Dilemma for Foiling Fanatics

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Chris Ostlind, May 17, 2006.

  1. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    This thread has been running on Sailing Anarchy for the past couple of weeks. There are some foolish postings and some very good indications of the problems as presented by the presence of sea weed for conventional boat keel surfaces.


    For a regular keel design, this shows-up as added weight and drag... impairing performance to the point of having to stop the boat, clear the foil and get on with the business of sailing. Certain designs with swept keels can sail on while the weed clears itself, though that is not common for performance designs.

    For a foiler, this is a complete death sentence, as not only do you have to deal with the added weight and drag, but you also have to recognize that any foreign crap wrapped around the lifting foils will completely negate the process of lift.

    The result... your cool People's Foiler has now sprung a leak in the performance department, making it slower than any trad boat out there until you perform a diving session and clear the keel and lifting foil of detritus.

    Let me make this very clear. Foilers Can Be and interesting off-shoot of trad sailing technology. They have really interesting performance potential when compared to the normal, surface borne craft of the day. Now here's the caveat..

    Oh, sure, you can install a mechanical weed cutting system for the vertical and horizontal surfaces, but that adds weight, complexity and hassle factor to what is supposed to be a relatively simple boat to own and operate.

    Foilers have a serious vulnerability to anything, (really, anything) that is in the water that can disrupt the foil's lifting capacity, relegating the previously high speed boat to less than the performance of a cleanly sailed, conventioanl fleet boat for teenagers.

    Have any of the so-called hotshoes of foiling ever sailed their boats without the benefit of lifting foils to see where in the speed rankings they would fall? If they have, that's what you can expect from a fouled foil system until the driver clears the weeds/crap from the lifting surface. Faster than a F18 or Tornado? not happening. Faster than 49er? no way.

    It's all or nothing guys and that doesn't make for a People's Boat of any kind, in any conditions.

    One day, the folks pumping the hype will actualy get that reality.

    Chris Ostlind
    2 people like this.
  2. Figgy
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    Figgy Senior Member

    Ouch! Thats going to hit a few people here where it hurts. I am suprised you havent been flamed yet!
    Really though, you just said what I've been thinking the whole time. Foiling is just a novelty. There is no practical use for it, and people have been playing with it for decades. Its just a toy for tech geeks.
    Great post, Chris.
  3. foilr
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    foilr Yes I've sailed one.

    A regular Moth tops out at about 16 knots reaching. It goes upwind just faster than a 29er. Running square it is marginally faster than a Finn.

    A foiling Moth which isn't foiling is slower again.

    I've got to agree that foiling is a novelty, but that said, going sailing on a foiler might help you form a better opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of the idea.
  4. Raggi_Thor
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    Raggi_Thor Nav.arch/Designer/Builder

    I would invent a sliding knife or a sharp wheel, something like a "pizza knife" rolling up and down the leading edge.... :)
  5. Figgy
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    Figgy Senior Member

    Thats a good idea for the vertical foil but what about the horizontal one. could they be swept back so it (kelp,ect) slides off?
    Chris still has a great point. Makes the whole thing more complex.
    I would love to go for a spin on one, but I dont know of many/any in my area. And to be honest, I doubt it would change my mind. If I was going to drop that kind of cash on a boat anyways, it would have to be on a Tornado or some other A-class cat.
    To each thier own.
  6. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Doug and Mr Ostlind are rather mirror pairrs on foils really aren't they, one overegging the case born of excess enthusiasm, and the other, well lets just say that its always risky to pontificate on a technology that you have no practical experience of...
  7. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member


    "and the other, well lets just say that its always risky to pontificate on a technology that you have no practical experience of..."

    Then there's one fairly solid way, gggGuest, you can prove that a lifting surface, once marginalized by foreign material other than that which makes the surface itself, can still provide the necessary lift to keep a foilborne craft above the water.

    Get yourself a foilborne boat, wrap the foils in plastic bags or seaweed (or any combo of those two commonly found items that float freely in the sea) with weed substances being the most common and show us the mpeg clip that proves that the boat is not hampered by either the additional drag through the water, or that the foil still provides lift.

