller nose radii and are thinner, with the thickest section of the foils farther aft, up to nearly halfway toward the trailing edge.

Figaro 3

The most efficient foil sections at slow speeds are fatter, with the maximum thickness farther forward, and with larger nose radii, than faster foils. The angle to fluid flow or angle of attack also is greater. We see these slower foils on wings of prop planes and sails when off the wind or in light conditions.

Most sailors are familiar with traditional foils on boats, the teardrop sections of keels that produce lift to weather, reducing leeway, and of rudders, allowing them to steer. Even a flat plate can be a foil, but these tend to be inefficient. Such a shape is prone to fluid separation from the surface, meaning they stall easily, and they maintain poor lift-to-drag ratios. Even keels and rudders are somewhat lift-­compromised because they are ­symmetrical and have to work with fluid coming from either side, whereas lifting foils are more like aircraft wings or propellers, with asymmetrical sections honed for performance in a more stable, fluid flow.

The point is, any foil can be employed at various angles to the surface to prevent leeway, produce increased stability, or help lift the boat out of the water. But those not required to work with fluid flowing from opposite sides can then be honed to maximize lift and minimize drag. Asymmetrical foils were used on boats like Bruce King’s bilgeboarders, including Hawkeye , back in the 1970s. And, designers, including Olin Stephens, had previously employed trim tabs behind keels to improve keel performance.

Sails, which are heeled airfoils, not only drive the boat forward, but they also produce downforce, actually increasing the dynamic displacement of the boat. To counter this and keep the boat sailing more upright, multihull designer Dick Newick first employed slanted asymmetrical hydrofoils in the outer hulls of his small charter trimaran, Lark , in 1962. A portion of the lift developed by the hydrofoil resisted leeway, while a portion worked to actually lift the leeward hull, keeping the boat more upright and reducing dynamic displacement and drag.

Anyone who has ridden on even a foil-stabilized boat will know how riding at least lightly on the waves, and especially above them, beats smashing through them. When boats lift off, everything gets a lot smoother, drag falls away, and the boat accelerates.

Cruising on Foils

But why would a cruiser want to whip over the sea? Wouldn’t this demand an inordinate amount of attention by the crew? Would lifting foils even be applicable to a boat that must have substantial displacement to carry crew and stores? Aren’t cruising-boat hydrofoils an oxymoron?

Maybe, but I believe our boats’ hulls are likely to sprout fins much as fish have as we orient foils to more efficiently resist leeway, add stability, aid steering, reduce drag, increase comfort, allow for shallower draft, and enhance wider ­variations in hull shapes.

Boats have gotten increasingly wide through the years to advance form stability, improve performance (primarily off the wind), and boost interior volume. But the downside is that fat boats tend to slam more upwind. What if you could reduce dynamic displacement of the boat and lift that hull even partially from the water? The result would be less slamming, especially upwind.

At the same time, what about narrower boats that are known for being more seakindly, especially when closehauled, but lack form stability to carry adequate sail area for powering upwind, and tend to roll badly downwind? Or shallow-draft vessels that are lovely for cruising, but again, tend to suffer from reduced stability? Foils can give that stability back.

deck-mounted, ram-controlled foils

Looking ahead, boat ­designers might choose to reduce ballast, making up for it with a foil. In short, lifting foils can reduce boat drag and motion while increasing power and performance.

Pitching also does no favors for speed or crew comfort. Foils can come into play here as well. Foils parallel to the sea’s surface resist motion up and down, and a lifted boat skating above chop also is less prone to hobby-horsing through waves. Multihulls have always been particularly susceptible to pitching for a number of reasons, but watching videos of multihulls sailing to weather show an obvious huge advantage that foilers have compared with nonfoilers. Offshore multihulls now routinely employ T-foils on the rudders to control the fore and aft angles of the boat (attitude), a feature easily adaptable to any vessel.

OK, so what’s the cost? Obviously, the more things sticking through the hull, ­especially if they are retractable, the more it’s going to impact the interior. There would be added weight, complexity and cost. Foils also create noise, and there’s susceptibility to damage from hitting stuff. And let’s not forget compromises with shapes, purposes and things not yet imagined.

As for damage, it’s possible to fold the foils back into the hull. Think swinging center- boards or actual fish fins. Daggerboardlike foils can at least employ shock-absorbing systems similar to the daggerboard arrangements found in many multihulls. This includes weak links that are outside the hull, so if a foil is struck, it frees the foil to fold back or to come off before being destroyed or damaging the hull. Or, foils might hang from the deck rather than penetrating the hull, allowing them to kick up (and to be retrofitted to existing boats). These configurations also relieve the interior of intrusions, and keep the noise more removed from it. I have no doubt that numerous talented designers will be exploring all kinds of options and compromises in coming years, finding ways to make foils both practical and more than worth the compromises.

Sailing more upright, ­shallower draft, speed, ­comfort—what’s not to like? Just what is possible? I have a feeling the cruising community is about to find out.

Steven Callahan is a multihull aficionado, boat designer and the author of Adrift , an account of his 76 days spent in a life raft across the Atlantic.

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Hydrofoil Basics

Hydrofoils let a boat go faster by getting the hull out of the water. When a normal boat moves forward, most of the energy expended goes into moving the water in front of the boat out of the way (by pushing the hull through it). Hydrofoils lift the hull out of the water so that you only have to overcome the drag on the foils instead of all of the drag on the hull.

The foils on a hydrofoil boat are much smaller than the wings (foils) on an airplane. This is because water is about 1000 times as dense as air. The higher density also means that the foils do not have to move anywhere near as fast as a plane before they generate enough lift to push the boat out of the water.

The hydrofoils generate lift only when they are in the water; if they leave the water, the boat will crash down onto the surface of the water (and thus submerge the foils) until the foils generate enough lift to lift it back out.

Like an airplane, a hydrofoil must be controllable in terms of pitch, roll, and yaw. Unlike an airplane, a hydrofoil must also maintain a consistent depth. Whereas an airplane has a range of about 40,000 feet in which to maintain its altitude, a hydrofoil is limited to the length of the struts which support the boat above the foils.

Most commercial hydrofoils are boats with ladder foils (wings stacked one above another with space between them). This configuration is analogous to a biplane. But the reason for stacking hydrofoils is different than the reason for stacking two wings on an airplane.

