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Could the new F101 be the People's Foiler?

Could the new F101 be the People's Foiler?

A new foiling dinghy aimed at people who had previously abandoned hopes of joining the foiling generation has been launched by UK company Foiling World. 

The all-carbon F101 has a 16-foot central hull and two substantial outrigger floats to enable foiling newbies to get easily airborne and minimise the fear of painful capsizes or wipe-outs. 

The F101 is designed by Ron Price - a lecturer in naval architecture at Solent University in Southampton. It will be manufactured and marketed by Jerry Hill and Alan Hillman at Foiling World – the same duo who successfully market the international SB20 sportsboat.

Announced shortly before Christmas, the F101 is in the final stages of development. Final testing is happening in Mar Menor, Spain. Two more pre-production boats are now in build in the UK at White Formula. Both boats will be on display for the public launch of the F101 at the RYA Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace, London on March 4 - 5. 

Sail Racing Magazine sat down with Jerry Hill to find out more about the concept behind this innovative new boat. 

We began by asking Hill to explain exactly who the F101 was aimed at. 

“The idea is to take foiling to the people who thought they couldn’t do it – because they thought they would be the wrong weight, or simply not skilled or athletic enough," he said. 

“If you think of sailors as a pyramid, right at the top there are the top America’s Cup and Olympic sailors and other Moth experts. They are not really our target market. We are aiming at levels two, three, four and five below that.”

Hill and Hillman made this ethos clear in the initial design brief to Price but say they had to keep reminding the performance focused designer that ease of use was more important than top end performance. 

“Early on the design model indicated a top speed of around 32 knots. Our brief is for a boat that can be sailed comfortably at 15 – 18 knots, with top speeds in the mid 20’s."

The result they believe is a fast, fun and stable foiler for that will appeal to anyone who has previously been put off by the complexities of launching a Moth and the somethimes painful, exhausting and often disheartening learning curve that has to be gone through to learn how to foil.

This is not just speculation on their part. Hillman runs the highly respected Pro Vela foiling school in Mar Menor, Spain and knows precisely the things his pupils struggle with most about learning to foil.

“We felt there was a gap in the market for making foiling easy,” Hill explains. “Alan’s experience at Pro Vela has given us an invaluable insight into exactly what makes foiling difficult for people to master.”

“The biggest problems are launching and recovery and capsizing too much in the early stages so that you just end up exhausted. When we set about creating the design brief for the F101 we tried to address these problems straight away.” 

To make managing the boat ashore easy and to simplify launching, the F101 has retractable foils so the boat can be wheeled to the water and launched like a conventional dinghy. The mainsail is hoisted up a track on the mast and the gennaker is on a furler.

“You just pull up the mainsail and push the boat into the water,” Hill explained. “Once you climb aboard, you push the foil and the rudder down and lock them in place. Then you are ready to go foiling.”

Hill says the boat sails smoothly in low riding mode by heeling it to rest on the leeward float.

“Once you are ready to go foiling, you roll the boat on to the windward float so that the rig is canted over to windward and the foils are correctly aligned to help you lift off,” Hill explains. “Then it’s a matter of pulling in the sail, getting going and then you simply lift off.” 

A common problem people have previously encountered when they first get up on foils is not being able to sheet the sail on quickly enough as the boat accelerates and the apparent wind goes forward. This inevitably leads to a windward capsize.

“In the F101 if that happens you just land back on the windward float without wiping out and you can quickly just try again,” Hill says.

It’s hard not to think of the floats as training wheels for foiling beginners. Hill is not opposed to that analogy. Although the F101 has not been designed to compete with the super-fast Moth fleet, Hill says they have been careful not to detune the boat any more than necessary. Nor should the F101 be thought of as a training boat for aspiring Moth sailors. 

“We didn’t want to dumb it down too much and it’s still going to be a challenge and not a boat you quickly grow out of. For example, working out how to perform a foiling gybe with the gennaker up is going to take a bit of thinking about."

Foiling World plan to set up a series of F101 'raids' at classic venues around Europe like Mar Menor, Lake Garda and Palma, Mallorca.

“We see the F101 as a leisure boat that people take places for the fun of going sailing and getting away from some of the formality of championship sailing that we are all used to,” Hill says. “We are trying to do something a little different because we think there is a massive group of people who are looking for something new. There will be racing at F101 Raids but maybe it will be a mixture of slaloms, speed trials, windward leeward and longer distance sailing.” 

Although the F101 website shows the boat being sailed singlehanded Hill says it was designed to be able to take two. 

“We call the boat a one-plus-one,” he explained. “It’s designed to take up to 120 Kg (264 pounds). That said, we have had two people sailing it at around 150 Kg (330 pounds) between them and they were foiling around in 10 knots of breeze. The A-sail just gives you a load more oomph in low wind speeds to get the boat up and foiling. It also means you can go sailing with a friend, partner, son or daughter and the A-sail gives the other person plenty to keep them busy."

Hill says the response to the launch of the F101 website last November has been very positive with enquiries and even deposits coming in from more than 20 countries. 

"The reaction world-wide since going public has been incredible, so we are confident that the market potential is there. We have taken many deposits to book build slots and the 2017 production schedule is filling fast. We are also in discussion with many potential dealers from all around the world.”

Pricing is yet to be finalised but Hill said they aim to be under £15,000 (€17,000 $18,000). Production is expected to begin in the first half of 2017.

For more information on the F101 go to the website: http://www.foiling101.com

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