Foils (Vendée Globe 2016)

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In the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe RTW race there will be six brand new VPLP-Verdier designed boats. They will be equipped with foils (aka foiling daggerboards), a new type of daggerboard for these IMOCA class sailboats.

Typical straight daggerboards reduce leeway, stoping the boat from drifting sideways due to the sideways force of wind on the sails. However the new foiling daggerboards attempt to prevent drift and enhance downwind performance.

In the Vendée Globe the number of appendages is limited to five. Appendages include: keel, rudders, daggerboards, and foils. Essentially skippers have to choose between typical daggerboards or foils (if their budget can afford foils).

Morgan Lagravière standing on the foil of the boat Safran
Morgan Lagravière présente les foils de Safran © Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Safran


Safran, skippered by Morgan Lagravière, was the first of the new IMOCA boats to enter the water and the first to use foils. There were problems aboard Safran during the recent Transat Jacques Vabres race. The foils are generating more power than expected and have overloaded structures in the boat. Five months after the worrying structural damage occurred aboard Safran, Morgan Lagravière relaunched the boat in late March. He will be competing in November in his first Vendée Globe race.

Here are some comments by boat designers regarding foils on the IMOCAs:

  • Foils are efficient when reaching and the boats slam less.
  • Boats with foils are handicapped upwind particularly in lighter conditions.
  • Setting up the foils can be complicated and the rules do not allow modifying the foil during the race.
  • The foils need to allow the boat to be lifted up when sailing downwind and to avoid drift when going upwind.
  • Boats with foils are designed for specific conditions and perform better in certain points of sail.
  • Each boat skipper has individual choices regarding foil specification.

Some videos from the Safran Sailing Team:

Navigation musclée de Safran

The foils user manual

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