The new hydrofoil technology is the brainchild of Ron Price, a Southampton Solent University yacht and powercraft design graduate who is now Senior Lecturer in Naval Architecture at the University’s Warsash Maritime Academy.
Designed and built by Ron with access to the state-of the-art yacht design and engineering facilities at Solent’s Warsash Maritime Academy and city-centre campus, the catamaran’s technology has attracted attention from world-class sailors during sea trials this summer and turned heads at the PSP Southampton Boat Show in September.
The revolutionary new hydrofoil system provides stability, ease and safety, which along with an affordable projected purchase price, has the potential to offer America’s Cup-style sailing to the masses. The craft’s easy and stable sailing style also mean it could prove popular and accessible for disabled sailors.
Primarily designed with ease and safety in mind, Solent Whisper has also exceeded expectations on the speed front. It comfortably achieves over 25 knots and it can ‘fly’ on its foils in as little as five knots of wind.
The prototype is the result of months of Ron’s hard work, as well as technical experience, support and skills from colleagues across the University and the state-of-the-art facilities at both the engineering workshop at the maritime academy and the composites lab and towing tank at the main campus.
“The skills I gained from the Yacht & Powercraft Design degree, have all borne fruit in the design and build of this new craft, ranging from the Aero-hydrodynamic design of the hydrofoils and sails, to the structural design and build of lightweight carbon structures” says Ron.” Orders are already coming in for the retail production version, which will be showcased at the London Boat Show in January 2015. Ron is working with White Formula UK Ltd to manufacture the craft. “We are engineering the boat in a way that the design is smart enough to keep the production costs low. I’m hoping that my design ideas will make inshore and small boat racing more accessible and affordable for the average club racer, those who sail for pleasure and people with disabilities,” adds Ron.
Giles Barkley, course leader of the B.Eng Yacht & Powercraft Design degree said “we are very proud of what Ron has achieved. He is among many of our students who have gone on to do very successful projects, including Guillaume Verdier’s Open 60 yacht designs for the Vendee Globe Race, and Americas Cup designers working for the UK’s Ben Ainslie Racing team”.