Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New High-Speed Hull for Fast Passenger Craft

If your passenger routes are not limited to low-speed, low-wake zones, you may want to consider a newly developed hull from Allyn, Washington-based designer, Foonman Enterprises- the new Foonman X-1. We had an opportunity to witness the testing phase on a calm day on a waterway that had a mix of shallow and deep water in Kitsap County, Washington.

The Foonman X-1 appears to have a tunnel hull and pickle-fork design like an unlimited hydroplane, but with a roomier passenger area. The boat is 14 feet long, but looks and feels longer. The hull is very flat right under the passenger area - surprisingly flat. There is some resemblance to a Venetian Gondola, but the resemblance stops there. After the initial tank testing, the freeboard will be lowered in the next generation of the vessel. Test runs operating with an older, off the shelf propulsion package attained speeds of better than 46 knots, and a fresher propulsion package would seem to be able to easily push the Foonman past 50 knots. 

The vessel’s stability is exceptional, and comparable to a much larger craft. One usually would sacrifice stability in a boat to gain potential speed. We were puzzled by the physics of the design, and we asked chief naval architect, Walter Forslund about this. He says the stability is a result of a specially designed, asymmetrical fourth hull, perpendicular to the other three. Forslund says removal of the fourth hull would only gain about 0.5 percent better resistance, which translates to a fraction of that in kph. Even though the vessel doesn’t need all that extra stability, passenger comfort makes it worth the slight sacrifice in speed.

Speed in deep water is very good, although the wake produced at speeds of more than 35 knots is enough to swamp any small vessel in the wake wash zone. The Foonman is definitely designed for offshore or low-traffic areas.

Lead designer Forslund notes that it has a comparable cruising speed as a military-spec fast attack craft, but is considerably more fuel efficient.

In the shallow water sections, one could “feel” the bottom, although the hull seemed to be largely immune to the vacuum created by high speed craft in shallow water. 

Overall, the new Foonman is worth a look if you want speed and need some measure of stability, and can live with a high wake-wash boat. Rumors are swirling through the maritime community that Philips Publishing Group will be entering this design at the Pacific Maritime Magazine Quick and Dirty Boat Competition at the Seattle Maritime Festival in May. We feel that the Philips Racing Team has never been more poised for a win at the event.