A ‘cruising’ hydrofoil

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The concept of a hydrofoil cruiser first captured Arnold Freidling’s imagination when he saw a tiny Moth with foils in Hamburg, Germany.

The concept of a hydrofoil cruiser first captured Arnold Freidling’s imagination when he saw a tiny Moth with foils in Hamburg, Germany. It was at a boat show and Freidling, a 29-year-old industrial designer, stopped to talk to the owner of the 11-foot racing sailboat.

“I got really fascinated with hydrofoils,” says Freidling, and with the idea of putting foils, or vertical wings, on a hull, which enable it to rise up out of the water and “fly” with just the foils touching the water.

Hydrofoil sailboats are fast, very efficient and exciting. It was just the right idea for his master’s degree thesis, which required him to develop the concept for a new product, illustrate and present it. Freidling, a native German who raced as a child on Lasers and Capris and still does some cruising and Wednesday-night racing on a friend’s sailboat in Santa Barbara, Calif., started researching hydrofoils.

“There were not very many [hydrofoil] yachts that you could go on a trip on for a couple of days and do some casual sailing,” he says. So was born the concept of a monohull hydrofoil cruiser.

Freidling, completing the requirements for his industrial design degree from Braunschweig University of Art in Braunschweig, Germany, consulted with a naval architect to get the broad outlines of the design right. The result not only helped earn him his master’s degree but won him a 2006 first-place design award in the transportation category from Pininfarina, the Italian firm that designs Ferraris, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos and other high-end products.

Freidling, who now works as a product designer for LifeStyleDesign in Santa Barbara, thinks he may have come out with his concept at just the right time, with the April news that the French 18-meter hydrofoil l’Hydroptère had just set speed records of 44.81 knots over a 500-meter course and 41.69 knots over one nautical mile. He’s hoping a naval architect will like the concept, flesh it out with him, and turn it into reality.

“I’m optimistic that these will become more visible in harbors over the next few years,” he says.