By far the most interesting piece of news I picked up while wandering the show in Annapolis the last two days came from this man, Foxy Callwood, renowned owner of Foxy’s Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. During the course of a rambling conversation, Foxy complained of the lagging effort to revitalize his home island after last year’s devastating hurricane. He also let slip with a sly smile that he was working on a scheme to launch a new airline, JVD Airways, that he hopes will help rekindle the local economy by offering direct flights from all over the U.S. straight to the Virgin Islands.
Foxy being Foxy, I thought at first he must be kidding. But no, he is very serious. I asked if he has secured funding, and he dropped a name that would raise anybody’s eyebrows. Foxy is still working on putting this deal together, and asked that I not divulge the identity of his prospective partner, but you heard it here first folks: this could really happen.
Speaking of old guys with crazy ideas, the second most interesting thing I found at the show, in one of its loneliest corners, was the Zephyr, a small trimaran with what looked like a hang-gliding rig on top of it. Standing next to it was Tony Smith, retired creator of the Gemini catamaran and the Telstar trimaran.
Tony Smith (left) and his son showing off the Zephyr
On inspecting this crudely built craft, I asked Tony if it was a prototype, and he said no. He did admit, however, that he had built it himself in his garage. His goal, he explained, is not to put it into production himself, but to find someone else who’d like to take on the project.
The rig is ingenious. It works on the same principle that propelled Paul Larsen’s Vestas Sailrocket to a world speed-sailing record back in November 2012. A highly efficient foil that is canted to windward an angle (as on a windsurfer, for example) to offset the heeling force it generates, with the direction of its driving force perfectly opposed to a foil under the hull. Except unlike Sailrocket, which was designed for straight-line speed runs over a short distance, the Zephyr can be tacked back and forth, thanks to a pair of simple manually driven hydraulic pistons that hold the sail aloft.
Tony insists he had the core idea for this rig at least 15 years before Paul Larsen started developing Sailrocket, but never had time to develop it until now. Unlike modern foiling craft, where the goal is get the hull out of the water, the challenge here is to keep it from flying off into the air (watch some early Sailrocket crashes and you’ll see how exciting this can be). For more details, including a viddy of the boat sailing, you can check out zephyrsail.com
Tony demonstrates the controls. You steer with your feet and two lines control the foil’s attack angle and its orientation to the hull. When tacking the sail is briefly in a horizontal position over the hull, just like a hang-glider
Other items of interest seen at the show:
Beneteau’s new Figaro 3, the world’s first mass-production one-design foiling monohull. These foils won’t fly the hull, but are designed to increase stability and decrease effective displacement under sail. Given the importance of the Figaro class in Europe, this boat will serve as training wheels for the next generation of singlehanded racing sailors
Inside the Figaro. Accommodations only a racer could love. The line-controlled foils are housed in the large box beam just forward of the nav module
A shocking new trend in cruising catamaran layouts! On three different cats I inspected at the show I saw full-length owner’s staterooms in the port rather than starboard hull, including on this Bavaria Open 40
Meanwhile, I saw grown men cry as they stepped down into the huge systems basement beneath the cabin sole of the new Neel 51 trimaran
Electric Torqeedo drive-leg on the new RS 21 sportboat. It pulls up into the hull, with its aperture neatly sealed, when not in use. Very cool, except Tom Hale, SAIL’s new systems guru, tells me Torqeedo does not approve of this installation, as the drive-leg is not designed to be perpetually immersed in water
The aluminum boat wave keeps building! This is the first Alubat, a shiny new 365, seen at the show in several years
I’m flying home right now, but I’ll be back in Annapolis next week to test-sail boats for the comic. Stay tuned for more on that.