    I'm of the opinion that the boat will suffer greatly when compared to the standard that has been touted repeatedly. You, of course, may have a different opinion.

    Perhaps the previously attached URL link to the weed discussion at Sailing Anarchy does not have value to you. Perhaps the areas where you sail do not have a weed issue present which would change the criteria by which you sail... I don't know how that fits for you, but consider this:

    Airline companies spend considerable sums each year to prevent ice from forming on the wings of their craft. The iced-up conditions on an airplane wing’s surface do the same things to those foils that a hunk of seaweed does to a keel or lifting foil on one of the foilers. Excess weight over design loadings, increased drag and surface deformation of the foil that disrupts lift to the point that the aircraft can fall out of the sky.

    Next issue. I do have direct and personal experience in foil equipped craft, having sailed both the Hobie Trifoiler, as well as the Windrider Rave at a West Coast US sailing area in San Pedro Harbor known as Hurricane Gulch. The location is well-known by sailboarders, cat sailors and numerous speed seeking craft of an experimental nature.

    The conditions there are ideal for fast sailing as the best wind is inside the harbor breakwater with relatively smooth conditions and a regular, afternoon wind that funnels around the rocky promontory of Point Fermin.

    Both boats were extremely fast, produced prodigious amounts of G-forces when turned and were sensitive to helm inputs and sail trim. I enjoyed the experiences quite a bit, but I would not own either as a regularly used boat as there are a great deal of extra elements to keep in adjustment, relatively fragile appendages to be concerned about when operating in shallow water and the cost/benefit does not fit my criteria for a recreational craft for enjoyable day sailing.

    Now those arguments may not hold significance for you when it comes to a choice of boat, but I feel they hold huge power to the everyday public person who is being sold on the promise of a fast, hassle free boat.

    It may very well be that, one day, many of the issues that have raised on this forum will be solved. Unfortunately, they aren't right now. So, lots of trial and error, as well as design work, need to be focused on the issues before any product can be brought to the market as commercially viable.

    There are reasons why the Trifoiler and the Rave didn't make it as commercial enterprises. There are also reasons why the Moth foiler has not been a huge success, even in Australia where an established, conventional Moth enterprise is already in place to provide a natural jumping-off point to the foil equipped versions. In spite of that, the boats don't seem to be blowing-out other established fleets as sailing enthusiasts rush out to be the latest and greatest.

    I'm not opposed to the concept of the foiling boat in and of itself, I just don't think it's anywhere near ready for a commercial introduction in the manner that has been, shall we say, "promoted" on these pages.

    One can not talk one's way past unresolved substantive issues while said product is still in a state of design flux. I've produced, literally, a hundred promotional video programs for products that were being brought to market as the best thing yet. In some cases, the products actually were quite ready for market and the ensuing sales reflected that state of readiness.

    On the other side was the fact that there were many, many products that were being literally hustled with little real potential for a substantive enterprise as the hard work had not been done and all they had was one, rather cobby, prototype that worked... sometimes.

    Over a very short period of time, I grew to dislike that style of enterprising hyperbole and now I have a much stricter sense of what I will accept as legitimate design enterprise.

    Produce a viable product, prove that it can do what it is supposed to do by all the claims AND that it can be produced in an economical fashion so that folks can actually afford it, and I'll be the first to say, Hey, Great Job!

    Otherwise, it's just a one-off exercise like several hundred other experimental craft that get built each year in far corners of the globe (which is valuable in it's own right for purposes of discovery), but it's not a viable product that fits the previous claims.
  8. Figgy
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    Figgy Senior Member

    Passion of the Chris

    Your killin' me now, Chris. I've gotta know...Why? Why are you so passionate about foilers? I read some of your posts in other threads, and while I agree with you about foilers, I don't understand why you get so pumped about it. It really seems to strike a nerve with you. It's cool, I'm not talkin' smack. Like I said, I'm with you on this, but the size of your posts show some serious dedication to the subject. Personally, I try to skip the threads I know are going to yank me the wrong way. You jump right in. I gotta respect that!
  9. frosh
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    frosh Senior Member

    Has anyone seen Doug Lord?

