IBEX 365 News
2021 IBEX Innovation Award Interview with Hydrofin
News Date: April 11, 2022
The Hydrofin Super Fly is an engineered hydrofoil system designed by Morrelli & Melvin (of America’s Cup fame) specifically for twin pontoon boats (bitoons). Designed to carry 40% of the weight of the boat, these underwater wings produce lift and reduce drag, thereby creating faster, more efficient, and better riding boats.
What problem does this product solve?
Most bitoons with Hydrofin Super Fly ride 6-12 inches higher at the bow and 3-5 inches higher at the stern. Drag is minimized and customers experience speed and fuel savings between 20% and 40% (15%-25% faster with light loads and 30%-40% faster with heavy loads). Pontoons with the Super Fly system are transformed into performance boats that turn tighter, ride smoother, and maintain speed throughout the turn. Passengers are more comfortable and stay drier since the boat rides over the waves rather than plowing through them.
How did you become aware of this problem?
“The founder of Hydrofin is an offshore fisherman who has owned different types of boats over his lifetime. He came up with the idea for the Super Fly on an offshore trip where speed and fuel economy determined the range they could travel,” says Jason Minor of Hydrofin. “Originally looking to create a solution for the offshore market, the founder quickly saw a need and opportunity in the pontoon market, a rapidly growing segment of boating.”
What audience is this product designed to reach?
All bitoon boats can benefit from adding Super Fly. The specific target is anyone looking to enhance the performance of a new or used pontoon boat.
What is noteworthy about the technology used?
Although hydrofoil technology has been in use for decades, it hasn’t filtered to mainstream boating segments like pontoon boats due to the high cost of design and manufacturing. Computer programs needed to design and simulate the impact of different foil geometries were not previously available or were expensive to own and operate until now.
The system is designed to fit a boat with round or U-shaped logs with diameters 23–27 inches. The pressure casted aluminum foils are heat-treated for extra hardness and anodized to resist corrosion. The system is adjusted to accommodate different boat sizes, weights, and speed ranges, but then it’s fixed after installation. Boats can still be beached or trailered since the system is mounted above the cross members of the trailer and only drafts a few inches below the bottom of the boat.
How is it different from any other solution on the market?
Hydrofin’s Super Fly is the first and only patented hydrofoil system for pontoon boats which can be incorporated during the build process at the OEM factory or added to an existing boat aftermarket. The main competitors to this technology incorporate big motors or lifting strakes. Large engines solve the speed problem but are expensive to own and operate. Lifting strakes provide a planing surface but their lift is minimal. The Super Fly addresses both problems with one solution.
What obstacles did you encounter in the R&D process?
The partnership between Hydrofin and Morrelli & Melvin has been ongoing and collaborative and together, we’ve addressed or solved a number of issues: foil shape, lift fractions, structural analysis, speed-to-weight ratios, ventilation, porpoising, installation processes, and locations on the boat, and trailer modifications.
What customizations can be enabled to personalize this product?
The Super Fly system is universal. It can be adjusted for angle of attack and hull placement which allows customers with almost any size and speed pontoon boat to benefit. There are three different products to meet the needs of most bitoon boats. All are patented and available for OEM or aftermarket installation.
How has the product been received?
“Customers with SuperFly are thrilled with the newfound performance of their boats,” adds Minor. “Those who don’t understand the capabilities of hydrofoils are skeptical so we’re providing education and proof through customer video testimonials to support our claims. For example, a 202 Misty Harbor 2585 model with a single 150 Mercury engine went from a top speed of 31.5 mph to 37.5 mph – a 19% increase on a boat that weighs 2,300 pounds empty.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Minimal modifications to some trailers and lifts may be needed. The trailer guideposts may need to be moved forward so the foils don’t touch the posts when loading.
For more information about the 2021 IBEX Innovation Award winners, click here.