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Where's Wally?

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 4 Aug 23:00 BST
SuperFoiler Championship in Sydney © Andrea Francolini

I do not know, and I was just considering that he might actually be easier to find... At any rate, the real question at hand here, is where are the SuperFoilers? The SuperFoilers got off and flying magnificently, albeit with the help of a few JATO bottles, and you can go back and check that out in Part One, and also Part Two. Then the wings seemed to fall off, as it were. This was absolutely not the fault of the originators and operators, as the second round of events was all set to launch into flight last Summer.

So then, just what did happen? We know the Administrator sold off the seven and a half craft with new foils and a whole bunch of kit, but we're not entirely sure to whom, and even less so about their intended purpose. We certainly would really like to know, for the boats were loved by the sailors, adored by the fans, thrilled the sponsors, and had the coterie in raptures. The various State tourism bodies were also well and truly up for the flight, and had bought first class tickets for the scenic ride of a lifetime.

No doubt those very originators will be still having chats across the dinner table, which is where the SuperFoiler was born, and perhaps we'll see some great new adventure soon. In the meantime, we just want to find out what the new owners have install for the craft that are like a love child between a pterodactyl, and a flying boat. With foiling the buzz of all buzz words, you just cannot leave them parked in a shed! They are like a Mosquito, or a Lightning, and need to be with the people and showing what real pace and some tenacity can really do...

Sticking with foiling then...

I spoke with Nils Frei, and Yves Detrey whilst they were at Copa del Rey MAPFRE in Palma de Mallorca on board the Alinghi GC32 foiling OD cat, as they were fighting it out with Oman Air for top spot. Nils and Yves are the two guys behind the very cool SYRA18 foiler. So here is some Q&A time with them.

The canting system is brilliant, where did that notion come from?

"We had the idea some time ago, taking in weather heel with Moths, lifting ideas and side forces, and looked to combine it all into one project. We tested our thinking on a modified A-Cat, which we call the 'proof of concept'. We put the foil in between the hulls, and saw pretty good potential with the way it works. What was clear early was that the vessel would foil efficiently upwind, with not much leeway affecting it."

"The first sketches were done back in 2007, and obviously we were still racing with the team, so it was a side project, and finally we proved it for ourselves. It took us a long time to arrive at where we are now, and over the years we were always thinking we had to do new boat. We had to make it different."

Equally, the mono to cat form with the rudders eliminates weight, gives beam and allows for form stability, I have seen one ocean racer design like this. What was its genesis?

"The structure and shape, and therefore the way you build it, are a matter of windage, which is an important factor when foiling. In the very next breath you have to think about drag, and righting moment. The double ruder provides for differential, and also makes it easier to foil, it is a stable platform to leave the beach, and you can just sit on it without it capsizing."

"If you build a fast monohulls you put a bulb there to counteract what goes on above, but a bulb is not right for a foiler. In a way, this really brings about one of our main discussion points. The SYRA18 is not about whether she is a mono or a multi, but rather sets the framework for boats to be classified as either low riders or foilers."

Why two-handed? Why not solo, or say three or four up?

"A lot of it comes down to costs. However, we certainly do imagine the same configuration on a bigger boat, maybe in the future. Also, not that many foilers can do two up, and it is important to share the pleasure and excitement with another sailor, not just on your own."

"There is potential to sail with three without a trap, and also sail solo with just the main, so that sort of versatility is part of the plan. We went with two up and the trapeze for the prototype, as this one is all about no compromise."

"The innovative hull and canting systems are critical to the vessel, so we wanted to go over everything before we went into production. We do not have to have a trapeze, for instance, and maybe we can add to or reduce the wings to account for various sailing styles. This is why there are no production moulds at this time. After we sail her next week we will be able to move closer to the final configuration, and commence work on the production moulds."

So just what is the Production Timeline, and where are they being built?

"We want to sail it this Summer, finish the details, and then design, so that we can be building by the end of this year or the beginning of the next. We have sailed a lot in Europe, and have many contacts here, so it will be done here."

That's very true, and you have plenty of good partners like Gurit, so how has it all come together?

"Yannick Le Morvan from Gurit was certainly the first to really get behind us, and then lots of people got involved because they see what we are doing, and genuinely believe in the concept and us. Professional sailing has also afforded us many contacts."

"Isabelle Rinsoz has been helping us since the start of the project. Her grandfather was involved in sailing at that time of the Whitbread, and Isabelle is the godmother of Pierre Felmann's boat, 'disque d'or', which would become known as 'Maiden'."

What will be the cost, or cost zone/range?

"Clearly we know this market. Realistically it will not be cheap, as we have high modulus carbon and other top end specifications. We also want to make sure it is as affordable as possible. It will be no more than double what a Moth is, which is very fair on a kilo for kilo basis as you have at least two sailors enjoying the experience."

Growing into it is smart, just how easy will the curve be, and for those with grey hair, will it require too much agility for ageing frames? As much as sailing a 49er would be cool, the lack of slow speed stability, and needing to get under the boom precludes a lot of sailors...

"We have considered a lot of this. The traveller is quite far forward in the design, directly over a beam, and the strengthened boom (to account for the extra load) is also quite high, which will make it easier for older sailors to get around. Also, the for'ard hand is able to go in front of the mast, which also aids with overall stability during manoeuvres. They will not have to unhook themselves, which is also safer again."

Sail and foil control is 'easy' (from your press release), but given she should do well over 30 knots, just how easy to master for the uninitiated? How have the controls been set up? Even a Nacra can seem alarming for a novice with all the control lines...

"Yes, there will be some trim of the for'ard sails, but really the crew ill be trimming the canting keel, more than say the Code Zero. Moving the canting foil dynamics under load is part of the joy. When a puff arrives you increase the righting moment to compensate. Ride height control will come from the proven wand type system, and the elevators will be run off control lines near the helmer."

Clearly the SYRA18 is designed to a be a visceral experience with the deck window, so was this a key element in bring the learnings from all they have done down to more sailors?

"The hole certainly allows for the lightest possible structure, but it means you can see and understand the how the foil works and what that means to the overall balance. It will be 'covered', so that it remains safe. We will use strings of Dyneema with a Mylar covering for the prototype and work from there for a production solution."

"Unlike the T-foil of a Moth that goes to leeward, and therefore means you have to find your balance, the SYRA18 comes to windward, and places you over the centre of effort. You are sitting on top of it. We removed the balance element, and therefore you do not have to do things that an older body cannot do. We had a 60-year-old sailor on our proof of concept, and it confirmed that being comfortable overall is the key to enjoyment!"

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review like the Fastnet, Para-sailing, 470 Worlds, Class 40, intel from North Sails, SailGP, 5.5m Worlds, The Ocean Race, AC, Laser Radial, the Macif Tri, AC, IMOCA, Transpac, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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