    Hi folks, has any one else noticed that one person who has been what most will agree "overly passionate about foiling for the masses", is conspicously absent from this thread! Maybe he doesn't disagree with problem of rubbish attaching to foils but doesnt believe that it damns the species.
    From personal experience my sailboard can go from planing at 20 knots to going almost sideways at less than 5 knots with about a dozen strands of ribbon seaweed on the fin. If it happens too often I think about changing locations, not about sailing on a different type. :)
  10. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Maybe Doug, like me, is perhaps thinking "never wrestle with a pig..." There is a steadily increasing number of sailors with Moth foilers in the UK, I know a lot of them, and they do not have practical problems. Moths have been sailing regularly with horizontal rudder foils for 10 years, I14s for around 5, and there are various other boats round the world. There is plenty of experience with how much of an issue this sort of thing is, and the number of boats and classes using this kind of technology increasing all the time. They don't have significant problems in practice either.

    No boat sails well if the water is full of solid objects of any kind, so I don't sail in such places in any kind of boat. Lets take a similar analogy. Most modern high performance boats have daggerboards. When such things were introduced there was much wailing from the ignorant and uninformed that such devices were dangerous because they wouldn't flip up under rocks and other obstructions in the water. Hundreds of thousands of daggerboard equipped boats in the world suggest that OK, you don't sail in two foot deep water with rocks on the bottom. End of story. Doomsayers made to look foolish. I suggest you learn from their mistake.

    Our friend here is coming up with very familiar forms of prejudice born of ignorance. I don't, as it happens, believe that the foil Moth solution is a mass market option at the current state of the art, but the limitation is the boat handling talent required and the inconvenience off the water, not rubbish in the water. Improved ideas and technology may well solve both of those and bring foil technology to a mass market: I don't know and am not prepared to make predictions.
  11. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    "I don't know and am not prepared to make predictions....

    "End of story. Doomsayers made to look foolish. I suggest you learn from their mistake."

    "never wrestle with a pig..."


    gggGuest: Do you suppose it reasonable to come out from behind your fake name so that we can get a good look at the dude behind the curtain? If you have the boldness to speak, why not the boldness to declare your real person and use your proper name?

    I have kept the topic on point with this thread and now you resort to the oblique personal attacks that are positioned as passive aggressive posturing. Please keep your points specific, directed to the issue and don't personalize the commentary.

    If you need help with the forum guidelines, there is ample material posted by our owner/moderator elsewhere on the site that will help with your potential choice of tactics. You can reference the guidelines here:


    Actually, guys, the point of all this is not that these boats don't work. Under the right, optimal window they can perform, though I still think they're a long way off from being commerically viable... if they ever will be.

    Virtually the entire effort of my writings on the matter have been to establish a satirical counterpoint to the hyperbole that has been dumped on the group in the name of what is an extremely tiny niche element of the sailing world.

    Just like the fact that 996 GT2 RS Porsches will never be automotive industry sales leaders, or high performance, big bore GSX 1300R Hayabusa Suzuki's do not sweep sales numbers when compared to the more sedate cruising bikes, these types of boats are destined to fill a small, unique position in the vast cornucopia of what is available to the recreational sailor. If that bit of future telling is bothersome... then, by all means, go out and vote for your preferred end of the sailing spectrum with your cash in hand.

    My bet will be that you will soon grow tired of the single dimension aspect of this type of machine and soon enough, you'll sell it and get a boat that works nicely in a wide variety of conditions for sailors of typical capabilities. Revisit the easily discovered info on the Internet regarding issues surrounding the Trifoiler and the Rave for additional info on this aspect.

    Attached Files:

  12. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    Foiling Hype?

