“Everything happens faster” if you are fortunate – or thrill seeking – enough to man a three person crew on-board sailings latest invention, the SuperFoiler.
Next weekend, these mighty beasts will be racing in Busselton as part of the world’s first SuperFoiler Grand Prix which takes place in five Australian locations.
Mastermind behind the creation is West Australian Bill Macartney who said SuperFoilers were the “ultimate” in the new world of flying sailing and could reach speeds up to 80 kilometres per hour.
“For a wind powered machine that is awful quick,” he said.
He came up with the idea with his son Jack about four years ago, they created a brief to design a three man machine that was at the absolute technological cutting-edge, and could be broken down to fit in a container.
Mr Maccartney said over the last six years the world of sailing had struck a new dimension and found a way to make sail racing machines fly.
“By that I mean they found a way to put wings under the water - foils - the vessel rises up out of the water so all the drag disappears and fly along on the foils,” he said.
“They go a heck of a lot faster.”
A SuperFoiler is the next dimension in that concept working on the things which made it perform such as power-to-weight and drag.
“This has got the highest power-to-weight of any sailing racer anywhere in the world today and has the least amount of drag,” he said.
Mr Maccartney said in wind strengths between six and twelve knots a SuperFoiler would go up to three times as fast as the wind.
“That is unprecedented and it also means for the three crew members who hang out the side on trapezes, she is a very, very scary piece of work.
“They get up and go very fast, very quickly – and as we like to say about the machines – they are not for the fainthearted.”
To be a crew member on board one of these machines you need to be fairly experienced with only some of the best sailors in the world receiving a call to join the Grand Prix.
Mr Maccartney said they recruited the best America’s Cup sailors and others in the world, admitting at first they struggled to control them.
“Increasingly they are gaining control of them because they are learning how to use the electronics to control the pitch of the foils.
“Which is great cause they can really let them go and hit top speeds without the fear of things coming undone and people flying through the air.”
Mr Maccartney was also responsible for the 18 Foot Skiff Grand Prix and chose Busselton to be part of the first SuperFoiler Grand Prix because of its clear, pristine water.
“We used to race them at Rottnest Island and got this huge reaction from around the world about how beautiful the water was,” he said.
“I know from childhood that the waters of Geographe Bay are equally, stunningly, beautiful and with the prevailing wind coming from the South West we have perfectly flat conditions with plenty of breeze.
Really we could not think of a more appropriate venue to race them anywhere in the world.- Bill Maccartney
“Six of the most advanced and exciting wind powered racers in the world today will be roaring up and down a racetrack battling it out for world supremacy [in Geographe Bay].”
Compared to a windrush, Mr Maccartney said if you put them on a racetrack a SuperFoiler would be somewhere between two to three times faster.
“When the SuperFoiler is going hard on the breeze (as close as possible directly into the breeze) we have had them hitting speeds of 26 plus knots.
“A windrush’s top end speed off the breeze is probably 18 knots, then you start to get a feel for it.”
Mr Maccartney has been out once for a sail on a SuperFoiler and likened it to an out-of-body experience.
“I have spent a lot of time on boats and expected it to be a boat experience, it was more like a magic carpet ride.
“We were flying out of the water having risen up on the foils and came to the wake from a big ferry on Sydney Harbour.
“I waited for the bang crash and there was no bang crash at all we just flew straight over the top of it.”
SuperFoiler sailor Steve Thomas said sailing one of the machines was like an awakening and admitted that sometimes you felt like you were not fully in control.
“Everything happens faster,” he said.
The SuperFoiler Grand Prix takes place in Busselton from Friday, March 2 until Sunday, March 4 with six of the “most advanced and exciting wind powered racers” in the world.
To see the machines in action the best viewing areas will be along the Busselton Jetty or foreshore.
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