Foiling motoryacht impresses in carbon fiber/epoxy

A project is underway to build a faster, lighter, hybrid-electric motorboat with foils and hull fabricated from carbon fiber and epoxy.

ENATA Industries (Dubai, UAE), founded by Sylvain Vieujot with offices in Singapore, France and Switzerland, was, says the company, born from the passion for applying high-tech engineering to sailing, flying and architecture, underpinned by advanced composites technology. In 2016, ENATA acquired the small Swiss company Hydros to add to its marine group. As an America’s Cup consultant and holder of numerous marine speed records, Hydros had begun a project in 2010 called FOILER, aimed at creating a foiling powerboat. A small-scale prototype with a hybrid propulsion system, dubbed HY-X, was unveiled by Hydros in 2015, and it won the Union Internationale Motonautique (International Powerboat Association) Environmental Award. ENATA began design and production planning for a full-scale boat, called FOILER, in 2016, to be built at the company’s Sharjah, UAE, boatyard and shop.

Foils, or hydrofoils, work like an airplane wing — instead of enabling liftoff of a plane, though, the hydrofoil creates sufficient lift to raise the boat hull above the surface of the water, greatly decreasing drag and, as a result, enabling much increased speed. The ENATA FOILER’s four patented foils enable the hull to “fly” 1.5m above the water at speeds up to 46 mph. The foils are fully retractable and do not intrude into or impact the hull space. The propulsion system (supplied by Mecachrome, Amboise, France) comprises twin 300-HP diesel/electric hybrid engines powering two generators that drive two custom electric torpedoes, with the torpedoes mounted adjacent to the rear foils.

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ENATA opted for carbon fiber infusion to fabricate the foils and hull — rather than the fiberglass used in most marine composite structures — to achieve high strength and stiffness and the low weight required to achieve lift, given the hybrid electric drive. Sicomin Epoxy Systems (Châteauneuf les Martigues, France) had worked with ENATA since 2016 and was brought into the project to supply epoxy resins compatible with carbon fiber. ENATA chose Sicomin’s SR8100 epoxy system for the infusion, because the resin is formulated with very low viscosity at ambient temperature and is compatible with a range of hardeners for small or large parts, enabling fast demolding. SR8100 has Germanischer Lloyd certification approval.

“We have worked with Sicomin on various projects over the last few years and have every confidence in their products,” says Vieujot. “We know we can work with them to develop custom products when needed. FOILER’s performance wouldn’t have been possible with a heavier E-glass structure.”