Article

Foils fly into the future

‘‘Since I was tiny , I have dreamed of flying”, says François Gabart, holder of the round-the-world solo sailing record on his MACIF trimaran fitted with foils. “My dream has become a reality.” This revolution in technology makes boats glide above the waves. Free of all resistance, they gain enormous speed thanks to these marine wings, placed under the hull. Thrills and performance are multiplied, making many experts say that foils are heralding a revolution in all sectors of boating and navigation! This revolution was evident in the last Vendée Globe in 2016. The first four competitors were all equipped with these nautical wings. And this is only the start! Feedback from skippers has changed the perspective: the goal now is to design competitive boats that fly. A perfect example is the pure foiler Charal, skippered by Jérémy Beyou, launched last August, with a radical design and immense foils. Its maiden flight during the Défi Azimut race in September is a promise of impressive potential. This new generation of IMOCA yachts is the starting point for new generations of foils optimised for the next edition of the mythical Vendée Globe race to take place in 2020.

Promising potential

For the Breton companies in the competitive sailing sector, foils are a technological breakthrough with highly promising potential. A study conducted by Eurolarge Innovation on stakeholders in competitive sailing, revealed that 44% of company owners believe that foils will be considerably changing their businesses and practices over the next 10 years.

One example is the significant growth in the market for foils, now a major worldwide market, estimated at €150 million; firm economic potential revealed in April 2018 at the 5th edition of the Foil Racing Conference. Last but not least, foils are participating more widely in the development of new areas and sectors of navigation. It is bringing new competitors into the game. You haven’t heard the last of it! ■