Since the late 1800s, researchers have toyed with the idea of putting wings on boats. Now it looks like the team behind Wavefoil will succeed. But to what end? To save on fuel, increase propulsion and stabilize the vessel in strong winds and big waves.
However strange it may seem, fold-out wings—or foils—improve fuel-efficiency and reduce emissions in strong winds and heavy seas. And, as you will see, this is not a novel idea.
In Norway, the idea was pioneered by Einar Jakobsen from Sørumsand, who was an electrical engineer. In 1978, he started working on a so-called foil propeller to replace or complement regular screw propellers. Jakobsen couldn’t make it work, however. In 1998, he sent his notes and drawings to NTNU. The package wasn’t opened until 2010, when Professor Sverre Steen and doctoral candidate Eirik Bøckmann started looking into his work. “We were inspired by Jakobsen’s work,” says Bøckmann, who also corresponded closely with Jakobsen. “Sadly, he died, well into his 90s, shortly before we could launch our concept.”