Extract from Yachting World.
They are all slightly different. In essence, there are three concepts at work: one that designers VPLP call the ‘Dali’ foil because of its ostensible similarity to the artist’s moustache; Alex Thompson’s DSS-style foil on Hugo Boss; and another type designed by Nick Holroyd of Team New Zealand used on Jérémie Beyou’s Maître Coq.
The first is a V-shaped foil on which the purpose of the shaft is to hold out an elbow and tip, but the shaft itself is not a key part. On Hugo Boss, the shaft and tip both provide lift, hence Thomson’s board provides, he says, “a two to three times bigger lifting surface.” It is said that Thomson’s foils begin to generate lift at a lower speed and are efficient to a deeper angle downwind than the others.
On Maître Coq the shaft ends in a flat section and has an elbow with a tip that extends vertically.
Every team has been refining these foils. Most have experienced breakages and, after trying out refinements, are on version 2, 3 or even 4. The point is that, for all teams, foils are still very much a learning game.
Alex Thomson came into the Vendée Globe as something of a dark horse, but his boat appears to have the edge over the rest of the foiling pack in downwind conditions. It remains to be seen if a full conclusion can be made since he broke his starboard foil in November, however, as that makes direct comparisons with fellow leader Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire difficult.
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