In 1996, Jon Howes was approached for advice on challenging the current world speed-sailing record. His background as a top aeronautical engineer, radical inventor and keen sailor made him the perfect choice.
The initial concept for Monofoil was based around a kite driven sailboard system. The principle problem however, with this system is the kite controlability at higher speeds. The solution was to replace the kite control lines with a streamlined rigid member and to use aerodynamic controls on a rigid "kite" or wing. A scale prototype of this configuration was carefully constructed and tested.
The initial results were promising but revealed further areas to be improved. Half a dozen or so model iterations, and a lot of fun and frustration in freezing beach lagoons, later the final model was captured on camera "flying" across the water (see image below and videos).
In 2001 Jon teamed up with Cambridge businessman and boat builder James Macnaghten and Monofoil Sailing was formed. Since then the overall conceptual design has been completed as well as the structural component envelopes. A small team have carefully constructed all composite moulds for the craft and are currently creating the main carbon-fibre boat components.
More recently the potential of the craft has become increasingly apparent. A boat with the capability to travel comfortably at 50 knots in relatively light winds and the ability to tack and gybe has the potential to challenge just about every existing sailing record. This launches Monofoil from its humble speed-sailing roots into the new exciting and highly competitive world of ocean yacht racing.
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