Ladder foils make the boat easier to control when the water is not flat. If the boat is flying through waves, the wings will generate lift only in the crests; when the boat hits a trough the wings will leave the water and the boat will crash down. When a stack of ladder foils moves through the waves, chances are that some of the foils will be submerged even if some leave the water (unless the waves are really big).

There are two particularly persistent problems faced by designers of hydrofoils: cavitation and ventilation. Ventilation occurs when part of a hydrofoil pierces the surface of the water and air gets sucked down the lifting surface of the foil. Since air is much less dense than water, the foil generates much less lift and the boat crashes down. Ventilation can occur at any air-water interface.

Cavitation occurs when the water pressure is lowered to the point where the water starts to boil. This frequently happens with propellors. When a propellor is turned fast enough, the blades generate so much lift (i.e. the pressure on the lifting surface of the blades goes down) that the water flowing over the propellor blades begins to boil. When cavitation occurs, the foil no longer generates enough lift and the boat crashed down onto the water.

Note that a hydrofoil is not a hovercraft. Hydrofoils fly on wings in the water that generate lift whereas hovercraft float above the water on a layer of air. In both cases the boat's hull leaves the water, but the mechanisms by which this is achieved are completely different.

what are hydrofoil boats

It’s a Boat. It’s a Plane. It’s a Hydrofoil Boat: What Is It, How It Works, & Why Buy One! 

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Table of Contents

Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Boatsetter Team

We’ve created this helpful guide to introduce new and experienced boaters to the facts and features of hydrofoil boats. We’ll delve into the practical aspects and explore the advantages and considerations they bring. Whether you’re drawn to the efficiency of the design or the promise of smoother rides, hydrofoil boats might be just the subtle yet impactful change you’re looking for in your boating ventures. Post summary: 

  • What are hydrofoil boats & the works 
  • Why choose a hydrofoil boat 
  • What to consider before buying 

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What are hydrofoil boats & the works 

A hydrofoil boat is a watercraft equipped with wing-like structures mounted beneath the hull . The hydrofoils generate lift as the boat accelerates, causing the hull to rise above the water’s surface. 

Decreasing the hull’s contact area with the water helps to reduce hydrodynamic drag and wave resistance and increases fuel efficiency. Vessels can achieve higher speeds for longer distances, making hydrofoil boats ideal for applications like ferry services and long-distance travel. 

The concept of the hydrofoil boat emerged in the early twentieth century. Today, this innovation offers a thrilling option for boaters seeking a unique, efficient, and more environmentally friendly boating experience. Pro tip: On Boatsetter , you can browse through 20,000 different makes & models of boats! 

Why choose a hydrofoil boat

Three words: Speed, stability, and maneuverability!

hydrofoil boats

1. Speed  

The lift generated by hydrofoils allows these vessels to glide effortlessly, offering a thrilling experience for adrenaline-seeking boaters. Speed comes with improved fuel efficiency, which makes hydrofoil boats an eco-friendly option as well. 

2. Stability  

Whether you’re facing calm waters or challenging sea conditions, lifting above the water surface minimizes the impact of waves on hydrofoil boats. This provides a smoother ride and enhanced stability, which makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable voyage. 

3. Maneuverability  

Hydrofoil boats excel in maneuverability, offering a dynamic and agile experience on the water. Lifting enables quick and precise movements, making hydrofoil boats a preferred choice for boaters who appreciate responsive navigation.  

What to consider when buying a hydrofoil boat

hydrofoil catamaran

Complex design = Complex maintenance

The intricate design of hydrofoil boats, including the hydrofoils themselves and control systems, demands careful maintenance and technical expertise . Boaters should be prepared for higher maintenance costs and the need for specialized knowledge to keep the vessel in premium condition. 

Weather sensitivity

While hydrofoil boats perform admirably in various water conditions, they can be sensitive to extreme weather, especially strong winds. The hulls of traditional vessels remain fully submerged in water, which means they face more resistance on the water during strong winds. Hydrofoil boats are lifted out of the water, which means strong winds pose more of a threat to the boat’s stability and control. So, when you set sail in a hydrofoil boat you’ll want to be sure to carefully consider the weather conditions.  

Initial cost investment

The advanced technology, specialized materials, and intricate design that contribute to hydrofoil boats’ uniqueness also add to their price tag. Hydrofoil boats often have a higher initial cost compared to traditional vessels, so you should be sure to weigh the upfront investment against the long-term benefits. Pro tip: Trying to figure out budgeting to buy a boat? Read How to Rent Out Your Boat? (How Much Can You Actually Make?)  

Ready to try hydrofoil boating?

Hydrofoil boats offer an exhilarating experience for boaters seeking speed, efficiency, and stability on the water. Whether you’re looking for a quick thrill or want a more fuel-efficient option for your long-distance trips, we recommend giving hydrofoil boats a chance. 

Boatsetter boat rentals provide the perfect solution for those eager to try hydrofoil boating without committing to ownership. Seize the opportunity to experience the excitement firsthand and ensure your next adventure is not just a boat ride, but a hydrofoil-powered journey.

For more information, click here ! 

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What are Hydrofoil Boats?

Hydrofoil boats incorporating hydrofoil to help them propel much faster on the water are an attraction that has held the shipping industry for quite some time now. But it has to be noted that these boats are by no means the latest design.

Hydrofoil boats were created by Alexander Graham Bell and Casey Baldwin in 1908. They were used extensively in the early 1900s, especially during the First World War, by American troops of the United States of America, Germany and Russia to avoid mines.

Besides boats, hydrofoils are used in water skis, kiteboards and other extreme water sports equipment.

Table of Contents

How do Hydrofoil boats work?

Air flows over and under an aircraft, wing to create a lift. Similarly, a hydrofoil pushes the boat’s hull out of the water by generating a lift, allowing the vessel to ‘fly’ faster. Most of these boats can easily reach top speeds of 40 to 50 knots.

In modern times, however, these boats are gaining more momentum because they are faster and faster on the waters. A hydrofoil boat works in straightforward terms. The hydrofoil on the base of the boat allows it to move easily and ensures that the body of the boat – which in marine terms is referred to as the hull – does not come in any contact with the water.

