“The new UFO-Foiler is first and foremost a support accessible to all dinghy sailors, known as archimedians. (…) It only takes a few hours of learning to start flying the UFO-Foiler. (…) Only one desire: to start again as soon as possible because the UFO has everything to please, addiction guaranteed! “
A great test by Paul GURY
Thanks to Voile Magazine and Paul GURY, who devoted a beautiful four-page article in the September 2018 edition, with a dithyrambic title: simply flying! (To be found on newsstands)
Simply flying! Stealing, excuse us, “foiler” is fashionable! You just have to see the attraction of these new dinghies with a promising plan for the young generations, but not only to be convinced …
Made available by the SNT, the brand new UFO-Foiler is first and foremost a support accessible to any sailor practicing a dinghy called archimedian. Of course, it will require a few hours of handling and beautiful bowls are to be expected but nothing to do with the technique required by the Moth or the One Fly (which accompanies us during this test) for example. Recently imported into France, this small monobloc catamaran of a little over 3.23 m has everything to conquer the world of sailing clubs and schools.
Its secret: a reassuring initial stability allowed by its two hulls, a bearing surface under the rudder (the elevator) and the two T-shaped foils positioned in the centre of the catamaran to further increase the balance of the whole and guarantee smooth landings. This last arrangement, combined with an adjustable feeler in the verticality located in the middle of the two bows, allows the height of the foils to be adjusted according to the experience of the helmsman. A bit like the wheels of a child’s bike: more height means less stability and vice versa.
UFO Foiler offers a boom/spreader combination that allows optimum control of mast bending. One will take over by hand, by one end placed in front of the mast more or less tension in the diamond formed by this combination.
The spirit of windsurfing is not far away, neither is its simplicity. As for the three-section mast, it is made of carbon fibre and carbon glass to meet the rigidity and flexibility requirements for each segment. The same goes for the carbon-glass boom, which is also made of carbon-glass, always looking for solidity.
After positioning the mast thanks to its foot with notch in all. Easy, here we are ready for the launch. The fully battened Mylar mainsail is sent out via a classic luff tape. But this seems a little narrow for the passage of the sail from the third batten: we’ll have to go over it several times to reach our goal …
If you want to flatten the mainsail, you will use the well-multiplied cunningham hoist at the foot of the sail and a multi-piece system that acts as a border.
LAUNCHING FROM 8 WINDSTORMS Launching the flying boat is a formality: only 31.5 kg to move for this flat-bottomed double hull designed in Infusion vinylester reinforced with a layer of fibreglass core remains easy to handle and transport. Finally, a beach trolley mounted on low pressure wheels allows you to move on all types of ground. both on the beach and in the boat park. Once afloat, depending on the weather conditions encountered, you can set off in solo mode and without assistance or, on the contrary, you can get help from a dinghy while you lower the rudder bearing surface, which has no intermediate position. The rudder is locked in the down position by one end. A little depth is required before you can manoeuvre your UFO correctly.
A plastic rod had to be added by the SNT monitors to the rudder head to allow it to be locked when sailing, as the American company did not supply a specific part. Nothing serious, but some small finishing touches can be perfected here and there. Before leaving for my first flight – at least I’ll try to get out of the sea gravity -, I don’t forget to set the foil (its rake) in neutral position thanks to a through axis. The logic would be to move the axis forward as the wind gets stronger but again, no certainty as this new support still requires hours of experimentation. In spite of a few ripples entering the Trinity Channel, it still takes a minimum of 8 knots of wind to start to lift off. I’m taking advantage of this dead time to try my hand at One Fly, the next level up… It’s not even a question of trying to fly but just of staying aboard. I’ll be spending my morning desalinating, gradually draining my strength… the lunch break will be welcome while waiting for a thermal, which is expected to be rather strong in the middle of the afternoon.
Accompanied by instructors from the Glénans who have come down from their archipelago to test this new foiler, we are multiplying the tests at the exit of the channel. Nothing like the sensations of a classic dinghy, for my part I have to relearn everything. It takes a lot of reactivity when listening as the apparent wind changes very quickly with the speed. But also don’t hesitate to shock in the downstroke while staying completely at the heel to allow the UFO to start flying. In spite of several catapults smoothly – this is why a protective equipment including helmet, gloves, shoes and suit is essential -, the sensations are immediately at the rendezvous and the flight never very far for a complete beginner …
A FOILER THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
No doubt half a day of practice would have been enough to understand the flight phase. Vessel trim and flight stability are controlled by the bow sensor, which controls the incidence flap located on the trailing edge of the forward foil. The bow sensor automatically detects the distance between the hull and the surface of the water and continuously corrects the position of the flap. On the other hand, it is difficult to turn without speed because the centre of the drift is very advanced in relation to the centre of the wing. Gybing is always a good option, but be careful of the sun on exit! I’d rather let the pros get stuck to it quickly for the pleasure of the show. The UFO then literally starts to fly over the water at more than 15 knots without forcing it, with bursts of sea water regularly spraying the happy tester when it comes time to touch up the liquid element.
The smile is on everyone’s face. So it’s easy to fly but exhausting even for sportsmen used to such intensity. It must be said that the wind was not necessarily the most suitable for a first experience. However, the smile is on everyone’s face and it is with regret that we have to whistle at the end of the recess… With only one desire: start again as soon as possible because the UFO has everything to please, addiction guaranteed!