Monofoil Sailing
Monofoil Sailing
31/01/2007: Yachting World features Monofoil
For a full transcript of the "Leading Edge" article written by Matthew Sheahan see the Yachting World website or download a pdf copy here.
17/11/2006: SailTV Feature Monofoil
13/11/2006: IBI News - Monofoil to rewrite rules of high-speed sailing
A new high-speed "sailing concept" that involves both aerodynamic and hydrodynamic principles is set to take the sailing world by storm. After more than 10 years in development, the new Monofoil from Monofoil Sailing in the UK is due to be launched to the public in September 2007.
Designed by UK aero-engineer Jonathan Howes, the Monofoil has a fuselage that lifts out of the water during acceleration, causing the boat to fly across the surface of the water. A rigid wing structure provides the lift and drive, and the foil is the only thing that remains in contact with the water. The Monofoil, which begins to fly at speeds of around 46kt, will compete with catamarans, trimarans and monohulls and is set to challenge every short course ocean passage and race record.
"Setting new design parameters for sailing boats, Monofoil will be fitted with aerodynamic controls," says the company. "These will ensure the craft is inherently stable even at 100kt and, just as importantly, able to perform in water that is not absolutely flat. Even at fairly low speeds of around 50kt-70kt, Monofoil will still be 'flying', making it ideal for both short, fast runs and longer ocean passage records."
According to the company, initial testing of the Monofoil has produced exciting results and construction of the full-scale version is already well advanced. Together with a full-scale mock-up, the main wing has been built and all the moulds for the main composite components have been produced. The build schedule is expected to be completed in September 2007, with Monofoil set to make its first record attempt - the 500 meters outright speed record - in April 2008. For more information , visit the Monofoil website at www.monofoil.com.
This article was published on www.ibinews.com on 13 November 2006.
02/11/2006: Sailing Takes Flight
Imagine a sailing boat so revolutionary in concept that, when completed, it will change the course of sailing forever. A unique combination of aerodynamic and hydrodynamic principles, Monofoil is exactly that. The brainchild of Monofoil Sailing, a UK-based company, it is set to radicalize boat design and rewrite the rules of high-speed sailing.
It will create a spectacular image as it accelerates, causing the fuselage to lift out of the water and the boat to fly elegantly across the water's surface. This eye-catching vision will be reinforced by the boat's underside having a similar profile to that of a flying boat. A rigid wing structure will provide the lift and drive, whilst the foil, which is a design breakthrough, will be the only part of the boat that remains in contact with the water as Monofoil starts to fly at speeds of around 46 knots.
Setting new design parameters for sailing boats, Monofoil will be fitted with aerodynamic controls. These will ensure the craft is inherently stable even at 100 knots and, just as importantly, able to perform in water that is not absolutely flat. Even at fairly low speeds of around 50 to 70 knots, Monofoil will still be "flying", making it ideal for both short, fast runs and longer ocean passage records. Designed to accommodate a pilot and co-pilot, the boat's only limitations are likely to be down to their endurance and nerve.
Moreover, unlike many high-speed sailing boats, Monofoil has the ability to tack and gybe. This is essential to avoid long delays during testing, as a two-tack craft is able to achieve around ten times as many runs as a one-tack craft.
Initial testing of the Monofoil model has produced exciting results (see film clips here) and construction of the full-scale version is already well advanced. Together with a full-scale mock-up, the main wing has been built and all the moulds for the main composite components have been produced. It is anticipated that the build schedule will be completed in September 2007, with Monofoil set to make its first record attempt - the 500 meters outright speed record - in April 2008.
