SuperFoiler - concept graphics by Morelli & Melvin SuperFoiler http://www.superfoiler.com
 

OK. Well that pretty much sets up a mindset from a time long, long ago. However, this is something from the here and now. And you can be sure that it is very much a product of, and absolutely going to change, the future of our sport.

The SuperFoiler is 7.9m long, 5.14m wide, has a 12.5m rig and a 295kg sailing weight. It has been developed to be the fastest course yacht ever, so to get a handle on it we spoke with Jack Macartney about the genesis of the idea. “Bill (Dad) and I came up with the SuperFoiler concept over a number of conversations at the dinner table!”

“In the context of this awesome age of flying/sailing, our vision was to step into the future with a machine that breaks free from traditional limitations to produce a new world of performance and appearance. Thus, pure innovation, design and technology leadership producing a captivating experience for viewers.”

 



“In our eyes, current foiling vessels were composed of pre-existing geometries, shapes or platforms, with foils then bolted on. So there was a clear space to create something born-of-the-foils. We briefed Pete Melvin, of Morrelli & Melvin, to start with the wheelbase and put a structure on it for maximum power to weight, minimum drag.”

“We have also created electronic systems to manage the foil controls with Thomas Global Systems, who are a mission critical aerospace engineering organisation. In essence, we gave Pete Melvin and his team a blank canvas, within a measured space, to create something completely new”, said Macartney.

 



I had been intrigued as to why it was listed as ‘better than anything in its class', when it really redefined the whole thing. Macartney agreed, saying, “Good point: I think it does redefine matters. Foil technology is not new. It is spreading throughout the sport rapidly, and there are plenty of amazing foiling boats on the water now. How awesome are the IMOCA 60’s!”

“In our view, ‘foiling’ it is the biggest technological shift in any sport in recent decades. The SuperFoiler is a foiling watercraft and will naturally be compared to other ‘classes’ in a similar size bracket. It is the overall concept, and inherent performance outcomes, which takes us into the new frontier.”

 



There is a more than strong 18-footer heritage inside the family, and as a class they are a tightly knit unit. Wandering through social media you will see that there are a big number of 18 sailors sniffing around the SuperFoiler like dogs at the park. So the natural extension is to find out how they see it fitting in and just how many of them will/have already got gigs on board?

Macartney said, “Sailors from a variety of classes all over the world are expressing a keen interest. I’m a passionate 18’ skiff sailor. As a young fella, I toured around Australia, and the world, with our 18’ Grand Prix circuit. We care deeply for the class and wish for it to continue strongly in the future. It is however no longer a professional class and thus development has been on a ‘refinement’ basis for many years.”

“The hull shape is now 25 years old. To re-create the class would, in my view, be detrimental to what it has developed into now, which is a highly competitive performance class, that a bunch of talented sailors who mostly sail part-time. And yes, some of those have aspirations to compete on our circuit.”

 



The tri formula lends itself more to foiling than a cat with crazy gearing systems required for the foils. So the interesting aspect is to determine of this was indeed the case in the design brief stage of the SuperFoiler. “Interesting point this and no doubt one that people will debate. The SuperFoiler was designed purely for foiling. The floats are the absolute minimum amount of structure required to house the rudders and daggerboards.”

“Thus the ‘tri' look is simply the visual effect of the floats, however these have been designed specifically to disperse water and ‘detach' in touchdown moments. They have not been designed to sail in-the-water whatsoever, and are not a hull in the true definition.”

Macartney stated, “Beyond that, they provide the trapezing sailors some freeboard to avoid being washed off in a touchdown. The centre hull is structure for the rig and allows for take-off capability. So its more of a hybrid flying boat than anything.” Yet the SuperFoiler certainly does not look like a Sunderland or a PBY, however… Far from it, and is as much of technical marvel as that stingray sub flying saucer gizmo from some ancient TV show I barely remember.

 



So Morelli & Melvin Design penned the SuperFoiler and Innovation Composites are building the hulls, with Hall Spars doing the rig and foils. That left the question of which loft was doing the rags. “It is Doyle Sails, and this decision was one of the most challenging to make. The product and their designers are world class, and it became clear Doyle were the right fit for us. The SuperFoiler is One Design initially, with ongoing class development.”

Remembering that Channel 7 are locked in to cover it, and with less than one year to run before the big show, you had to wonder what the timeline looked like, apart from stressful. “We’ve been working hard behind the scenes for the past couple of years, and are well progressed on all fronts. We have a strong team around us from technical to support, and we’re experienced enough to know we had to set a long runway. Whilst we’ve kept a fairly quiet profile to date, you can expect to see some rapid developments over the next few months.”

“The build is going well and on schedule. Innovation Composites are ‘can do’ people with a great work ethos, high skill level, and complete dedication to the project’s success. I am currently visiting Hall spars and Doyle Sails, who are both tracking very well. Hall are presently laying up the rig, rudders and boards, whilst Doyle's are making the sail membranes, which will then be completed by the Doyle China loft.”

 



SuperFoilers have been getting a lot of old 18-foot skiff video out there with a real glory days, but 21st Century design ethos mix going on. In a way, and very much in that way alone, there is a distinct parallel with the Super 12s. “That was certainly not intentional. We have hundreds of hours of our historical footage that people have been asking for us to share. This footage can’t be forgotten!”

“It also highlights our commitment to pure racing, and how our production differs from anything else out there, keeping in mind that was 20years ago. You can expect our SuperFoiler edition will be underpinned by a strong production philosophy. We are really looking forward to harnessing the new technologies available to us to bring the viewer into the action.”

Finally then, there are structural aspects associated with foiling and then also how quickly and silently you come up on both aquatic life and inanimate objects. So what of UFOs, as it were? “There are plenty of hazards associated with foiling. Change in anything brings about new challenges, and we have spent many hours crossing the t’s, dotting the i’s, and planning for unexpected scenarios. The rest is up to the skill of the sailors!”

The Macartney’s certainly do have a vision, and then the plan behind it to make this not only exciting, but genuinely a paradigm shift. For that alone it is worth paying close attention. Add in a contextual scenario where you are almost on board and it commands new, very much higher ground. And yes, that elevated perch is going to be around 2m off the surface. Argh. Argh. Argh.

You can keep up with all the 40+knot SupeFoilers news at their FB page, or website and see the video here

Latest Articles