Hydrofoil Boat

Also, since the hydrofoil works only if the boat is still on the surface of the water, it prevents the boat from rising out of the water and causing it to capsize. And if by any chance, it manages to come out of the water, its design will force the hull of the boat to crash back into the water, and the hydrofoil gets submerged till adequate thrust is generated to lift the boat and carry on.

Where are they Used?

They are mainly used for fishing, but given the speed factor, they can be used for many purposes in the days to come. As cargo carriers, they can help transport heavy materials across the ocean in a matter of days and weeks, thereby helping to solve the cargo getting delayed while reaching its intended destination.

Also, since the hydrofoil is the main engineer behind the propelling of the hydrofoil boat, even marine animals can escape the inadvertent attack when encountered by a cargo liner.

Hydrofoils reduce motion index. Hence less porpoising translates to improved passenger comfort, smooth ride and stability. They are not affected by rough waters compared to conventional boats. Also, most of these boats offer enhanced performance while minimising installation efforts.

World’s first commercially viable Hydrofoil boat

A maritime company based in Belfast launched a unique hydrofoil boat in June 2022. The boats are kept above water using electric-driven hydrofoils attached to the hull. This is a similar technique used by America’s Cup racing yachts.

The eco-friendly vessel is pushed upwards due to its underwater wings as its speed increases. The electric hydrofoil boat glides silently over water, as its hull does not part the waves, which reduces friction and drag, including operating costs, compared to conventional sailboats that run on fossil fuels.

The first boat in the series is the famous Candela c-8, infused with an innovative electric propulsion system. It can carry 12 passengers and has a maximum speed of 34 knots. They can be used as workboats or ferry crews to larger ships.

Important Points

However, it must be noted that the hydrofoil used in the hydrofoil boats consists of much smaller foils than the foils on a hydroplane. The density of water is much higher than the density of air, because of which not much pressure is needed on the hydrofoils to manoeuvre the boat on the surface of the water, thus explaining the reason for the foils in the hydrofoil in the boat being small.

Just like yachts which have revolutionized the shipping and the boating industry to a great level, hydrofoil boats are also capable of doing something equally great. Right now, they are not used much. Still, given the benefits and the efficiency, more people may take to boats using hydrofoils as a successful alternative to the existing ones.

Hydrofoil boats are compact, and unlike several other items with lots of restrictions imposed on them because of their compactness, they are free of any encumbrances, making them even lucrative from the point of view of any current and potential boat-owner.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. what is hydrofoil on a boat.

A hydrofoil is like an underwater fin or a curved wing structure that is made to lift a moving boat or vessel. It makes the ships faster by reducing drag.

2. How much does a hydrofoil boat costs?

Their cost depends on the brand, their features and other characteristics. However, generally, a simple hydrofoil vessel is around 5000 US dollars.

3. Should I add a hydrofoil to my boat?

Adding a hydrofoil to a boat boosts performance and speed, especially for boats that do not require trim tabs. They are also more stable than conventional sailboats.

4. When were hydrofoil boats used?

Hydrofoil boats were used in the early 1900s by navies of many countries. They were immensely used during World War I to avoid underwater mines.

5. Why are they not popular now?

These boats were very popular in the 1990s; however, they are not used or manufactured on a large scale now. This is because they are sensitive to impacts with floating objects and marine creatures.

You might also like to read

  • The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Boats – Top 20
  • Boats with a Difference: The High-Speed Crafts
  • Types of Sailboats – A Comprehensive Classification
  • A Guide To Types of Ships
  • Flettner Rotor For Ships – Uses, History And Problems
  • 23 Important Maritime Codes Used in the Shipping Industry
  • Top 11 Books On Boating

Disclaimer:  The author’s views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared, or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight.

Reference:  Mit

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About Author

Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.

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Hydrofoil Boat: All You Need to Know [2023]

Review Team

  • November 11, 2023
  • Hydrofoil Basics

Are you ready to take your hydrofoil boarding to the next level? Look no further than the hydrofoil boat! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of hydrofoil boats, exploring their history, mechanics, and everything in between. Get ready to soar above the water like never before!

Table of Contents

Quick answer, quick tips and facts, background and history, how does a hydrofoil boat work, advantages of hydrofoil boats, disadvantages of hydrofoil boats, hydrofoil boats in sailing and sports, hydrofoil boats for modern passenger transportation, recommended links, reference links.

A hydrofoil boat is a watercraft equipped with hydrofoils, which are wing-like structures that lift the boat’s hull out of the water at high speeds. This reduces drag and allows the boat to glide smoothly above the water’s surface. Hydrofoil boats offer increased speed, fuel efficiency, and a thrilling ride for water sports enthusiasts.


  • Hydrofoil boats can reach speeds of up to 60 knots (69 mph), depending on the model and conditions.
  • The first hydrofoil boat was developed in the early 20th century by Italian engineer Enrico Forlanini.
  • Hydrofoil boats are commonly used in military applications, sailing, and passenger transportation.
  • Hydrofoil boats require skilled handling due to their unique characteristics and increased speed.
  • The hydrofoil technology used in boats is similar to that used in aircraft, allowing for efficient lift and reduced drag.

Hydrofoil boats have a fascinating history that dates back over a century. The concept of using hydrofoils to lift boats out of the water and reduce drag was first explored by Enrico Forlanini, an Italian engineer, in the early 1900s. Forlanini’s early experiments laid the foundation for the development of hydrofoil technology.

During World War II, hydrofoil boats gained prominence in military applications. The high speed and maneuverability offered by hydrofoils made them ideal for patrol and attack missions. After the war, hydrofoil technology continued to evolve, and hydrofoil boats found their way into civilian use.

Hydrofoil boats work on the principle of hydrodynamics. The hydrofoils, which are typically located beneath the hull, generate lift as the boat gains speed. This lift raises the hull out of the water, reducing drag and allowing the boat to glide smoothly above the surface.

The hydrofoils themselves are wing-like structures with a curved shape. As water flows over the curved surface of the hydrofoil, it creates a pressure difference that generates lift. This lift counteracts the weight of the boat, allowing it to rise above the water.

To control the hydrofoil boat, various mechanisms are employed, including adjustable flaps and trim tabs. These allow the pilot to adjust the angle of attack and the lift generated by the hydrofoils, providing stability and control.

