A group of sailors known as “Team Falcon” has made history by successfully completing their mission to ‘fly on water’ across the 662-mile open ocean from New York to Bermuda in a 46-foot hydro-foiling catamaran – the F4. The “flying” refers to the way the catamaran can reach extremely high speeds and lift the boat off the surface of the water, literally hovering a few feet on its foils.
“We are stepping into a completely new realm with the open ocean,” says Shannon Falcone, designer of the 46-foot-long catamaran. “This is the first production ocean-going foiling boat.”
The team was led by Jimmy Spithill – ORACLE Team USA’s helmsman and two-time America’s Cup winner. Spithill and his crew Falcone, Rome Kirby, Tom Loughborough, Cy Thompson and Emily Nagel reached their destination after 66 straight hours at sea, at times encountering winds over 40 knots and waves as high as 25 feet. According to Red Bull Media, the mission almost didn’t happen after being postponed several times due to hurricanes and dangerous winds.
“We went from pushing the boat for performance into survival mode,” said Spithill. “These were the biggest waves I’ve faced in a multi-hull and hopefully don’t ever have to experience again!”
According to the team, one of the boat’s features that made “survival mode” possible was an abundance of carbon fiber composites. The F4’s tubes, bars, riggings and four of the five sails on the F4 were made completely with carbon fiber, which gave the boat more construction consistency.
“The most important thing about foiling sails is trying to reduce the drag and the shape in the sails,” says Loughborough. “You need to flatten them as soon as you get sailing … [But] that is exacting a lot of load and carbon fiber is the only material that can withstand [it].”
To learn more about the F4, watch the video below: