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In order for the boat to have vertical stability, the hydrofoils must somehow manage to "see" the air-water interface and thus be able to respond to a vertical displacement perturbation in such a way as to rapidly restore the original flight altitude. Fully immersed foils can only do this by operating very near the surface where lift is a sensitive function of depth, or by having a surface sensor that transmits orders to the hydrofoil for required changes in angle of attack. At the present stage of development, this feedback method is, in the author's estimation, too heavy and complicated to be appealing.

Joseph Norwood, Jr.
High Speed Sailing (1979)


Welcome to the TriFoiler Wiki

This site was conceived and launched through the initiative of several TriFoiler owners for the purpose of sharing technical information and sailing experiences related to this amazing boat. We welcome contributions from all TriFoiler sailors.

The usual wiki copyright and civility rules apply. An exception is that you may present original articles based on original research with yourself noted as author. There is also a section for Trifoiler owners, past and present where you may post your experiences, pictures of your Trifoiler and other speed sailing related projects.

Many thanks go out to Hobie Cat and Dan Ketterman for permission to use narrative and pictures from the [Hobie Cat web site]. NOTE: Hobie Cat recently updated their web site and therefore this link is temporarily missing other links to the history and articles etc. This wiki is currently the best place to read about TriFoilers presently used and sailing throughout the world.

History of Development


The TriFoiler is a hydrofoil trimaran sailboat that began as a small model in 1981. The project culminated with production of the Ketterman (later Hobie) TriFoiler, manufactured between 1992 and 1999. This story describes the boat and the history of the project.

The idea began with the desire to break the world speed record for sailboats. In the process, Dan and Greg Ketterman built five prototypes (TF20, TF2, TF3, Longshot 1 and Longshot 2) and four production prototypes (Avocet 1, Avocet 2, Avocet 3, and TFP).

Development Detail

The narration in these pages is by Greg Ketterman:

Revision Date
Scale Model 1981
TF20 1987-1988
TF2 1989-19xx
Avocet 1,2,3 19xx-19xx
Longshot 1,2 1991-1992
TF3 1990-1991
TFP 1992-1993
TriFoiler 1992-1999

Speed Records

Longshot set records in the A, B, and C Classes, and still holds the A Class. The following table is based on data from the official [[1]] WSSRC web site as of Dec, 6, 2012

        Boat                     Sailor       Location                               knots    mph
      --------                ------------  ---------------------------              -----   -----

A Class (100-150 ft^2) (9.29 - 13.935) :

1990  Longshot                Russell Long  Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada              37.08   42.67
1992  Longshot                Russell Long  St Maries de la Mer, France              41.89   48.21
1992  Longshot                Russell Long  Tarifa, Spain                            42.03   48.37
1992  Longshot                Russell Long  Tarifa, Spain                            43.55   50.12

      Still standing

B Class (150-235 ft^2) (13.94 - 21.83 m^2):

1990  Longshot                Russell Long  Lake Buchanan, Texas, USA                34.53   39.74
1991  Longshot                Russell Long  Bodega Bay, Sebastopol, California, USA  38.13   43.87

      Broken by:

1993  Yellow Pages Endeavour  Simon McKeon  Sandy Point, Victoria, Australia         44.65   51.38
2008  Sailrocket 	      Paul Larsen (AUS)  Walvis Bay, NAM 	             47.36   55.25
2011  Vestas Sailrocket 2     Paul Larsen AUS 	Walvis Bay, NAM 	             49.19 
2012  Vestas Sailrocket 2     Paul Larsen AUS 	Walvis Bay, NAM 	             54.08 
2012  Vestas Sailrocket 2     Paul Larsen AUS 	Walvis Bay, NAM 	             59.23 
2012  Vestas Sailrocket 2     Paul Larsen AUS 	Walvis Bay, NAM 	             59.37 
2012  Vestas Sailrocket 2     Paul Larsen AUS 	Walvis Bay, NAM 	             65.45   75.31  Current 500m outright world record.  

