​Photo: Per Thorén

The optimist dinghy proves it can fly

Students and researchers at Chalmers and SSPA have together designed and developed an optimist dinghy with supreme capabilities. By using a composite with added graphene, the hull is made stronger and lighter. Hydrofoils are added to lift the boat, decreasing drag and allowing greater speeds. After tests performed in SSPAs towing tank, the dinghy was ready to be tried out at sea for the first time.

​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?
 
The optimist dinghy has, since it was conceived in 1947, become one of the world’s most popular sailing dinghies, with over 150 000 boats registered. The boat, only 2.3 metres in length and with a sail area of 3.3 square metres, is normally limited to speeds below 4 knots.
 
However, by building the boat in carbon fiber and graphene, and fitting it with hydrofoils lifting the hull out of the water, the hydrodynamic resistance can be reduced dramatically.
 
The hydrofoils, constructed and tested at SSPA, allowed the optimist dinghy to sail as fast as the wind in the recently conducted sea trials, achieving a maximum boat speed of 12 knots in only 12 knots of wind.

Watch a video about the premiere of the foiling optimist

For more information, please contact:
Christian Finnsgård, +46- 31 772 9156, mobile +46-730729156, christian.finnsgard@chalmers.se

Published: Fri 07 Apr 2017. Modified: Mon 22 May 2017