    Well said GGGguest! I've had many discussions with Jim and while he doesn't necessarily choose to blow his cover- he posts on a number of forums -he generally contributes in a most calm and rational manner. I've had many disagreements and areas where I agree with Jim but one thing I know for sure: he is one of the MOST knowledgeable small boat sailor/designer/builders posting to this or any other forum!
    ****I thought I would try to restrain myself in replying to this topic in order to try to help the people who have genuine concerns about the effect of weed etc on real world foiler performance-particularly in the Moth class. So I wrote to three of the most experienced Mothies and asked their view:
    Rohan Veals experience-(also see his website at: http://www.rohanveal.com/home.html ):
    " All I can say is that I have only had 1 problem with weed when racing, but it is easily cleared by lifting the boat up as high as possible to clear it off in the air. I have no problem beating 49ers, but am close to beating a tornado."
    John Iletts experience( www.fastacraft.com ):" * In sailing foilers here in Perth, Melbourne, Lake Garda and Sydney Harbour over the last four years I do not know of anybody who has caught weed. I once caught a hat and it just slowed you down until it fell off. Even when it may happen it would likely only be on the vertical foil and not the lifting foils. The dilemma of weed is so rare and no more of a problem than the many other mishaps which happen when sailing such as a a rope breaking or a fitting failing etc."
    Ian Ward's experience(Ian Ward was the FIRST person to sail a bi foil Moth in1999 and has tremendous experience with the development of numerous foiling systems. He has had several articles published in Seahorse magazine chronicling the development and potential of the foiler Moth and monofoiling in general. He is the first to propose several new classes of monofoiler ):
    ****"We have 8 foilers racing locally each weekend. Only once did I hear about weed and that was 6 months ago. The boat slows down. No big crashes. They are quite forgiving. This is no big issue. "
    My personal experience: I had the great pleasure to work with Dr.Sam Bradfield who has experimented with foiling for 40 years and is the designer of the Rave, Eifo and Skat multifoilers among others. He told me that weeds are a negligible problem in most areas and that he had never had a foiler of his crash or become disabled in any way due to sea weed or the normal trash found in lakes and coastal waters-not once in 40 years!
    **I've got over 200 hours sailing one RC monofoiler(microMOTH) and two RC multifoilers(F3) in lakes and in the intercoastal and have had instances where the boats were pulled out of the water with weeds wrapped around the vertical fin or fins. But from shore I never noticed any speed reduction and not once in all that time was there a crash due to weed or any other object in the water. I've had about twenty hours sailing a full size multifoiler(Rave and my own monofoiler-aeroSKIFF 16) with no problems ever attributable to weed or anything else in the water. The concern about weed or other trash is completely out of proportion to the reality experienced by foilers all over the world-it is of negligible import in the real world in most areas. And in areas where weed is a problem it is a problem for every boat. In the ocean, technology is rapidly approaching the level where it will be possible to have ample warning on large foilers of objects floating at or near the surface.
    ******Two foil monofoiling was born only 7 short years ago and is an extraordinary development in high performance sailing. It has only just begun to have any impact but the impact has been dramatic with the little 11' foiler Moth beating most boats under 20' around a course in conditions suitable to both boats. It is only the beginning(see the "Peoples OLYMPIC Foiler" thread) of a revolution in sailing from small boats to maxi skiffs.
    ******Here is a letter forwarded to me by John Ilett from one of his customers that helps to illustrate the allure of monofoiling:
    *"Hi John,
    I went out to sail on Sunday (Saturday was way to rough) and it was the greatest sail I've ever had in my life. When the boat came out of the water and started to speed up, my adrenaline jumped to the roof... you know how it is. Foiling was much easier then I expected, I still need to fine tune it, but it was quite easy to get up and I didn't even had any big crushes, all was going*nice and smooth. Thanks a lot for the boat, that was a really good job. Cheers,
    Jaroslaw (Yarrek) Bialkowski "
  13. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    For some reason this is the one place on the net I find it advisable to preserve a little privacy. But now its time to take my own advice.

  14. Andy P
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    Andy P Junior Member

    So there's a bit of weed, and you go slow ( or even crash) - but moth foiler crashes are not unusual.

    It's no big deal.

    For daggerboard dinghies, I always do a weed check ( lift the board right up ) a couple of minutes before a championship race start.
    Sometimes I have had mysterious speed loss during a race, and only after finishing find there was some weed. - in close racing you have to judge which loses more - a bit of weed, or stopping for a weed check.
    The solent is often so murky, you can't see the board for a visual check!
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