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On Friday 12 September Southampton Solent graduate Geoff Holt, the first quadriplegic sailor to sail solo across the Atlantic, unveiled the University’s latest exciting technological development – an innovation which could change the face of small boat inshore racing.
This year’s PSP Southampton Boat Show will give the industry its first real look at ‘Solent Whisper’ - a 5.9m sailing catamaran with a cutting-edge hydrofoil system.
Designed and built using the state-of the-art yacht design and engineering facilities at Warsash Maritime Academy and Solent's city-centre campus, the catamaran’s technology has already attracted attention from world-class sailors during sea trials this summer.
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 new hydrofoil technology is the brainchild of Ron Price, a Solent yacht and powercraft design graduate who is now Senior Lecturer in Naval Architecture at the University’s Warsash Maritime Academy.
The prototype is the result of months of hard work made possible by the 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 at Solent.
“I was very fortunate to have access to the incredible skill and knowledge of the engineering technicians, the support of staff, and use of the superb facilities at the University,” says Ron.”
It is hoped that a retail production version will be available for the London Boat Show in January 2015.
“We are engineering the boat in a way that the design is smart enough to keep the production costs low,” he says.
“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.
Southampton Solent University has a reputation for leading the world in maritime education and technology, and Ron is one of a long line of design graduates who continue to shape the world of sailing including: Jason Ker, working on Sir Ben Ainslie’s GB America’s Cup bid; Guillame Verdier, who designed the yachts that came both first and second at 2012 Vendee Globe; German Frers Jr; Bill Dixon; Ed Dubois; Rob Humphreys; and Juan Kouyoumdjian.
On the sailing-side world-class Solent alumni include: Helena Lucas, who won Great Britain’s first ever sailing gold at the 2012 Paralympics; Paul Goodison who took gold at the 2008 Olympics; and Herve Piveteau who sailed to victory in the Production Boat Class at the Mini Transat 2008, the French equivalent of the OSTAR.
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