Hydrofoil technology meets the luxury yacht market?

If Zephyous Charters gets its way, hydrofoil technology made famous by the 2013 America's Cup race will soon be available on a luxury yacht near you. All that's needed is a little money.


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Tom Phillips and Zephyrous Charters needs a little financial help to develop this luxury catamaran featuring hydrofoil technology.

The hydrofoil is not new to the marine industry, having been first developed in the late 1800s by Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini. The first application of the technology, however, was to powered boats, both commercial and military. It wasn't until the last 20 years or so that hydrofoil technology migrated to the sailing side of the marine industry, eventually showing up most famously in the yachts competing in the 2013 America's Cup race, which pitted the US against New Zealand.

Indeed, there is much to like about hydrofoils, which are often made with composites — they reduce friction and offer a smoother ride because they actually lift the boat hull out of the water. They also help facilitate (combined with composite rigid wing sails) extremely high speeds. The two yachts competing in the 2013 America's Cup averaged about 30 knots, with peak speeds of more than 40 knots — 1.8 to 2.0 times more than actual wind speed. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that someone wants to bring hydrofoil sailing to the luxury catamaran yacht market. Sailing enthusiast Tom Phillips (Orlando, FL, US) reported on June 8 that he is developing a carbon fiber 70-ft/21.3m catamaran yacht with hydrofoils.

"The technology is available and we're looking to bring it into the cruising world," says Phillips. "We are seeking funding for the research, development and construction of a completely carbon fiber luxury cruising yacht that employs this foiling technology.

Phillips's company, Zephyrous Charters, has assembled a team to take on the project. Peter Johnstone, founder and CEO of Gunboat and well known for building carbon fiber catamarans, is the builder. The DNA Design Team from Holland will be the designer.

The yacht, says Phillips, will feature:

  • L-foil daggerboards
  • Central spine
  • Lightweight carbon fiber construction
  • Mainsail control system
  • Shoal draft

The problem/challenge is, of course, money. The project has a budget of $500,000. To meet this obligation, Phillips has launched a Kickstarter campaign and all contributors are invited to the 2016 Miami International Boat Show (Feb. 11-15) for a complimentary ride on the new catamaran.

Backers who make a $25 pledge will receive a T-shirt with the Foiling Cats logo. A $100 donation gets you a ticket to the official launch party at the 2016 Miami Boat Show. For $1,000 you receive two nights lodging in Miami, two boat show tickets and two launch party tickets. For $10,000, contributors can take a three-day cruise on the new catamaran.

So, dust off your checkbook if you want to see hyrofoiling and composites prevail in the luxury yacht market. 

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