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The 'Flying' Carbon Fiber Boat that Might Finally Make the Hydrofoil Go Mainstream

We've covered the hydrofoil ad nauseum. But try as you might, the hydrofoil design is more persistent than a honey badger.

The hydrofoil dates all the way back to about 1908 when Sir Alexander Graham Bell started tinkering with the prospect of a hydrofoiling boat.

In the 115 years since, the hydrofoil has ebbed and flowed through boating's mainstream, sometimes edging into large-scale production, and other times retreating back to the depths.

It's gaining steam once again, this time in the form of high-end luxury hydrofoiling dayboats. The most elegant of which is likely the 'flying' carbon foiler from Enata Group.

The company, based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, has announced a new 9.8m (32 ft) carbon fiber hydrofoil dubbed Wingman Gen 2. Their first generation received major coverage, including a test drive from well-known car enthusiast and YouTuber Supercar Blondie.

The Wingman Gen 2 will showcase a new foiling system creating a 40 knot (46 mph) top speed in 'Archimedean' mode, as well as a knot (14 mph) 'flight mode.' Power comes via a diesel-electric hybrid engine providing a 130 nautical mile range. There is seating for up to 8 passengers.

The Gen 2 will offer twice the power the previous generation and a reduction in weight of 200 kg (44 lbs).

A smart monitoring and control system means users do not need advanced piloting skills, offering a user-friendly driving experience whereby the boat assigns its ideal foiling angle while underway, factoring in resistance caused by water conditions, and corrects the boat accordingly.

When foiling, the boat sits 1.5 m (5 ft) above the water, meaning small to midsize waves cannot reach the hull to affect ride stability.

“The Foiler represents a unique and unparalleled step toward a future of boating, and the evolution of the Wingman control system highlights the technological skill that resides with Enata,” said Alois Vieujot, director of Enata Group.

“It opens up possibilities for new and existing owners alike, and demonstrates our commitment to creating the most advanced and efficient yachting experience, from maintenance to magical moments on the water.”

The onboard monitoring system that regulates the foils will draw data from more than 250 points on the boat, giving owners vast control over the the ride quality. This also helps with fuel consumption and gives access to diagnostic data that owners can use to monitor engine condition, maintenance, and related factors. Diagnostic data can also be sent from the boat to Enata HQ via onboard Wi-Fi and/or a mobile app, ensuring that both owner and manufacturer are monitoring the boat's status.

The onboard systems package comes from Enata's aerospace manufacturing division, and can even be retrofitted into previous generation boats. The Enata aerospace division currently manufactures drones, remote controlled aircraft, and advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's). The company is also offering their hydrofoils for military applications, including an armoured autonomous version known as the Foiler USV with a range over 2000 km (1240 miles).

Enata Group has also announced plans for new models in later 2023 and beyond. Their Oryx prototype is expected to offer an unrivaled 140 km/h (87 mph) cruising speed. Much of the new tech for the Oryx will come from Enata's aerospace division, as well as a partnership with electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) specialist Bellwether Industries.

The Oryx is expected to debut later in 2023.

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