A low profile low cost hydrofoil for kitesurfers to attach to twin tip kiteboards.
I've always been curious about how things work and creating things has always been a passion since my first lego kit I was given as a child, even though back then I needed my dad's help to make it. I've always liked to explore my creative side but more often my curiosity brought the technical side to the fore, the end result was 13 years as a Mechanical Engineer.
I always felt myself fortunate in my job, there was a lot of freedom to explore different avenues, I would never be pigeon holed into one particular area. This gave me a range of skills, from design through to the analytical. When my company moved the operations to the US and leaving myself redundant, I was left asking: How can I best make use of these skills to do something for myself? I wasn't quite ready to go straight back into corporate life and I had a unique opportunity to find my own path.
It was a discussion with the local shop that sparked my interest in the hydrofoil design, when the shop owner mentioned about the hydrofoil market and how it was growing. This gives me the perfect outlet. I've been kitesurfing for 5 years and love it, to work in this field would be a fantastic opportunity. A lot of products and innovation these days require electronics and software, and apart from the odd html knowledge, I can change the font and insert a paragraph, these aren't skills I possess. Neither, I should add, is actually manually creating things. I know what I want to achieve but the signal going from my brain to my hands seems to get rather distorted. With modern day computing and the latest 3d printer technologies, I can overcome these limitations!
I've found it exciting to see how the project evolves and the interest in generates. How will the project look on final completion? Certainly it is not what I thought it would look like when I started, when I first discovered that you can put a carbon fibre skin on a 3D print and the material cost was relatively low. That the process took a couple of days and that carbon fibre wasn't the friendliest of materials to work with quickly put me off that design. I did look at the more conventional carbon fibre process, in theory it is quite simple. Create the part, okay. Create the mould, sounds simple enough. Get some prepreg material, okay again. Get an oven, vacuum bag and compressor, now this is starting to turn into a production line and not something I'm quite prepared, or my girlfriend is prepared to allow me, to turn my conservatory in to!
And what of the analysis? I can run simulations to calculate the lift and the stresses the foil will go under during ideal conditions, but the foil will almost never be under these conditions, as the water gets choppy and the riders undoubtedly puts the board at various angles never imagined, not to mention the heights they can float (fall?) from. A phrase I often find myself using after designing something, “why on earth would you use it like that?” Though I'm probably thankfully for humankind that not everyone's brain is wired the same as mine!
With each iteration of the design, I can see it evolving, I can see challenges and I can see how to overcome them for the next design and I apply for design protection on each one. I sometimes wish the next design would be the final one, but when it is not, I reflect and think that when I do get to a working solution, which I will, then it it just makes it that little bit more satisfactory to look back on the journey I took, and I love to see the interest people take in it.
I love sharing my story and I really enjoy people taking an interest and being involved, so if you have read this and find yourself intrigued, please look me up.
Founder and Managing Director of Forty1 Kitesurfing