SEAir - Providing foil systems for boats

SEAir is one of the world leaders in providing foiling systems for boats. Our systems enable a boat to fly at a steady 20 centimetres above the surface of the water, and SEAir's system are already approved the French MoD, as well as having received the approval of both end users and boatbuilders around the world.

The foiling systems developed and provided by SEAir offer a number of clear advantages, significantly improving seakeeping and comfort levels on board fast boats by reducing slamming, with a resulting reduction in spray. The foils keep the boat above the sea or lake surface, enabling stable performance even in rough sea conditions. The result is comfortable, quiet running with lower engine revolutions, savings in fuel consumption, and the consequent shock mitigation leads to reduced rates of injury and fatigue.

Operating in foil mode gives higher average speeds of at least 20%, as well as greater endurance due to the 30% reduction in any foil boat's typical fuel requirement.

SEAir provides studies and designs, and installs its proven retractable foiling systems to fast boats, complete with electronic management systems and servo-controlled foils.

Since launching its systems, SEAir has received recognition for its foils from the French army and special forces, and the company has been selected by French government defence procurement to participate in the development of a new prototype Assault Flying Watercraft.

There have also been significant milestones from the commercial and leisure sectors, plus SEAir achieved a notable first with three specifically adapted patented systems in a single year, including the first foiling RIB.

Recent deliveries include the new Beneteau (10m/5t) with four foils, and the Sillinger (7.65m) boat, which has integrated intuitive control systems and is able to beach and dock, courtesy of its retractable/folding and servo-controlled foils.

AirShark 765 to carry eight troops

SEAir has modified a standard military craft, a Sillinger Shark 765 with the addition of retractable foils and an electronic management system. Designed to carry a squad of eight military personnel. The shock mitigation factor is an important one, reducing injury rates and fatigue, allowing troops to disembark fresh, while the quiet running, improved stability and increased speed and endurance are also key considerations.

This vessel has already been positively evaluated by French, UK and Swedish defence authorities, using a rigorous scientific approach with 3D imaging and an array of sensors linked to a data acquisition system.

A new European Flying Assault Watercraft

SEAir added foils on an existing boat with the AirShark 765 boat, but a subsequent step is to start from first principles to come up with a new design for a foiling boat, as part of an ambitious project proposed by French government bodies the DGA (Délégation Générale pour l'Armement) and AID (Innovation Defence Agency).

The first stage of this project is to modify an ETRACO based on the Zodiac Mil Pro boat used by the French Special Forces. SEAir's role is to provide a new retractable system to deliver a boat with a completely flush hull when the foiling systems are in the retracted position. Designed to operate on the high seas, this flying boat is expected to have all the characteristics of a standard boat, in addition to which it is required to be quieter, with lower fuel consumption and to be able to operate with maximum discretion.

At the same time, DGA has presented the project as a whole to the 27 EEC member states, with the defence administrations of several expressing an interest; Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden and the UK, while DGA is still in discussions with others. The overall concept is to develop the project co-operatively, with the involvement of at least three European defence administrations.

CEE is expected to cover development costs through the E-DIDP (Financing of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme and the adoption of the work programme voted for the years 2019 and 2020.

SEAir's experts deliver specific studies or flying boats on demand

Our design and workshops teams are able to deliver a variety of outcomes; final products or studies (foil kit including several components) as OEM, or we can build flying boat prototypes on demand.

Every one of SEAir's staff has extensive expertise in his or her own field. The workforce includes naval architects, designers, structural engineers, electronic and embedded software engineers, composite technicians and laminators. All of them have a single common aim - the determination to get boats of the future flying.

The atmosphere at SEAir is conducive to a strong spirit of innovation, with a diverse and inclusive team that brings together engineers with PhDs to top-level foiling racers, including a multiple Atlantic record holder.

Getting your boat airborne

Getting the balance just right is essential, as a foiling boat acts counter to what Archimedes and Newton have taught us. Once airborne and skimming the surface with a 20 centimetre clearance, there are substantial stresses imposed on a boat's structure, so structural engineering in a key discipline for SEAir, which has developed its own digital systems to simulate the configuration of any foiling boat.

The science of foil design

It's no mean feat to get a boat airborne. SEAir has a team of experts able to provide the optimal foil for each boat, either for installation on existing boats or we can design new models to customers' specifications. Designing systems that are retractable and adjustable presents challenges, requiring a range of expertise in the fields of mechanics and servo control loops. With SEAir's background and skills in developing foiling boats, we have the expertise needed to implement these systems on any boat. All of SEAir's systems are certified and we conduct extensive testing to ensure that our systems function under all possible conditions, measuring and analysing the resulting data which we can subsequently utilise in our ongoing development programmes.

Combining skill and passion to bring foils up to date

SEAir came about as the skills and passions of top competitive yachtsman Bertrand Castelnerac and innovative entrepreneur Richard Forest coincided.

Bertrand Castelnerac had already become a specialist in sailing foiling boats, while Richard Forest, who founded ANEO in 2000, sponsored a boat in the Route du Rhum race in 2014 when the ANEO trimaran skippered by came first in its category.
The two founders saw the principle of the foil, already well known for more than a century, as being ready to be brought up to date with the application of new composite materials and heavyweight computer modelling, now available at lower costs, plus miniaturisation of electronic systems needed to control foils.

Only a year after SEAir came into being in 2016, the company had already achieved several world firsts, starting in January 2017 when the SEAir Mini 747 became the first offshore monohull yacht in the world to fly sustainably in open sea conditions.

This was followed by the Maserati trimaran circumnavigating the globe on a sustainable basis. Since then, SEAir made its Flying RIB the first semi-rigid craft in the world to fly.

In 2019, SEAir already filed more than fifteen patents, attracted significant investment and sailed fifteen boats under major brands, including Zodiac Nautic, Sillinger, Beneteau and Zodiac. Beneteau has brought in SEAir to handle the foiling systems of its concept boat of the future, while the French military has ordered the first assault craft equipped with SEAir's foiling systems - and at the commercial end of the scale, water taxi companies are ordering foiling boats, due to the smooth sailing properties and comfort they offer, as well as the fuel economy foils provide.

Based in the port of Lorient in France, the home of French sailing, SEAir is represented in Australia and Europe, and is growing in UAE. Discussions are in progress with potential US suppliers.

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