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Inside Angle: Foiled Again


What’s new is actually quite old. Bill Prince dives into the ups and downs of hydrofoils.

We’re discussing a term in our design office today: Mustache foils. Pardon? Among the newly expanding genre of foiling powerboats, they’re hydrofoils attached to the lower units of outboard motors, shaped like Snidely Whiplash’s melodramatic handlebar mustache from the old Dudley Do-Right cartoons. Foiling powerboats, you say? Hah, hah, hah, HAAH!

Foiling boats run suspended out of the water atop hydrofoils. Hydrofoils (mustachioed and otherwise) are wings that attach to a boat’s hull, generating some drag but also lots of lift-. This lift raises the boat’s hull entirely out of the water at speed, eliminating the substantial drag caused by the hull’s wetted surface area.

Foiling powerboats are not new. Far from it. In 1905, a half-century before Whiplash began his animated antagonism of Dudley Do-Right, Italian aeronautical innovator Enrico Forlanini built the first self-propelled foiling boat. Forlanini devised a 100-hp vessel capable of over 30 knots. No word if he had a mustache, but he did this before the world had discovered stainless steel, plastic, FM radio and the ball screw, for crying out loud. The only…

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