Seair has developed a foil system that can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button using electric power
A French company has developed what they are claiming are the world’s first foiling RIB – RIBs that are fitted with hydrofoils that allow the hull to lift and ride with the hull clear of the water with a consequent reduction in resistance. Figures released by Seair, the builders of the foiling RIB, show a one third saving in fuel for the same speed when a 5.5 metre RIB is riding on the foils compared with a normal RIB of the same size.
Seair has developed a foil system for this RIB that can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button using electric power. The foils emerge from the hull at an angle so that when they are retracted they fit snugly around the hull and tube, allowing the RIB to act as a normal craft. This means that there are no restrictions when coming alongside or when beaching the boat.
The two main foils that generate most of the lift are fitted under the console of the boat and there is a balancing foil at the stern. Because of the varying draft a long shaft outboard is used for propulsion but otherwise the boat is like a conventional RIB. For a 5.5 metre RIB the cruising speed is around 25 knots using an outboard of 115 hp. For the larger 7.65 metre RIB an engine up to 250 hp can be used. Seair promote these craft as yacht tenders or as a small sports boat.
A larger experimental version has been developed by Group Beneteau as a tourist boat and there are also para-military versions. Seair is also offering the basic foil system to other RIB builders so that they can offer foil versions.
The foils are constructed from a carbonfibre laminate using what Seair claims to be a unique automated layout system that is based on 3D printing techniques to produce the high quality mouldings for the foils.