Destined to change people's perceptions of boat design and sailing forever, the Monofoil project is a truly remarkable adventure and a testament to the Monofoil team’s determination to set new boundaries.
ends
For further information, please contact Jonathan Howes at Monofoil Sailing, tel: +44 (0)7799 377194 or email jon.howes@monofoil.com
For media enquiries, please contact Jane Allardice, Jane Allardice Communications Ltd, tel: +44 (0)1444 882 275 or email info@jac-pr.com
Notes to Editors
1. Digital images of the full-scale mock-up are available on request.
2. Once Monofoil is completed, the following records will be attempted:
- 500 meters outright speed
- One nautical mile outright speed (the shortest, legitimate ocean record)
- Round the Isle of Wight (50 nautical miles)
- Cross-Channel from Cowes to Dinard (138 nautical miles)
- Fastnet Course (605 nautical miles)
- Round Ireland non-stop (708 nautical miles)
- 24-hour distance record
3. The Monofoil project has already attracted sponsorship from:
- Innova Systems, a Cambridge-based distributor for SolidWorks 3D mechanical design software
- EV Offshore, a world leader in ruggedised cameras who will be supplying cameras and recording equipment on board and
- High Modulus whose staff have offered to donate their time to help produce the composite laminate lay-up
4. As the most exciting challenge in today's sailing world, the Monfoil project is a unique opportunity for a title sponsor to have its brand linked to innovation, fun and success. To find out more about the benefits of sponsorship, call Monofoil Sailing on 0845 206 2070 or email info@monofoil.com
15/09/2006: New Website Unveiled
Welcome to our new website. We are still waiting on the final 3D CAD animation on Monofoil tacking and jibing. We are also close to completing our full size mock up. More pictures and details to follow shortly.
01/09/2006: Monofoil Sailing invited to World Speed Sailing Challenge
We have had an interesting series of discussions with Peter Bogner who is organising the World Speed Sailing Challenge in Mexico. We thought we had a good location, but he has certainly found an amazing site on the West coast of Mexico. He was contacting us to see if we would be able to attend in January. Sadly, we had to let him know that we would still be around 9 months away from completion. We will be following the results of this event with great interest and no small amount of envy.
02/08/2006: Ron Dennis joins Monofoil Sailing team
We have taken on a new member of staff, Ron Dennis. He has joined the Monofoil Sailing team to finalise the detailed design of the mechanical components and control mechanisms of the craft. He has worked as a principal engineer in the automotive industry for 15 years and in his free time works on improvements to high performance engines.
Ron Dennis
The Solidworks package has been a huge success. It is a really serious package and has already made the most phenomenal impact. I am quite certain that if it was suggested we returned to our original CAD package there would be a major rebellion. We have immediately seen improvements in the time taken to design components and the output from that work. Within the next few months we hope to be able to show a full 3d version on the website that you can download and view from any angle.
Thank you once again Innova Systems and Solidworks for your support.
22/07/2006: Monofoil Sailing chooses SolidWorks design software
Monofoil Sailing has chosen SolidWorks® 3D CAD and COSMOSWorks® software to design and build a Monofoil craft to challenge every speed sailing and short course ocean passage record
With this ambitious design project, the Monofoil Sailing team knew it had to look at changing its existing 3D software to achieve the completion date for initial testing in September 2007. The idea behind the craft is simple: The less boat touching the water, the less drag and the more speed. Once the craft hits cruising speed, the hull lifts up above the water about a foot, flying like a glider tethered to the ocean by a stress-resistant foil that extends from the boom.
"Our existing 3D software was proving to be unworkable, extremely difficult to use and was hindering our project timescales, so we researched other popular 3D Design systems in the marketplace." comments Project Manager Steve Grimes. "We decided on SolidWorks because of it exceptional ease of use, speed of learning and its powerful modelling capabilities. Following a five-day specific training course from Innova Systems, we have been pleasantly surprised how quickly we have learnt SolidWorks and how enjoyable the software is to use in a design environment. It puts the fun back into design."
Designing in SolidWorks enables the complete Monofoil to be fully defined in three dimensions, allowing the internal design of mechanisms and control devices for steering, throttle control and ride height. The visualisation brings the whole team together to contribute and develop a much-improved understanding of the overall structure.
