The Foiling Optimist You Wish You Had as a Kid

foiling optimist
Photo: Chalmers University of Technology

Students and researchers at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology and SSPA Sweden, a maritime consulting company, have developed an optimist dinghy that puts all other optis to shame.

By using a composite carbon/graphene hull built to be stronger and lighter, this group of geniuses went and added hydrofoils to lift the boat out of the water, decreasing drag and allowing the boat to reach speeds you could have only dreamed about as a kid. 

The optimist dinghy has been a staple in pretty much any youth sailing program for decades. Since first hitting the sailing scene in 1947, the opti has grown to become one of the world’s most popular sailing dinghies, with over 150 000 boats registered. The boat, only 2.3 meters in length and with a sail area of 3.3 square meters, is normally limited to speeds below 4 knots. But by adding hydrofoils, researchers say they were able to achieve a maximum speed of 12 knots – the top wind speed during the sea trials. Below is some video of this thing in action:

Foiling Optimist in Action

Chalmers University of Technology shares some more about the project:

A relatively new occurrence within the sailing world is to mount hydrofoils on small sailing dinghies. Chalmers and SSPA wanted the challenge to do this on “the world´s least advanced sailboat” – the optimist dinghy. The main question and problem for the students and the researchers of this project has been: can an optimist foil and how will this be done? 

Here’s some more video from sea trials. Looks fun, doesn’t it?