Hydrofoil boats offer several advantages over traditional watercraft. Here are some of the key benefits:

Increased Speed : Hydrofoil boats can achieve higher speeds than conventional boats due to reduced drag and improved efficiency. This makes them ideal for racing and water sports.

Fuel Efficiency : The reduced drag of hydrofoil boats translates into improved fuel efficiency. By gliding above the water’s surface, hydrofoil boats require less power to maintain high speeds, resulting in lower fuel consumption.

Smooth Ride : The hydrofoil design allows hydrofoil boats to glide smoothly above the water, minimizing the impact of waves and choppy conditions. This provides a more comfortable and enjoyable ride for passengers.

Maneuverability : Hydrofoil boats are highly maneuverable, thanks to their ability to quickly change direction and adjust their height above the water. This makes them ideal for navigating tight spaces and performing agile maneuvers.

While hydrofoil boats offer many advantages, they also come with a few drawbacks. It’s important to consider these factors before investing in a hydrofoil boat:

Cost : Hydrofoil boats tend to be more expensive than traditional boats due to the additional technology and engineering involved. The initial purchase price, as well as maintenance and repair costs, can be higher.

Skill Requirements : Operating a hydrofoil boat requires specialized skills and training. The unique characteristics of hydrofoil boats, such as increased speed and maneuverability, demand a higher level of expertise from the pilot.

Limited Use in Rough Conditions : While hydrofoil boats excel in calm and moderate conditions, they may not perform as well in rough seas. The lift generated by the hydrofoils can be affected by large waves, making the ride less stable and potentially uncomfortable.

Hydrofoil technology has revolutionized the world of sailing and water sports. Sailboats equipped with hydrofoils can achieve incredible speeds and thrilling performances. The America’s Cup, one of the most prestigious sailing events, has seen the introduction of hydrofoil technology, leading to exciting races and new records.

In addition to sailing, hydrofoil boats are also used in various water sports, including kiteboarding, wakeboarding, and surfing. Hydrofoil boards allow riders to glide effortlessly above the water, opening up new possibilities for tricks and maneuvers.

Hydrofoil boats have found practical applications in modern passenger transportation. These high-speed vessels offer a faster and more efficient alternative to traditional ferries. Hydrofoil passenger boats are commonly used for commuting between islands, coastal travel, and even short-distance international travel.

The speed and comfort of hydrofoil boats make them an attractive option for travelers looking to reach their destinations quickly and enjoy a smooth ride along the way. Many popular tourist destinations around the world offer hydrofoil boat services to enhance the travel experience.

white boat on sea under cloudy sky during daytime

What does a hydrofoil do for a boat?

A hydrofoil lifts a boat’s hull out of the water, reducing drag and allowing the boat to glide above the surface. This results in increased speed, improved fuel efficiency, and a smoother ride.

Read more about “… What is the Purpose of a Hydrofoil? All You Need to Know About Hydrofoiling™”

How much does a hydrofoil boat cost?

The cost of a hydrofoil boat can vary greatly depending on the size, model, and features. Entry-level hydrofoil boats can start around $50,000, while high-end models can cost several million dollars.

Read more about “… Hydrofoil for Sale: Your Ultimate Guide to Hydrofoil Boarding”

What are the disadvantages of hydrofoils?

Some disadvantages of hydrofoil boats include higher costs, the need for specialized skills to operate, and reduced performance in rough conditions.

Read more about “How Does a Hydrofoil Work on an Outboard Motor? …”

How fast can a hydrofoil boat go?

Hydrofoil boats can reach impressive speeds, with some models capable of exceeding 60 knots (69 mph). The actual speed depends on factors such as the boat’s design, engine power, and water conditions.

Read more about “… Hydrofoil Speed Boat: The Future of High-Speed Water Travel”

Hydrofoil boats offer an exhilarating and efficient way to navigate the water. With their ability to glide above the surface, hydrofoil boats provide increased speed, fuel efficiency, and a smooth ride. While they may come with a higher price tag and require specialized skills, the benefits they offer make them a worthwhile investment for water sports enthusiasts and those seeking fast and comfortable transportation on the water.

So, if you’re ready to take your hydrofoil boarding to new heights, consider adding a hydrofoil boat to your arsenal. Get ready to soar above the water and experience the thrill of hydrofoil technology!

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Foiling technology: everything you need to know about hydrofoils

Fitting foils to powerboats is all the rage, but how do they work and why is foiling back in fashion?

What is foiling?

Foiling refers to the use of hydrofoils attached to the hull of fast boats, which provides additional lift at planing speeds – often enough to lift the hull completely clear of the water.

What is the benefit of this?

Efficiency. The enemy of fast boats is the amount of effort required to push them through the water. Planing boats go some way to addressing this by rising up over their own bow wave and skimming across the surface, but the stern sections are still immersed, creating significant hydrodynamic drag. It follows that if you can lift the boat completely clear of the water, hydrodynamic drag is only acting on the foils themselves and the sterngear that propels and steers it.

Any advantages beyond efficiency?

Lifting the boat clear of the surface can reduce the disturbance of waves, smoothing the ride, but only up to a point. It’s not just about lift though – active foils can also be used to improve stability or handling and in some circumstances, can improve efficiency even without lifting the boat.

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How do foils work.

Foils work in a similar way to aircraft wings. In simple terms, as they move through the water they deflect the flow, which exerts a force on the foil. If that force is upward, the faster they move, the greater the lift.

So why are they so much smaller than aircraft wings?

Because water is much denser than air – almost 800 times, in fact. The foils have far more to push against than aircraft wings, so don’t require the same surface area.

Photo superyacht Oceanco © Guillaume Plisson

Is this new technology?

Far from it. Foiling technology can be traced back to 1898 when Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini began work on a ‘ladder’ foil system, obtaining patents in both the UK and the USA. He had a prototype operating on Lake Maggiore soon after. British boat designer John Thornycroft followed up with a series of scale models featuring stepped hulls and a single foil, and by 1909 had a full-scale 22ft prototype running. During WWII, the German military developed a 17-tonne foiling mine layer that was tested in the Baltic at speeds of up to 47 knots. By the early 1950s, the first commercial hydrofoil ferry was running between Italy and Switzerland and a decade later, a private hydrofoil yacht featured in the Bond movie Thunderball.

Why did they never catch on in production boating?