The SolidWorks eDrawings® communication tool is used to cost-effectively share designs with suppliers and other team members who are away from the office. The Monofoil team has invested in four licenses of SolidWorks.
"We are thrilled that Monofoil Sailing have choosen SolidWorks from Innova Systems. We understand that companies like Monofoil Sailing need to concentrate on their design work and not their CAD system in order to achieve their record breaking sailing ambitions" comments Mark Bradford of Innova Systems. "SolidWorks continues to create intuitive, high-performing software designed to embrace difficult design challenges and let customers design products to beat world records."
01/07/2006: June/July Update
There has been steady progress over the last two months with the completion of the main wing. The main wing has taken substantially longer than we expected, but finally it is finished.
We are now in the process of building full size components of all of the parts, so that we can have a mock up version on which to practice installation and dismantling of parts, handling and control runs. Currently the crossboom, rotating strut and fuselage are all complete. The paws & whiskers will be finished and the mock up constructed by late September.
The ‘paws and whiskers’ was a nickname for the forward stabilisers that has stuck as it seemed the most appropriate description of this item. If you see a picture of Monofoil it refers to the structure that extends from the front of the main fuselage and out to either side of the hull. This structure is really important and has a number of functions, the most basic of which is stability while tacking the craft.
We shortly expect to announce that Innova Systems have agreed to sponsor us and that they will be supplying us with our Solidworks CAD package.
04/05/2006: April Update
We have made steady progress with the wing and will shortly be able to release photographs of the finished article as well as some film footage showing the structural layout.
We also recently received an email that we felt raised a very valid technical point. As a result we have included it below as well as Jon's response. Where possible we do respond to email's although we are not in the business of explaining basic first principles!
EMAIL FROM PM

I have been following your project for some time with interest. It certainly makes the point about it's size when it is compared with the London Bus. I do however, have some doubts about the wisdom of embarking on such a large prototype without doing development work on smaller models and gradually working your way up to the present size.
Yes, I know you made a model, (I saw it), it was tiny compared with your projected machine. Your confidence is amazing, and I hope it won't be misplaced, but I fear you may find with your big machine many unexpected problems that should have been ironed out at a previous less ambitious development stage.
You have only to look at the debacle of Team Philips as an example of how over-ambitious projects can end up. Think of the Wright brothers, with the development of flying, Igor Sikorsky and Arthur Young, with the development of the helicopter or even Whittle with the development of the jet engine. These people just didn't have an idea and go out and build a plane, a helicopter or a jet, what they achieved was the result of years of development, which slowly came good until they achieved success.
I'm afraid that with your over-reliance on cfd and imagining you know all the answers you could end up getting nowhere.
RESPONSE BY JON HOWES

Thank you for your Email. Interestingly we agree with almost all your points.
If you saw one of my models this would have been mk1 or mk2 as shown at Weymouth in 1997 (development started in 1996). Mk1 was indeed tiny to the point where testing was extremely difficult due to the water surface wind gradient. The models grew steadily from that point onwards.
I finally developed a family of six models of varying sizes, all of which were designed and analysed via the same mathematical model which was further developed and tuned in the light of test results. The math model was not CFD in the currently understood sense, rather it uses well known aeronautical methods such as Weissenger for wing load distributions, very basic vortex lattice for drag and tail downwash calcs and the usual force/moment balances for equilibrium, stability and control.
The full sized design only went ahead when I reached a level of confidence in the validated design methods that allowed me to get the last model sailing with minimum "sorting" - note all the models tried new techniques or modifications as these help to define the actual limits of the theoretical model and where it differs from reality.
There will undoubtedly be some unpredicted problems in full scale, the greatest single concern being the control forces at full speed. Modeling shows these to be manageable in magnitude but as the sign of the control forces can be changed by poor trimming this has inevitable issues for human control.
