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Foil Fascination

Foils are one common link between sailboats and race cars. Over the past 20 years Windrush has been involved in designing and manufacturing both.

My brother Brett and I have both been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on some pretty exotic sailboats and race cars wearing high performance foils that are the key to their extreme performance.

Seen here is the hydrofoil borne sailboat “Spitfire” that was constructed by Brett and his staff at Windrush in Australia during 2001. The designed was executed by BDG for a Queensland client, this boat developed concepts and experience first deployed when Brett sailed his hydrofoil Moth to two race victories in the 2000 Moth World Championships series.


“Spitfire” is a 40′ (12 m.) Catamaran, built almost entirely of carbon fibre, at the time this vessel was groundbreaking for it’s engineering and manufacturing processes and standards. The boat was controlled by an aircraft style gimbal and joystick and at the time of launching, very few sailors had any experience “flying” foil borne sailboats. Brett and a couple of other Moth sailors with foil experience conducted the sea trials with Spitfire and with very little testing this boat eclipsed local record speeds for all sail-craft other than a sailboard. Current World 500m Speed Records are now in excess of 50 knots.

In contrast, but not so far removed, I was involved in the group at Allard who designed the 1992 Allard J2X, an FIA Gp.C Sports Prototype. This race car uses massive foils and other discreet aerodynamics to develop downforces exceeding 3 times it’s own weight. The Allard J2X was also manufactured almost entirely of carbon fibre, it embodied ground breaking design features and explored new engineering standards. The visual cues for the aerodynamics on just about any 2010 Sports Prototype can be traced to design elements first revealed on the Allard J2X. More info available on Mike Fuller’s Mulsanne Corner  site.


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