C Class (235-300 ft^2) (21.84 - 27.87 M^2) :

1991  Longshot                Russell Long  Bodega Bay, Sebastopol, California, USA  28.29   32.56
1991  Longshot                Russell Long  Bodega Bay, Sebastopol, California, USA  36.76   42.30

      Broken by:

1993  Yellow Pages Endeavour  Simon McKeon  Sandy Point, Victoria, Australia         46.52   53.50
2008  Macquarie Innovation    Simon McKeon AUS 	Sandy Point, AUS 	             48.14   55.36
2009  Macquarie Innovation    Simon McKeon AUS 	Sandy Point, AUS 	             50.07   57.62

Longshot's best unofficial record speed is 43.59 knots, or 50.16 mph. This speed did not qualify for a new record because it didn't beat the previous speed by a sufficient margin.

Though no longer the world's fastest sailboat, the TriFoiler is still, and for the forseeable future will remain, the fastest production sailboat.

Hobie Production TriFoiler Specifications

Original Specifications:

  • LOA: 22'
  • Main Hull Length 16' 3"
  • Beam: 19' (25' 4" with main foils raised)
  • Mast Length: 18'
  • Sail Area: 215 sq.ft. (150 sq.ft. reefed)
  • Weight: 320 lbs.
  • Designer: Greg Ketterman

Standard Features:

  • White Hulls with Colored Graphics
  • Colored Patented Multi-Sail Zippered Reefing Sails
  • Retractable Forward Hydrofoils
  • Built-in Speedometer
  • Water-Tight Storage Compartment
  • How-to-Rig Video
  • Harken Blocks

Optional Features:

Factory Literature

Sales Brochures

Owner's Manuals


TriFoiler ECNs

The collected TriFoiler Engineering Change Notices (ECNs) issued by the factory during the boat's production.

Maintenance Documentation


Hobie's promotional video clips, news clips, and the rigging and sailing videos provided with the boats.


A collection of magazine articles on the TriFoiler and its antecedents. Also, a recent radio piece.

Other (special) TF-variant boats

Kite powered TriFoiler

Major Production Revisions

  • Rudder housing
  • BFC
  • Bailer
  • Lee Board

Maintenance, Upgrades, and Modifications

All owners should visit the "Maintenance, Upgrades, and Modifications" page, as it contains information on components considered by the factory to be of critical importance to the structural integrity of the boat.

Trailers and Modifications

Technical Articles

GPS, Tracks, and Track Processing

Video Action Cameras and Editing/Overlay Software

Individual Boat & Owner Pages

Click on the link above to go direct to these separate pages. Users, please replicate the syntax to create you own pages. A link is created using dummy link . When it is red, it means that the page it is referring to does not yet exist. Just click the red link and the new blank page appears. Once you put something in the blank page, the referring links turn blue.


With less than 200 boats in existence, the earth's TriFoiler population density is very low. That makes it kind of a big deal when a few of us manage to get together.

Harrowing TriFoiler Tales

Fast Foiling Sessions

Flying a Main Foil


Classified Ads


Mailing List

A low-traffic mailing list dedicated to the TriFoiler has been in operation since 2002 at It is our intention that it continue to operate for the forseeable future in parallel with this site. Should it fall into disuse in favour of the forum here, we should probably import its posting archive.Jonathan 19:19, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Other Online Resources

  • Cliff Sojourner's site - the best single assembly to date, but it hasn't been revised in quite a while and its server resources are limited, hence this site. We'll be porting content from there into here.


Fast boats and other Foilers


Narrative is largely based on Hobie cat WEB history of the TriFoiler at

Used by permission.


Useful editing and formatting information

Wiki markup help

How to format images

Display of pdf or other graphic

Uploading other file types

Getting started

The stuff below was from startup and will be deleted

Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software.

Test Format Page


Frank Neuperger replace % with @

Tell us what you like, don't like or what you would like to see on TF Wiki. If you don't get a timely reply to your account creation request, pls use this email address to inquire.


Due to wiki vandals we have had to turn off the automatic account creation. Please email to replace % with @ requesting an account and your reason for contributing to the trifoiler wiki.


Here's some fine print: Mentions of particular products and manufacturers should be taken in context, and are not intended to imply endorsement or affiliation beyond that expressed in the accompanying text by the author(s). Similarly, links to products on commercial sites are for information and convenience only, and nobody here makes any money if you go look at or buy any of that stuff.

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