The only bit of fully conventional CFD used in development was a bit of software that I developed to design the ventilated foil section. This was a challenge as the problem was very difficult to stabilise numerically (very sensitive to grid definition). The result was used on the last model with absolute success and verified with a simpler vortex panel method so I am now fairly confident of this aspect.
07/03/2006: March Update
January and February have passed quickly as we have continued work on the wing. There have been a number of minor design changes that have made progress slower than we would have liked, however completion is now in sight.
We have recently realized that it is difficult to get the size of the craft and our project across. In order to help convey this we have included a picture showing Monofoil standing next to a London Bus. It is slightly daunting to look at!
Their has been little or no news from the competition. Macquarie Innovation were due to return to the water within a month or two of their wing failure, but have not yet been seen. Neither Finian Maynard or Bjorn Dunkerbeck have had any suitable opportunities. There were excellent wind conditions at the French Trench in January, but no one available to take advantage of them. The Trench suffered some minor damage, but it is reported that it will be up and running any day now. Sailrocket, Windjet and the Paravane Speedsailer have all had a slow winter.
March Update
07/03/2006: New Arrivals
In November we took on Steve Grimes as a full time project manager to coordinate the design, build and test activities of the project. Steve worked in the aerospace industry as an electronics engineer for many years and also had experience with several innovative startup companies. Recently he worked as a project manager with a well respected design consultancy in Cambridgeshire, working mainly in the defence sector. He has made a fantastic difference to the project already both on a professional and personal level.
We have also just taken on Sebastien Joly who is now the team cameraman as well as one of the boat building team. Seb is a professional cameraman, with a passion for sailing boats. He originally trained as a boat builder before becoming a photographer and finally a cameraman. He will be recording the more interesting parts of the build and testing of Monofoil. This is particularly useful as there is likely to be only the odd bit of filming required each week and it means that we can capture this without having someone make a special visit.
05/01/2006: Kite World Speed Record Smashed
Although it was not an official ratified run, David Trewern recorded a 500m average speed of 44.81 knots with a peak speed of 48.6 knots.
This was carried out at Sandy Point where Macquarie Innovation are also based. It is 3 knots faster than the previous best record and shows that the kite surfers are catching up fast! Click here for more details
On a separate note we understand that Macquarie Innovation will be back on the water within the next month having fixed their wing.
24/12/2005: Happy Christmas from the Monofoil Sailing team
Just to say thank you to everyone who has helped us in 2005. We hope 2006 will be another successful year for Monofoil.
18/12/2005: More Wing Photos
This photograph shows the jig to hold the lower skin of the wing. It is about 18 square metres in total.
More Wing Photos
13/12/2005: Macquarie Speed Sailing Team Wing Failure
In what can only be described as a disappointing end to their 2005 World Record campaign, the Macquarie Speed Sailing Team announced today that as a result of significant damage to their main wing, a premature halt to their attempt on the 50 knot speed target has been effected.
Encouraging speeds were recorded in the lead up to Saturday's first real opportunity at the 50 knot mark and expectations were high. Prior to this, Macquarie Innovation had reached top speeds in excess of 45 knots in less than ideal conditions and the team had been waiting patiently for nearly two months for the opportunity to show the world the awesome potential of their craft.
And on Saturday 10 December, it looked as though finally they would get their chance. In 22 knots of wind, Macquarie Innovation accelerated from a standing start to be at 45.9 kts as it entered the 500m course. Expectations escalated rapidly, as those that were witnessing the run from the beach, knew that top speeds were not encountered until 3/4 of the way down the course. Unfortunately, the potential was never realised as a rare structural failure in the wing occurred less than 30m into the course. This fact was even more surprising considering that the team have been developing and building solid wing sails since the mid 1980's and this is the first structural wing failure of this nature to have occurred in 20 years.
