Foils for the Masses - A look at the Glide Free Foiling Kit
by David Schmidt on 23 Aug 2014
It’s virtually impossible to look at imagery from the high-flying 34th America’s Cup and not have a serious 'I wish!' conversation with your mates.
While the foil-bound AC72 class of wingsail-powered catamarans look truly outrageous, sadly, these rarefied America’s Cup class yachts cost tens of millions of dollars to design, build and maintain, and represent the absolute pinnacle of experts-only sailing hardware. Even the tiny Moth class, which also uses hydrofoils to fly, comes bundled with a hefty investment requirement (although here the 'cost-per-knot' is considerably lower than that of an AC72!), not to mention the need for world-class sailing skills and an acute sense of balance.
But before you go hunting online for a used AC72 (and good luck with that project, mate!), spend some time familiarizing yourself with the Glide Free Foiling Kit from Glide Free Design, which is designed to be retrofitted onto an old Laser, and which can be acquired for a fraction of the cost of a new Moth…let alone an AC72.
The Glide Free Foiling Kit doesn’t require any permanent changes (read: holes, bolts, or other fixed hardware or attachments) to the Laser, meaning that your boat is still class-legal, provided, of course, that you remove the foiling kit prior to your next regatta. Simply remove the toggle pin on the centerboard-truck insert, remove the centerboard assembly, unclip the rudder from its pintles, and you’re off to the One Design races as a legitimate Laser sailor. Easy!
For globetrotting sailors, the Glide Free Foiling Kit includes rudder and centerboard foils, as well as dedicated padded carrying cases, allowing you to easily travel with your foiling kit. This is especially interesting for sailors who are chartering Lasers for overseas regattas, or for sailors who are vacationing at spots where an old Laser can be rented for an afternoon of casual sailing. Simply clip-on the Glide Free Foiling Kit, add a bit of wind and water (ideally of the salty, sun-drenched Caribbean variety), and you will be wowing the locals and establishing 'dinghy-park cred' in no time!
Given that the Protocol for the 35th America’s Cup calls for foil-borne, 62-foot catamarans, and given the Moth class’s recent surge in popularity—not to mention the available foil packages for multihulls—it’s obvious that foil-borne sailing is the path forward for the serious Grand Prix crowd. For the rest of us, there’s no more cost-effective way to quickly gain foiling experience than with the Glide Free Foiling Kit.
Check out their website (www.glidefree.com.au), and then start scouring the Internet (or your yacht club’s 'For Sale' board) for a used Laser. Odds are beyond excellent that it will be a far easier find—and a considerably less painful financial outlay—than any other foiler afloat.
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