Traditionally, high-speed hydrofoils used large V-shaped foils that jutted out beyond the boat’s beam. This made berthing tricky and increased the draught. They were also costly to construct, vulnerable to damage and difficult to power, as the propellers of conventional shaftdrives would be clear of the water once foiling. Lastly, although hydrofoils were often more efficient than monohulls, high-speed cats could usually match the efficiency without the drawbacks.

Why are they back in the news?

Foiling technology came back into public focus when the 2013 America’s Cup contenders started to use foil-shaped daggerboards to hit speeds of more than 40 knots. Ben Ainslie’s spectacular last-gasp victory for the Oracle USA team and his subsequent BAR Land Rover Cup Challenger brought foiling to a global audience. More recently, we’ve seen the emergence of several foiling motor boats, including the SEAir RIB and the Sunreef Open 40 Power. More exciting still is the news that Princess will use an advanced Active Foil System on its new R Class superboat .

What has changed?

Technology has overcome many of the shortfalls of older systems. Simon Schofield, chief technology officer at BAR Technologies, told MBY the real game changer has been the adoption of ‘Dalí’ foils. Instead of two fixed V-shape foils, Dalí foils use four independent L-shaped blades that stick out of the hull at an angle before curving up like Salvador Dalí’s famous moustache. They are far more efficient and can be retracted, solving the berthing and draught issues. In addition, computer-controlled active systems allow the foils to be adjusted to suit speed and sea conditions. This doesn’t just improve efficiency, it can enhance the ride and handling too. When cornering, for example, a traditional hydrofoil boat doesn’t lean into the turn, making it uncomfortable for passengers. An active system can adjust each foil to induce the correct degree of lean. Modern materials also reduce drag and cavitation.

How about propulsion?

The Enata Foiler uses twin BMW diesel 320hp engines, but instead of being connected to the propellers with hefty drag-inducing shafts and gearboxes, these generate electric power which can be sent down a thin flexible cable to slender electric motors mounted on the retractable rear foils.

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What is a Hydrofoil Boat?

Hydrofoil Boat

A Hydrofoil boat is a vessel with a lifting surface (foil) attached to the hull to lift it from the water level at high speed thus decreasing the drag and increasing the speed of the boat.

There are many different types of boats in the world. All of them share some common and uncommon characteristics. This article discusses what hydrofoil boats are, what principles they are based on, what they are used for, and what their advantages and disadvantages are.

Following are some interesting facts about hydrofoils.

A hydrofoil boat or just a hydrofoil is a kind of lifting surface that moves up the hull as the boat gain speed thus minimizing the water drag and improving the speed of the vessel. They are similar to aerofoils which are used in airplanes.

Boats with hydrofoils are much faster than ordinary vessels and have been a great attraction in the boating industry.

The technology of hydrofoils is not very popular today, but it is not even new. They were first created by A.G. Bell and Casey Baldwin in 1908 that is more than a hundred years old. They were extensively used during the first world war by American troops. They helped greatly in avoiding the waters which were trapped by mines.

How Do Hydrofoil Boats Work?

Hydrofoil boats are gaining more popularity nowadays as they are faster and speedier on the ocean water. There is a hydrofoil that is attached to the base of the boat. This hydrofoil allows the boat to move easily on the water. It also ensures that the hull of the vessel does not come into contact with the water.

How do hydrofoil boats float?

Hydrofoils can only work if the boat is still on the surface of the water. Hence the body of the boat also prevents the vessel from coming out of the water and from causing a boat to sink or capsize .

These vessels are so fast and gain acceleration so efficiently that the hydrofoils lift the body of the boat out of the water. This reduces the drag and also allows greater velocity.

What is the Physics Behind Hydrofoil? – Principle Behind Hydrofoil

What does a hydrofoil do for a boat.

A hydrofoil boat is designed in such a way that if it ever comes out of the water, its force will make the hull crash back into the water and the hydrofoil gets submerged and till it generates adequate thrust for the hydrofoil to lift the boat and carry on with its operation.

At low speeds, the sits on the water surface with hydrofoils under the water. As soon as the speed of the boat increases, hydrofoils start creating lift gradually lifting the hull at a certain speed. At this speed, the lift produced by the hull is equal to the combined weight of the craft and the cargo.

Since the hull is out of the water, there is a decrease in drag instead of an increase in cases of traditional vessels. This results in greater speed and power efficiency.

Use of Hydrofoil Boats

Hydrofoil boats are used for several purposes. The primary use of them is in fishing. However, because of their high speeds, they can even be used for many essential purposes as well. They can be used as cargo carriers to transport goods over long distances in a short period.

It does not even affect marine life much as most of the boat does not even touch the surface of the ocean, unlike large cargo ships which have large water lines.

These vessels are advantageous because of their efficiency. The main disadvantage of fast watercraft is that a lot of effort is required to push it through the water. Some kinds of vessels try to solve this problem. They rise up over their bow wave and skim across the water surface.

However, even in these crafts, the stern is still immersed in the water which can create significant hydrodynamic drag.

In a hydrofoil, the boat is entirely above the surface of the water, and the hydrodynamic drag only acts on the lines and the stern gear. The stern gear propels and steers the boat. As the boat does not touch the water surface, it is not affected much by the disturbances of waves. It rides smoothly on the water up to a good extent. Other than this hydrofoil is also quite stable and easy to handle in certain circumstances. Also read:  https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/hydrofoil

Hydrofoils are very much smaller than aircraft wings. This is because water is about eight hundred times denser than air. Hence the foils have a lot more to push against than the wings of an aircraft. Thus, they do not require the same surface area.

Hydrofoils were extensively deployed during the first as well as the second world war by countries like Germany, Italy, and the United States of America. These boats are also used for sailing and other sports. Nowadays hydrofoil vessels are also being used as passenger boats in more than 20 countries all over the world especially in parts of Asia like Japan, Hong Kong, or Macau.

You may also be interested: Types of Bow Designs

Are Hydrofoils Good or Bad for boats?

There are pros and cons for every technology. Hydrofoils are no different.

Disadvantages of Hydrofoils

1) Prone to Accidents

A Hydrofoil boat can also have many disadvantages. First of all, hydrofoils can easily fall off the foils as a result of contact with any small disturbances as well. It can lead to several accidents in the waters.

Even though these vessels do not take up much space, if the foils ever hit a marine animal it could be fatal for it as they have very sharp edges.

