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The Flying Phantom: US$40k sailboat levitates two feet above the waves

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March 9, 2014

The Flying Phantom catamaran seems to levitate above the water as it hydrofoils.

The Flying Phantom catamaran seems to levitate above the water as it hydrofoils.

Image Gallery (30 images)

“It’s like removing the handbrake – suddenly everything gets smoother and faster in pure silence.” This gravity-defying US$40k catamaran rises completely out of the water at speed on a pair of hook-shaped hydrofoils. It looks like the work of David Copperfield, but it’s real, and it’s set to start a revolution in the sailing world.

Sailing types can now buy themselves a racing catamaran that breaks free from the drag and discomfort of the water. The Flying Phantom mimics the hydrofoiling action demonstrated by the 2013 America’s Cup field by rising up on two J-shaped wings at speed until both hulls are a good two feet out of the water.

Why? “The main speed limits of a catamaran are the length of the hull, the wetted surface, and the pitch poling as you push it too hard,” explains Phantom’s Nicolas Felix. “When you’re foiling and the hulls aren’t dragging in the water, you can get nearly limitless performance. On a regular boat, you’re always fighting to gain a tenth of a knot, fighting against the friction of the water and the pitching of the waves. When you take off, the drag just disappears and there’s pure silence. Every puff of wind is transformed directly into acceleration.”

The Flying Phantom can get up on its foils in wind as low as 7 knots sailing downwind or perpendicular to the breeze, or upwind if the wind speed is above 10 knots. Its current tested max speed has been 33 knots, but Felix believes that limit can still be pushed: "The next limit is the cavitation issues you get around 45-50 knots.”

Apart from the vast reduction in drag, another benefit of hydrofoiling is that once the boat is out of the waves, the ride gets a lot smoother. Sailors who have spend years being beaten around the hindquarters by choppy waves are reporting that the foiling experience feels as much like a magic carpet ride as it looks. Of course, if something goes wrong and the boat crashes back down into the water, there could be some pretty serious deceleration in effect that might negate any comfort advantage pretty quickly, to put it mildly.

The Flying Phantom rises out of the water at speed

Hydrofoiling is not new in the sailing world, "flying" boats have held the outright sailing speed records for more than a decade, and the current champ “Vestas Sailrocket II” smashed out a truly scary 65.45 knots back in 2012. But the Flying Phantom is the first product to bring the levitation experience to the commercial market – a “democratizing” of the foiling catamaran.

Phantom International (based in France) is planning to race the Flying Phantom at a number of events in 2014, and also looking into the possibility of developing a racing series specifically for small foiling cats like this one.

The Flying Phantom launched at the Paris Boat Show this year and is on sale now for €28,260 (just under US$40,000).

Product page: Phantom International

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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15 Comments

Has anyone made a sail board with a hydrofoil ? Love to see that.

Paul Adams
10th March, 2014 @ 02:05 am PDT

These guys will even put a hydrofoil on a moth - http://marine.bdg.com.au/index.html

Meijer
10th March, 2014 @ 07:35 am PDT

Isn't the Moth way ahead of the game here? "the Flying Phantom is the first product to bring the levitation experience to the commercial market" seems to be not true here... no?

someguy
10th March, 2014 @ 09:07 am PDT

"The Flying Phantom is the first product to bring the levitation experience to the commercial market."

I guess you are forgetting about the foiling Moth and the RS600ff?

Lloyd Southam-Sebire
10th March, 2014 @ 09:09 am PDT

That looks like too much work..

Ed
10th March, 2014 @ 10:21 am PDT

Go to wikipedia or youtube and search for "Hobie Trifoiler". It was a commercial boat, it went super fast, you were suspended above the water between the hulls and it was also expensive. Only the Flying Phantom is larger and hopefully can handle larger waves/chop.

So I don't see how "the Flying Phantom is the first product to bring the levitation experience to the commercial market" is a accurate statement.

telocity
10th March, 2014 @ 11:09 am PDT

Foils have been tried on most everything. For stability at these kinds of speeds, beam is desirable, which is why cats but not boards are good.

Surely there are more than two foils; at least three are needed to maintain "takeoff".

Jack Sprat
10th March, 2014 @ 11:10 am PDT

Sad

Did no one else follow last years America's cup? Now there were some serious hydrofoils Check it out to see what happens when a big cat cartwheels.

Hugh Rose
10th March, 2014 @ 11:26 am PDT

throw in some gyroscopic balancing devices , a motorized mast, and a whole bunch of algorithmics ( maybe a wingsail ), some solar panelling ot power the electronics, and finally the cavitation resistant foils engineering for the vestas sail rocket

http://www.sailrocket.com/node/288

and you eventually are going to get a remote unmanned sailing drone that can travel routinely across oceans at 60 knots----

the navy is probably already spending money on something of this sort, small as the flying phantom---small enough to be deployed from larger boats.

zevulon
10th March, 2014 @ 11:42 am PDT

The wind rider rave was a foiler that was available up until recently, so it is not the 1st, but it is very interesting, but over priced in my opinion

Max Houston
10th March, 2014 @ 02:20 pm PDT

“When you’re foiling and the hulls aren’t dragging in the water, you can get nearly limitless performance."

Spoken by someone who does not understand the meaning of the word "limitless" The performance may well be enhanced but there are severe limits even before you consider relativity. Words actually have meanings so choose them carefully!

Abhoth
10th March, 2014 @ 03:31 pm PDT

Hardly ground breaking technology. Last years Americas Cup was raced using these boats which have been developed a number of years ago.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrzcOEKiRiI&list=PL4jyS1DaVhX_4sSOARbcOObnqywOkRzYl

NigelK
10th March, 2014 @ 05:31 pm PDT

I agree with abhoth. We have tons of sales ads and bogus news reports that exaggerate and even lie about the facts to promote certain perspectives. It is damaging to this foil boat, the author's reputation and gizmag's to make such overblown false statements. The facts that the foils make the boat much faster and smoother are enough--no need to lie and say it has "limitless performance."

Al Mayberry
10th March, 2014 @ 06:05 pm PDT

Can someone clarify for me what takes care of the side force from the wind on the sail, that is usually countered by the keel?

Or course, "normal" sailboats don't work so well with the keel up.

The foils would need to generate both upwards and sidewards "lift" yes?

And in different directions depending on which side the wind was on?

sleat
11th March, 2014 @ 06:12 am PDT

I think what he is saying "...is the first product to bring the levitation experience to the commercial market – a “democratizing” of the foiling catamaran." Perhaps it is the complete design rather than aftermarket foils for the Moth.

Ditto to those slamming the use of "limitless"! Today's media seem to be drowning society with overused and misused adjectives almost to the point where communicating a story with real depths of meaning cannot be distinguished from a ho-hum story. In this case, however, Mr. Blain was, I believe, quoting the builder.

Bryan Haslett
14th March, 2014 @ 01:55 pm PDT
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