The co-pilot of Macquarie Innovation, Tim Daddo, reports that "...while the damage looks spectacular, it was actually quite a "low-tech" item that failed and repair should not be too difficult. We're looking forward to rebuilding and being able to deliver a slice of world history to Australian shores soon."
Needless to say, the team are very disappointed as all could see that "world history", was less than 20 seconds away. Nevertheless, it is this fact that has inspired them to rebuild and return to complete what they refer to as "unfinished business".
Tim Daddo
Macquarie Speed Sailing Team

See film of the Failure (7 Mb) - click here or an amazing photograph - click here
12/11/2005: Wing Spar Pictures
You can clearly see the multiple laminations required along the Spar. The section gets thicker as you near the root where the loads are at their highest. This wing is designed to take a peak load of aroung 3.5 tons. Yes that is the correct figure and it is over 10 times the weight of the craft.
Wing Spar Pictures
22/10/2005: Wing Spar Construction
The Wing Spar is the main structural element of the Wing. The majority of the loads are transmitted through this piece and it has to be really carefully built.
Wing Spar Construction
06/09/2005: Cutting the Spruce for the Wing Spar
This log had to be cut accurately into 5mm slices!
Cutting the Spruce for the Wing Spar
05/09/2005: Popular Science Article on "The Race to 50 Knots"
Popular Science have written a summary of the different teams in the race for 50 knots. They very kindly give us a 50/50 chance of breaking the record.
03/09/2005: Wing Construction Started
We are building the wing out of wood. This is because we believe that it is the best material for this job and we have the expertise to do so. Wooden wings are one of Jon's Howes professional areas of expertise and its performance in most areas will beat any composite structure unless it is made from the more exotic carbon fibres (In reality wood is an extremely lightweight form of carbon fibre).
The other advantage of building from wood is that we do not want to make a mould for the wing. We are likely to build at least two wings and a wooden construction avoids this need. The initial wing is a bit of a beast and will be our general purpose wing. It should be quite capable of getting the record, but has too much induced drag at higher speeds.
To start the construction we had to find a suitable piece of aircraft grade timber. This means that you must have a certain grain size, moist content and tensile strength. You cannot have any knots or other faults in the wood. Luckily we were able to purchase a 38ft log off of Jeremy at Freeland Yacht Spars. Cutting this log into 5mm strips has been an extremely interesting exercise.
01/07/2005: Paws and Whiskers Moulds Completed
The Paws and Whiskers is the structure that sticks out in front of the main fuselage. For some reason they have ended up being called the Paws and Whiskers and this name has stuck. This is a tricky component to build as there is a large aerodynamic surface, and while it is not used to generate lift it is imperative that we know how it behaves. This means particular care has to be taken when aligning the whiskers to make sure that they are totally symmetric to each other.
The overall structure needs to be strong as the paws must be able to take wave impacts at high speeds.
15/11/2004: Yellow Pages World Record Falls!
Pending WSSRC ratification, the vaunted 11-year record of YP has been broken by the windsurfer Finian Maynard (BVI) with a time of 46.82 knots. The Dutch national record has been broken by Ben van der Steen with an unofficial time of 43.5 knots. Dave White has broken the British national record with an unofficial time of 43 knots.
Details of this can be found here.
22/10/2004: Macquarie Innovation are back in the Race!
After an absence of over a year it seemed possible that the Macquarie Innovation challenge had run out of steam. In fact the Macquarie team, who hold the current record with Yellow Pages Endeavour, are now back at Sandy Point Australia preparing to challenge their existing record.
Although it was not over a full course, they have already clocked 44 knots. This leaves them as the fastest (non-windsurfing) sail craft in the world at present and within obvious striking distance of their own record.
They will be running during Sandy Point Speedweek 23-30 October and details of this can be found here.
Macquarie Innovation are back in the Race!