2) Expensive

Another major disadvantage is that they are costly to build .

3) Unfamiliarity

Many people do not know these kinds of watercraft. They do not have experience in operating these and have a conservative mindset. Hence people do not usually prefer to use these kinds of boats.

4) Complex Engineering

These boats are very advanced when it comes to technology, and many people do not understand the science behind it. It is challenging to make propulsion systems and controls. These are also not very reliable. Even the maintenance cost for hydrofoils are very high.

These are the reasons why hydrofoil is slowly going out of use.

So in conclusion hydrofoil are some of the most innovative and a vital part of the marine industry but is also at the same time one of the least known types of boats. People do not know much about them and the technology that they use.

It is the reason why they may refrain from using and constructing them and why they are going out of use nowadays. Still, they are very efficient and beneficial, and people should study about them and at least try and consider the advantages that they offer over using cargo ships for specific purposes.

Advantages of Hydrofoils

1) Efficiency:

Are hydrofoils more efficient? Yes, hydrofoils are more efficient because of their extremely lightweight and less drag.  The low drag provided by the hydrofoils increase both speed and fuel efficiency.

Due to their design, boats with hydrofoils are fast.

Does a Hydrofoil Work on a Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon boat’s flat bottom produces drag which slows down its speed. A hydrofoil can increase enables the pontoon boat to glide over the water decreasing the resistance drastically.

Here is an example of a hydrofoil pontoon boat which uses the same technology to a great effect.

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What does a hydrofoil do to a boat?

Hydrofoil, also known as a foil, is a device that is becoming increasingly popular in the world of boating. With its unique design, hydrofoils can greatly improve the performance and speed of a boat, making it an excellent investment for any boater looking to enhance their experience on the water.

So, what exactly does a hydrofoil do to a boat? A hydrofoil is essentially a wing or blade that is attached to the hull of a boat, creating lift as the boat moves through the water. This lift, in turn, reduces the amount of drag on the hull, allowing the boat to move faster and more efficiently.

One of the biggest benefits of using a hydrofoil is increased fuel efficiency. By reducing drag, a boat fitted with hydrofoils consumes less fuel, meaning boaters can travel further and for longer periods without having to refuel. Additionally, hydrofoils can greatly improve the stability and handling of a boat, making it much easier to control and maneuver even in rough waters.

Another key benefit of hydrofoils is their ability to minimize the impact of waves on the boat. With their lift-inducing design, hydrofoils can help a boat stay more stable and level when traveling across choppy waters, reducing the rolling and pitching that can cause discomfort and motion sickness for passengers.

But perhaps the most impressive benefit of hydrofoils is their ability to greatly improve a boat’s speed. By reducing drag and lifting the boat out of the water, hydrofoils can increase a boat’s speed by up to 30%, making it a popular choice for speed enthusiasts.

A hydrofoil can greatly enhance the performance, stability, and speed of a boat. With its unique design, this device is a must-have for boaters looking to take their experience to the next level. So, next time you’re out on the water, consider investing in hydrofoils and experience the difference for yourself.

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Meaning of hydrofoil in English

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  • banana boat
  • container ship
  • semi-submersible
  • submersible
  • transport ship

Examples of hydrofoil

Translations of hydrofoil.

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a person who is able to work effectively without regularly needing to be told what to do

Fakes and forgeries (Things that are not what they seem to be)

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'He was so talented': US-born Olympic hopeful in kite foiling dies in diving accident

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

A rising U.S. born athlete who hoped to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Summer Games next month, died in a diving accident over the weekend, his family confirmed.

Jackson James Rice , who went by J.J., was 18 and competed in the sport kite foiling, according to information from his family and his Facebook page .

Kite foiling allows a person to "fly above the water on hydrofoils" attached to boards powered by large kites, according to the Royal Yachting Association , the national governing body for sports including sail cruising and sail racing. With a rider, boards can reach speeds up to 45 knots.

The athlete's father, Darren Rice, told the Matangi Tonga his son died of suspected shallow water blackout Saturday while free diving from a boat at Faleloa, Ha'apai.

Faleloa is in Tonga, an island country in Polynesia, part of Oceania.

Other divers found his body on the seafloor underneath the boat at about 12:15 p.m., the outlet reported, and attempts to resuscitate him failed.

USA TODAY has reached out to Rice's family.

Southwest plane almost hits ocean: FAA investigating after plane plunged within 400 feet of ocean near Hawaii

'I was blessed with the most amazing brother'

According to the newspaper, the athlete was born in the United States, grew up in Ha'apai and represented Tonga in kite foiling at international events "for several years."

In a Facebook post late last month, the late athlete wrote he competed in The Last Chance Reggata in Hyeres, France .

"This is where the remaining 5 spots for the Olympic games were to be handed out and everybody was on the top of their game and pushing to the absolute limit to qualify," J.J. Rice wrote May 25. "After a few mistakes on my part and not being able to keep with the front pack my Olympics dream for this Olympics cycle has come to an end, that doesn't mean it is the end for me. With another cycle just around the corner in 2028 I will be training as hard as possible."

In a Saturday post on Facebook, the late athlete's sister, Lily Rice, remembered her brother as a loving, amazing funny and unique individual with a global host of friends "because he was so lovable."

"I was blessed with the most amazing brother in the whole world and it pains me to say that he’s passed away," his sister posted in a tribute to her late brother. "He was so talented... He was an amazing kite foiler and he would have made it to the Olympics and come out with a big shiny medal and a even bigger smile."

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

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  • OS: Windows 7 SP1/8/10 (64 bit)
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Today we’ll tell you about the Pr.11451, a Motor Torpedo Gun Boat coming to the Coastal fleet tree at the end of the line for the USSR.

MPK Pr.11451 : A Motor Torpedo Gun Boat for the USSR at Rank V

  • Very high speed.
  • Automatic 76 mm cannon!
  • Good torpedoes.

In 1984, construction began on a new type of small anti-submarine boat for the USSR. Project 11451 boats, thanks to their high speed, towed sonar array and powerful weapons, were supposed to search for enemy submarines. A group of several of these boats could very quickly move to an area for the chosen search, carry out the search and if necessary, quickly move to new coordinates. Despite the planned large series of MPKs, only two Project 11451 boats were able to be fully completed before the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Meet the MPK Pr.11451 !

