Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back on the water

The SYZ & CO hydrofoil catamaran back on the water

Geneva, 24 September 2009 – Taken out of the water in May to allow alterations to take place during the summer’s light wind conditions, the SYZ & CO hydrofoil catamaran is now ready to tackle the Lake Geneva speed records. She will be back on the water at the end of the month, after a strict diet and a significant increase of the volume of her hulls, which have been extended from 32 to 35 feet.

Losing weight

Weight is the Nr 1 enemy aboard racing yachts and this is particularly true for hydrofoil boats. The two months of intensive tests following the maiden flight have shown that the stress sustained by the structure was less important than expected: this meant it was possible to lighten the boat. Each element has thus been taken down and weighted to allow the engineers and the sailing team to determine where weight could be saved. Gram after gram, the total weight savings are significant and have been able to make up for the new hulls’ additional length.

Hull increase

The main alteration concerns the hulls, which have gone from 32 to 35 feet, i.e. the same length as the D35s and the new Ventilo 35. They have been lengthened both fore and aft and the bows are now rounder. The increase in buoyancy will allow a higher speed in Archimedean mode (i.e. in conventional sailing) and will reduce the risk of pitch poling.

Tackling the records

Once relaunched, the revamped hydrofoil catamaran will try to take advantage of the fall’s stronger winds to break Lake Geneva speed records. Weather permitting, the «SYZ & CO» aims to win the Blue Ribbon (back and forth lake crossing), as well the hour and kilometer records. « If we wanted to tackle the different records this year still, we had to start the alterations as soon as possible and therefore miss out on the Bol d’Or Mirabaud. Considering this year’s conditions, it was the right decision to make but this long forced break has whetted our appetite! » said Alex Schneiter. « We can’t wait testing these new hulls and confirm the speed increase we’ve achieved ».

Future evolutions planned during the winter

The alterations brought to the «SYZ & CO» during the summer are just the first step of the improvements considered by the architects and engineers. Other alterations are still planned for this winter, as many factors influence performance: hull buoyancy, power of the sail plan and lift of the foils. In the future, the boat could thus receive a longer mast, in order to increase sail area, or foils of a different shape. Several different set-ups are also considered, depending on the target objective: a shorter mast and optimized foils for pure speed in strong winds or a longer mast and daggerboards adapted to lake conditions.

« We knew it from the start: the setting-up of such a technological breakthrough requires a long trial and error process » explains Patrick Firmenich. «This is an entirely new field where everything has yet to be invented. This is without any doubt one the most fascinating aspects of this project. What is very reassuring is that we’ve been able to confirm that the boat is fast. Now we just need to optimize her.»