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FLY - the foiler for the foiling generation

by Dan Leech 30 Mar 2020 01:09 PDT
The FLY sitting in the pool © Dan Leech

The idea behind the FLY was to create a simple kids foiler that can be used as the very starting point for a pathway down the foiling track. A lot of kids these days just simply want to go fast!

I have two boys, Will - 11 years old and weighs 29kg, and Jonty 9 years and weighs 25 kg. They both desperately wanted to start foiling, and to be doing what their idols are doing in the Americas Cup and Sail GP. So that’s when Will and I started designing the FLY.

Will, who is right into his Optimist sailing also wants to learn the skills of foiling and go down that path in his sailing career. The skills he will learn from the FLY, I am sure will help his optimist sailing with fast decision making and boat handling etc.

Jonty, just simply has the need for speed and loves to send it, whether it is on his motor cross bike or mountain bike. So, the FLY is going to be ideal for him. Kids these days do so much sailing and their skill level is very high at a young age, so my thoughts are they should have no problem mastering a boat like this.

We decided to build the prototype out of 4mm Gaboon plywood for speed of build and low cost. We built it using the same method as my OK Dinghy designs, using a CNC cut female jig and then the plywood hull panels get pushed into this. Then the bulkheads and centre case got fitted and the deck and foredeck went on. The foils have an aluminium vertical with composite horizontals. The wings are aluminium. The mast is a carbon two-piece, free standing mast from C-Tech. The boom is aluminium with a conventional vang system. Doyle’s have designed and are making the sail. C-Tech and Doyle’s worked closely together designing the rig. All boats will be fitted Ronstan deck hardware.

The idea is to keep everything as simple as possible for kids. There will be no rudder rake control, we will come up with the setting on the prototype and then that will be it. The ride height will be relatively low and can be pre-set on shore. The only controls that the sailors need to play with on the water is vang, downhaul and outhaul.

The tramps will have generous buoyancy bags so kids can sit on the wing and they won’t immerse. The plan is to test the prototype and make any required changes and then come up with a final production boat design and then build female moulds. The production boats will be built using e glass with a foam core to keep the costs as low as possible.

The boat is small, with a length overall of 2.4m, which is about 100mm longer than a P Class and optimist. Sail area is 4.2 m2. Target crew weight is 25 – 55 kg. It is early stages yet, but we are in discussions with the RNZYS about the possibility of a FLY regatta around the time of the America's Cup if we can get enough FLY’s on the water. This will be to promote kids foiling and the FLY. We are still working on the price, but we realise for it to be a success, we need to keep the price as low as possible.

The prototype is almost complete and we will be launching soon after the NZ lockdown is finished. We would like to get a gauge on interest. If interested email See Leechboats' Facebook page for updates

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