Photo: Christopher Ison / Alamy

Although foiling feels like a recent revolution to take the sport of sailing by storm, it is actually much older than many of us appreciate.

In terms of motorised waterborne craft, the first foiler was a motorboat designed and built by Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini in 1906.

It did, however, take quite a bit of time before foilers with sails took to the water, but even then many people might be surprised to learn that even in the 1970’s the foiling trimaran, Williwaw, covered over 20,000 sea miles in and around the South Pacific.

It was not until the early-2000s that foiling really started to take hold as a  development dinghy class, the International Moth, lead the way. With huge amounts of interest in the 11ft boats, foiling began to spread throughout the sport.

Over time, some classes converted to foiling – the A-Class and C-Class catamarans being examples. But more new boats were also designed specifically with foiling in mind.

In 2013 Emirates Team New Zealand built their 72ft America’s Cup catamaran to be a foiler, forcing their competition for the Cup, Oracle Team USA to convert their AC72 into a foiler to stay competitive – ultimately Oracle Team USA won the event in a fascinating comeback.

To date the America’s Cup has not looked back with the competition taking place in smaller AC50 catamarans in 2017 and the newly conceived monohull foilers, the AC75s, in 2021.

Meanwhile foiling windsurfers and foiling kiteboards have blossomed, the Olympics is die to see its first ever foiling boat in the Nacra 17, foiling 90ft multihulls are competing to be the fastest to race around the globe and design houses across the globe are racing to create foiling yachts for the masses which could dramatically reduce cruising times from one destination to the other.

 

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