The majority of sailors may think that foiling a Laser is an impossible task, but a bolt-on kit offers sailors the chance to fly on water
Few sailing fans will forget the exhilarating sight of watching Sir Ben Ainslie flying above the water to claim victory on Team Oracle’s AC45 during the 34th America’s Cup. Outside of the world of professional racing, a foiling Moth is the closest leisure sailing craft has ever gotten to the added speed and adrenaline of lifting off the surface. But the invention of a new bolt-on foiling kit means the experience is open to more sailors than ever before.
After four years of product and design testing, Peter Stephinson and Ian Ward launched the Glide Free Foil kit for Lasers in 2013. The key element of the kit is a horizontal lifting foil that’s controlled by a surface-sensing wand, which is built into the centerboard. A special insert is fitted into the Laser centrecase, which accepts the foil and locks it in position, with no need for fastenings or any alterations to a standard Laser dinghy at all. The system is also unique in the sense that it can be rotated for and aft and retracted for ease of launching.
It initially takes half an hour to set up the centrecase insert and no more than five minutes to change between foiling and standard displacement mode.
Designed off the back of Ian Ward’s foiling Moth, the duo is hoping their invention will encourage more people into the sport.
“We took one of Ian’s original Moth foils and adapted it to a light weight 14ft skiff to do our testing. Based on this success, we adapted the system to fit the Laser and nine months later got it to work. We then spent three years making sure we were covered with an international patent protection”, says Peter.
“A surreal feeling is experienced as you lift silently above the water and race down the bay at high speed, comparable with high speed catamarans.”
High tech stainless steel materials have been used in the key areas where exceptional strength is required, while the rest is constructed of durable, corrosion resistant engineering plastics and heat-treated aluminum in order to keep the kit affordable.
This revolutionary piece of kit is said to give a Laser a 200 to 300 percent increase in speed, compared to sailing in displacement mode. And one man who can verify the claims is Sea Sure’s technical sales manager Dan Henderson who is an International Moth sailor himself. He is one of the few people in the UK who’ve had the privilege of trying out the Glide Free Foils kit and was impressed at the Laser’s increased performance.
“Everyone I’ve seen jump in it has come off the water with a smiling face and absolutely loved it,” he said, speaking to YBW.com.
Sea Sure were involved in the design and manufacture of the rudder stock that’s fitted to the foils, which led to him taking them out for a test run in Stokes Bay.
“The price is around £2,200, which some people might think is expensive but when you compare it to the cost of a Moth which is £16k plus, it’s quite a cheap way of getting into foiling and going quite quickly.
“The guys that have invented it have done a really good job on the finish of the actual product. When we got the kit over here, what they’d put together was really well made and thought out.
“All the people out there that want to get into foiling but don’t necessarily think they’re good enough or have the money to go Moth foiling, it’s definitely a product to look at.”
So far, just under 100 units have been sold across the globe since launching in 2013, with some of the kits heading to Manchester and Stokes Bay here in the UK.
Phil Bookallil from Middle Harbour Amateur Sailing Club in Sydney couldn’t rate the foil kit highly enough.
“It’s everyone’s dream to go faster and faster and a Laser certainly can give some thrills. But once you are on the foil it is a whole different ball game,” said Phil.
“Taking off is like being on a plane where you go faster, then super-fast and smooth. The sound of the water disappears and you then glide above the water at top speed.”
The kit has also already won and been nominated for several awards and Peter is hoping their continued success will see hundreds more making the most of foiling Lasers in the coming years.