The Pr.11451 will be added in the Seek & Destroy major update as a new top tier Coastal fleet boat for the USSR. This amazing hydrofoil combines excellent weapons and very high speed and will be a good addition to the top Soviet naval lineups. Let’s have a look.

Coming in with a top speed of 120 km/h, the MPK Pr.11451 is driven by two gas turbine engines, has hydrofoils and can easily overcome shallow water. Thanks to this, this boat will be an ideal assistant when going for capture points in the coastal areas! It’ll be easy to be the first to capture points at the beginning of a battle, and it can quickly get into cover and evade shots. The general disadvantage of hydrofoil boats however, is that if you slow down in shallow water, you’ll probably end up getting stuck, so be careful here.

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

Alongside its agility, the MPK Pr.11451 also boasts excellent weapons. The main caliber of this boat is an automatic 76 mm AK-176M cannon on the bow, already known to you if you play the MPK Pr.12412 and 12412P. This gun has a good rate of fire, although not much less than the Italian Sparviero cannon. You’ll be able to pick from HE shells and HE-VT shells for use against aircraft or for quickly destroying the crew of enemy boats that are more open.

At the stern of the MPK Pr.11451 is a rapid-firing 30 mm cannon, as well as two rotary torpedo tubes with SET-72 high-speed torpedoes — 8 of these in total.

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

Because of its size, mobility and firepower capabilities, the MPK Pr.11451 is going to be one of the better Coastal fleet boats in the game. It’s going to be very versatile in battle by charging towards capture points and holding areas of shallow water, divert fire of destroyers and set up torpedo ambushes, and generally be annoying to aircraft. Be aware of your surroundings, and we’re sure the MPK Pr.11451 will bring you victory and pure pleasure in naval battles.

That’s today’s blog. You can look forward to this new boat in the Seek & Destroy major update, coming very soon. See you!

Please note that this vehicle's characteristics may be adjusted before being added to the game.

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

  • 14 June 2024

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

  • 13 June 2024

hydrofoil sailboat meaning

  • 12 June 2024

Comments ( 16 )

Yet another cold war ship fighting WW2 era PT-boats.... Great indeed

PanM90, If it's BR is the same as on the dev server (4.7) by that bracket it won't fight any WWII MTB's although it will fight some +600t TB's from WWII, But since in both modes anyone can use any ship of course it'll fight such vessels brought up in BR, Anyway it's no different to any other cold war vessel above 4.0 & like the other MPK's bar the large one it'll likely be easy to sink even from a WWII vessel.

PanM90, And another one for Russia as if they didn't have enough of them already

Yet another high power Russian coastal vessel that I'm going to have to face in my PT boats

thats so cool, i genuinely want to see krivak-class vehicles one day

Serious question: What's the point of this vessel? It doesn't add anything of value to the coastal mode, and Russian tree is already *stacked* - so... what's the point? There's so many other nations that would benefit more from the time and money spent on implementing this vessel.

"Shallow water domination"? Yeah, except when you get stuck on sand, if you are not going at full speed and the hydrofoils act like anchors.

Great, yet another 380,000 RP vehicles stuck on top of the tree. I barely do coastal these days, so my research there is very stagnant. Gaijin, please let us research coastal with bluewater ships, just like we can helicopters with tanks. Some nations I have fully researched trees, so my research goes nowhere. I cannot spade even a bunch of them, as that also would disappear into a black hole. Btw, a year later and we still haven't received research discount, if one tree is already resear...

so since this PT-boat has an radar for submarines. might we expect them soon?

EmEmiEm, I wish that was a better indicator for it, but just remember how many ships are already in-game, which were also designed with anti-submarine capabilities. :P We've got tons of them. However, I would love to see submarine gameplay finally implemented. It was great fun during the event.

How about instead of adding hydrofoils you make them able to actually turn? Because USS Flagstaff can't turn at all when at speed.

Aren't those torpedoes supposed to be guided torps?

Could we get a decal for the retirement of the SK60 yesterday for playing 3 games in the sk60 or saab-105's?

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MISCELLANEOUS:         | |  | | | |

� MARTIN L. CULPEPPER 1998 & 1999


  1. What Is A Hydrofoil Boat? Ultimate Guide [2024 UPDATED]

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  2. Hydrofoils

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  3. What is a Hydrofoil Sailboat? (Here’s What You Need to Know)

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  6. What is a Hydrofoil Sailboat? (Here’s What You Need to Know)

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  1. Sailing hydrofoil

    A sailing hydrofoil, hydrofoil sailboat, or hydrosail is a sailboat with wing-like foils mounted under the hull. As the craft increases its speed the hydrofoils lift the hull up and out of the water, greatly reducing wetted area, resulting in decreased drag and increased speed. A sailing hydrofoil can achieve speeds exceeding double and in some ...

  2. Hydrofoil

    A hydrofoil is a lifting surface, or foil, that operates in water.They are similar in appearance and purpose to aerofoils used by aeroplanes. Boats that use hydrofoil technology are also simply termed hydrofoils. As a hydrofoil craft gains speed, the hydrofoils lift the boat's hull out of the water, decreasing drag and allowing greater speeds.

  3. Foiling and Foil Shapes, a Beginner's Guide

    The L-foil is exactly that; a vertical daggerboard shaft that goes through the hull of the boat, with a single horizontal hydrofoil on the bottom, the whole thing shaped like an 'L'. If ...

  4. Discover the Magic of Hydrofoil Sailboats

    Hydrofoil sailboats blend speed, stability, and innovation for a fun sailing experience. Their design lifts the hull above water, reducing drag and enabling high-speed travel. Advanced control mechanisms maintain stability in varying wind conditions. Sails and hulls are meticulously engineered for optimal aerodynamics and lift.

  5. [2023] Hydrofoil Yacht: The Ultimate Guide to Sailing on Foils

    A hydrofoil yacht is a sailboat equipped with wing-like foils that lift the hull out of the water as it gains speed. This lifting action reduces the wetted area of the hull, minimizing drag and allowing the yacht to achieve higher speeds. Hydrofoil yachts can be retrofitted on both monohull and multihull sailboats, with different types of foils ...

