Emerging Technologies

Hydrofoil promotion sees powerful take-off at the first World Foiling Congress

Hans Buitelaar
Sunday, 26 May 2024

The establishment of an Academic Research Centre, the introduction of foiling public transport in Genoa, and a B2B event to further promote hydrofoils in public transport were announced at the first World Foiling Congress. The Foiling Organisation has a strong momentum. Celebrating theFoiling Award Ceremony contributed to the high spirits at the Genoa congress last month.

“We want to be the epicentre of the foiling renaissance, helping the widespread use of a very powerful technology that can add speed, comfort and range while reducing emissions,” said Founder Luca Rizzotti of The Foiling Organisation as he expressed his ambition. Steps to make this come true are being taken at high pace.

The inaugural World Foiling Congress was held on April 18 in Genoa, Italy, together with the prize giving ceremony of the Foiling Awards. Designers and developers of foiling craft, sailing or motorised, sailors, event organisers and accelerators of this new sector in the marine industry gathered to share their insights into the art of flying low above the water.

The Forlanini Award: Recognizing Excellence in Hydrofoil Innovation and Promotion

Heralding the people and companies that are actively using and producing hydrofoils in an award ceremony is a good way to draw attention to the phenomenon.

At the Foiling Awards prize-giving ceremony, the overall award for the promotion of hydrofoiling was granted to the WASZP Class Organisation. The foiling sailboat is produced at a lower price than comparable boats and offers a convenient entry point for both male and female sailors to discover sailing on hydrofoils as a challenging sport.

By organising events and being visible on the water, the WASZP Class Organisation is successfully promoting this new branch in the sport of sailing to a wider audience. The award was named after Italian scientist Enrico Forlanini, who was one of the pioneers in designing and testing hydrofoils on Lago Maggiore in 1906.

Business Developments Announced at the First World Foiling Congress

At the first World Foiling Congress, the next steps were announced that the Foiling Organisation will take to further stimulate the adoption of hydrofoils in the professional and leisure marine sectors. 

Firstly, Luca Rizzotti told the audience that he is preparing for a Foiling Expo in 2025. This is to be a B2B show, focusing on public transport rather than leisure boats. As a prelude to that, an agreement was disclosed with the municipality of Genoa that public transport over water is to be realised, flying on foils between waterside stops.

Science and Innovation in Hydrofoil Technology

Prestigious events like the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay, introducing the thrill of low-flying and very fast sailing machines to a worldwide audience have been a very significant accelerator for foiling.

The teams that develop the racing vessels in such events, are backed by high-level scientists and designers who strive to create the most efficient hydrofoils and configuration of boat hull, sails and said foils.

For amateur sports, this configuration is better kept less radical, as a leisure sailor will not be on the water with a dedicated professional team to control the boat. For motor yachts and public transport vessels, hydrofoil control should focus on a comfortable ride primarily.

The achievements of the professionals in sailing on the forefront of hydrofoil design need to be analysed and adapted for application in other vessels, together with the experience of all the foiling boats that have been sailing over more than one hundred years already.

Rizzotti announced the establishment of an open source  Academic Research Centre, in which universities, maritime knowledge centers and design teams will take part in further developing the science of hydrofoils. "Joining The Foiling Organization means becoming part of a flywheel of technological, regulatory and promotional exchange. A wealth of information that developers of foiling vessels couldn’t afford to miss.

Establishing standards: the role of the Foiling Organization in industry-wide adoption

"The relevance of an organisation like the Foiling Organization, even in an industry that is already adopting hydrofoil technology, can be significant for several reasons,” Rizzotti explains. “While the industry might be embracing foiling, the rate of adoption can vary significantly across different sectors and regions. An organisation dedicated to promoting hydrofoils accelerates this process through focused initiatives and resources.

As hydrofoil technology becomes more widespread, there's a need for standardized safety practices, design norms, and operational protocols. TFO can play a crucial role in developing these standards and ensuring that they are adopted industry-wide. At the end of the day the exceptional rate of development of foiling technology requires careful strategy on making sure the adoption rate is consistent with the investments.

Promotion of the use of hydrofoils on pleasure boats and commercial craft  is to be achieved through a variety of strategies. These include:

  1. Education and Training: Courses, workshops, and seminars to educate boat owners and manufacturers about the benefits of hydrofoils, including increased speed, efficiency, and reduced fuel consumption.
  2. Research and Development: Supporting and funding research initiatives that focus on advancing hydrofoil technology and its applications in both pleasure boats and commercial vessels.
  3. Events and Competitions: Organizing or sponsoring foiling events, races, and demonstrations that showcase the capabilities and advantages of hydrofoil technology can help increase visibility and interest.
  4. Partnerships: Collaborating with boat manufacturers, marine engineers, and universities to foster innovation and integrate hydrofoil technology into mainstream boat designs.
  5. Policy Advocacy: Working with regulatory bodies to ensure that waterways are accessible for hydrofoil-equipped vessels and advocating for policies that support the adoption of green technologies in the maritime industry.
  6. Public Awareness Campaigns: Running marketing and information campaigns to highlight the environmental and economic benefits of using hydrofoils on watercraft.

The Foiling Organization’s founder consistently underlines: moving over water on hydrofoils is not only a spectacular phenomenon for sailing sports – it is a modern and fast mode of transport that saves a lot on propulsion power for boats and is therefore an important contribution to the development of more sustainable transport, reducing emissions significantly for waterborne public transport vessels and for leisure motor boats.

Thanks to the reduced drag when foiling, electrification of vessels is much more economic, because less battery capacity is needed to achieve a good range at satisfying speeds without the exponential increase of propulsion power and battery capacity that usually comes with high speed and long range.