30/09/2004: The Monofoil Sailing team goes to Weymouth Speedweek
No the craft is not ready yet, but we are aiming to spend a few days at Weymouth Speedweek. The main reasons are to observe how Windjet and Sailrocket manage their craft and to see what lessons can be learned from their experiences so far. This could be particularly interesting as big winds are forecast for the first few days.
28/09/2004: High Modulus Sponsor Monofoil
We are very pleased to announce that High Modulus have agreed to become a sponsor of Monofoil. They will be carrying out the laminate and lay-up analysis of the composite structure for the whole craft.
High Modulus is the leading marine composite engineering consultancy. High Modulus was established with the aim of transferring high technology composites developed for the aerospace and defence industries to commercial marine markets. From its beginnings in New Zealand in 1979 the company has grown to a staff of more than forty, with offices in Auckland, Hamble (UK) and France. One of their latest projects has been another record breaker in the form of Mirabella V - the world’s largest sloop.
High Modulus Sponsor Monofoil
13/06/2004: Additional Cross Boom Mould Photo
Additional Cross Boom Mould Photo
13/06/2004: Cross Boom Moulds Completed
You can see pictures of the completed crossboom moulds. They are each 10 meters long.
Paul Larsen and his team have also made great progress in finishing Sailrocket. They are at present looking for a key sponsor before pushing ahead with trials down at Weymouth. We wish them the very best luck as they have shown remarkable determination and commitment to get to this point. They also have a very credible craft to have a crack at the 50 knot barrier.
The cross boom mould and rotating strut mould have both been completed and set up within the workshop.
Cross Boom Moulds Completed
06/04/2004: New Monofoil Fuselage
The first monofoil test fuselage has been assembled. This is identical to the final fuselage, but we need it to establish exactly where all of the control runs will go, the drivers position and the size and position of the windows. This last is probably the most important because the driver must be able to exit in an emergency from either side of the fuselage with minimal difficulty.
New Monofoil Fuselage
02/03/2004: Monofoil Main Fuselage Moulds Completed
The monofoil main fuselage moulds have now been completed and are ready to be used to produce the fuselage mock-up. This mock-up will be used to develop the interior layout. This will include pilot's seat, crash frame, control line runs, window sizing as well as the testing of both entry and emergency exit routines.
Monofoil Main Fuselage Moulds Completed
News Archive
31/01/2007: Yachting World features Monofoil
17/11/2006: SailTV Feature Monofoil
13/11/2006: IBI News - Monofoil to rewrite rules of high-speed sailing
02/11/2006: Sailing Takes Flight
15/09/2006: New Website Unveiled
01/09/2006: Monofoil Sailing invited to World Speed Sailing Challenge
02/08/2006: Ron Dennis joins Monofoil Sailing team
22/07/2006: Monofoil Sailing chooses SolidWorks design software
01/07/2006: June/July Update
04/05/2006: April Update
07/03/2006: March Update
07/03/2006: New Arrivals
05/01/2006: Kite World Speed Record Smashed
24/12/2005: Happy Christmas from the Monofoil Sailing team
18/12/2005: More Wing Photos
13/12/2005: Macquarie Speed Sailing Team Wing Failure
12/11/2005: Wing Spar Pictures
22/10/2005: Wing Spar Construction
06/09/2005: Cutting the Spruce for the Wing Spar
05/09/2005: Popular Science Article on "The Race to 50 Knots"
03/09/2005: Wing Construction Started
01/07/2005: Paws and Whiskers Moulds Completed
15/11/2004: Yellow Pages World Record Falls!
22/10/2004: Macquarie Innovation are back in the Race!
30/09/2004: The Monofoil Sailing team goes to Weymouth Speedweek
28/09/2004: High Modulus Sponsor Monofoil
13/06/2004: Additional Cross Boom Mould Photo
13/06/2004: Cross Boom Moulds Completed
06/04/2004: New Monofoil Fuselage
02/03/2004: Monofoil Main Fuselage Moulds Completed

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