  6. 2.972 How a Hydrofoil Works

    DESIGN PARAMETER: Hydrofoil (It is a foil or wing under water used to lift the boat s hull until it is totally outside the water.) 1. At low speeds the hull (body of ship) sits in the water and the hydrofoils are totally submerged in the water. 2. As the boat s speed increases, the hydrofoils create lift.

  7. Hydrofoil

    hydrofoil, underwater fin with a flat or curved winglike surface that is designed to lift a moving boat or ship by means of the reaction upon its surface from the water through which it moves. Ships that use hydrofoils, or foils, are themselves called hydrofoils. Hydrofoils can lift a boat's hull clear of the water as speed increases, and the resultant reduction in drag yields higher speeds ...

  8. What is a Hydrofoil Sailboat? (Here's What You Need to Know)

    A hydrofoil sailboat is a type of sailboat that uses hydrofoils to lift the hull out of the water. This is done by attaching wings or foils to the hull, which create lift as the boat moves through the water. This lift results in reduced drag and increased speed, allowing the boat to reach speeds of up to 20 knots or higher. ...

  9. Sailing's Hydrofoiling Revolution

    January 18, 2023. The foiling revolution is taking hold—and is coming to far more than just sailing yachts these days. Kevin Rio/69F Media. There's a revolution underway in the sport of sailing, and it can be summed up in one simple word: foiling. More specifically, we're talking about hydrofoils, the winglike appendages mounted beneath ...

  10. How do hydrofoils work

    Watch this first https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaRfXthP8fwLearn more at Waterlust.comJoin marine physicist Dr. Patrick Rynne as he explores the science b...

  11. Foiling: the history of the hydrofoiler

    The history of foiling. The early development of hydrofoils started over 100 years ago when Italian Enrico Forlanini achieved 36.9 knots with his 60hp airscrew-driven boat in 1906. Several ...

  12. Hydrofoils: Boats That Fly

    Then friction only acts on the small foils, not on the whole hull, which is why a 130-foot hydrofoiling sailboat can "fly" at over 50 knots. Powerboats have added friction from the propulsion system that has to remain in the water, but even then, large hydrofoiling ferries can exceed 45 knots. Speed is not the only advantage that hydrofoils ...

  13. Foiling and Hydrofoiling: Everything you need to know

    Where sailing boats and yachts have, arguably led the way in the history of foiling over the past decade or so this has filtered down into a plethora of other watersports craft.

  14. Hydrofoils for Sailboats

    In 1906, his 1-ton 60 hp foiler reached 42.5 mph. Alexander Graham Bell's HD-4 Hydrodrome flew on Bras d' Or Lake at 70 mph in 1919. And several sailing foiler patents began appearing in the 1950s. Notably, JG Baker's 26-foot monohull, Monitor, flew at 30-plus mph in 1955. Baker experimented with a number of foil configurations, and at ...

  15. Hydrofoil Basics

    A hydrofoil is a wing that 'flies' in water. Hydrofoil is also used to refer to the boat to which the water wings are attached. A hydrofoil boat has two modes of operation: (1) as a normal boat with a hull that displaces water and (2) with the hull completely out of the water and only the foils submerged. Hydrofoils let a boat go faster by ...

  16. Hydrofoil Boat: What Is It & How It Works, & Why Buy One!

    A hydrofoil boat is a watercraft equipped with wing-like structures mounted beneath the hull. The hydrofoils generate lift as the boat accelerates, causing the hull to rise above the water's surface. Decreasing the hull's contact area with the water helps to reduce hydrodynamic drag and wave resistance and increases fuel efficiency.

  17. What are Hydrofoil Boats?

    A hydrofoil boat works in straightforward terms. The hydrofoil on the base of the boat allows it to move easily and ensures that the body of the boat - which in marine terms is referred to as the hull - does not come in any contact with the water. Also, since the hydrofoil works only if the boat is still on the surface of the water, it ...

  18. Hydrofoil Boat: All You Need to Know [2023]

    A hydrofoil boat is a watercraft equipped with hydrofoils, which are wing-like structures that lift the boat's hull out of the water at high speeds. This reduces drag and allows the boat to glide smoothly above the water's surface. Hydrofoil boats offer increased speed, fuel efficiency, and a thrilling ride for water sports enthusiasts.

  19. Foiling technology: everything you need to know about hydrofoils

    Foiling technology can be traced back to 1898 when Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini began work on a 'ladder' foil system, obtaining patents in both the UK and the USA. He had a prototype operating on Lake Maggiore soon after. British boat designer John Thornycroft followed up with a series of scale models featuring stepped hulls and a ...

  20. What Is A Hydrofoil Boat? Ultimate Guide [2024 UPDATED]

    A hydrofoil boat or just a hydrofoil is a kind of lifting surface that moves up the hull as the boat gain speed thus minimizing the water drag and improving the speed of the vessel. They are similar to aerofoils which are used in airplanes. Boats with hydrofoils are much faster than ordinary vessels and have been a great attraction in the ...

  21. What does a hydrofoil do to a boat?

    A hydrofoil is essentially a wing or blade that is attached to the hull of a boat, creating lift as the boat moves through the water. This lift, in turn, reduces the amount of drag on the hull, allowing the boat to move faster and more efficiently. One of the biggest benefits of using a hydrofoil is increased fuel efficiency.

  22. Boating Basics: What is a Hydrofoil?

    Hydrofoils are a device that stabilizes your boat by lifting the stern and lowering the bow. They attach to your outboard motor or outdrive cavitation plate. Hydrofoils are also especially helpful in preventing your vessel from bouncing or "porpoising". These attachments act as a lifting surface that help get your boat up to plane quicker ...


    HYDROFOIL definition: 1. a large boat that is able to travel quickly above the surface of the water on wing-like…. Learn more.

  24. Kite foiling competitor J.J. Rice, dies in diving accident in Tonga

    Kite foiling allows a person to "fly above the water on hydrofoils" attached to boards ... Other divers found his body on the seafloor underneath the boat at about 12:15 p.m., the outlet reported ...

  25. [Development] MPK Pr.11451: Shallow Water Domination

    The Pr.11451 will be added in the Seek & Destroy major update as a new top tier Coastal fleet boat for the USSR. This amazing hydrofoil combines excellent weapons and very high speed and will be a good addition to the top Soviet naval lineups. ... Depiction of any real-world weapon or vehicle in this game does not mean participation in game ...