We head to France to test the SEAir flying RIB see how this ambitious start-up plans to take foils to the masses
Within the boating fraternity, foiling is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment.
Be it the spectacular AC45s raced in the last America’s Cup or recent confirmation that Princess will be pioneering the use of a new high tech Active Foiling System on its forthcoming R Class superboat.
Yet even in the realm of powerboats, hydrofoils are nothing new. Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini began work on them in 1896 and when Alexander Graham Bell and his chief engineer Casey Baldwin first tested Forlanini’s hydrofoil over Lake Maggiore, Baldwin is said to have described it as being “as smooth as flying.”
What is it about the SEAir RIB, then, that moves the game on and demands closer attention? The company’s mission is to bring foiling to the masses and dispel the notion that it is a dangerous way to travel, only to be attempted by professionals and race-hardened sailors.
SEAir is based in the hotbed of sailing innovation that is Lorient, Brittany, and was founded 18 months ago by Richard Forest, Bertrand Castelnérac and Benoit Lequin.
As CEO, Forest is an engineering enthusiast responsible for bringing in investment whereas Castelnérac and Lequin are sailors through and through.
Lequin, who is in charge of engineering, holds the record for crossing the South and North Atlantic in an open catamaran and it was Castelnérac who, while watching the support RIB struggling to keep up with the foiling racing yacht, had the light bulb moment.
Read the full story in the May 2018 issue of Motor Boat & Yachting.