by Steve Lague

Foiling yachts have been around for many years now with several smaller racing yacht classes and, of course, the America’s Cup all using the technology. Now Beneteau, one of the world’s leaders in yacht design, has developed the first production monohull with foils.

While the the Figaro Beneteau 3 is designed primarily as an offshore racing yacht it, like the Figaro Beneteau 2 it replaces, can also be used for more leisurely activities.

According to Beneteau the design brief for the Figaro Beneteau 3 was to create a boat that performed well and was as reliable as the Figaro Beneteau 2. They also wanted to design a hi-tech boat both in terms of manufacturing materials and processes.

figaro beneteau 3-b

figaro beneteau 3-cWith a heavy emphasis on top-level performance and competition, the latest iteration no only has foils but it also has a more high-performance hull below the waterline that is free of ballast tanks. The keel is also narrower and lighter and the mast has been stepped further aft to allow for a more generous sail plan. It has also been designed so that if a foil was broken in a collision, it would not damage the boat’s structure.

The first Figaro Beneteau 3 is expected to be completed and ready for testing early next year. Beneteau is aiming to build 50 of these one-design yachts by the end of 2018 and has created the Beneteau Racing Division Group. It will distribute them solely to people competing in that competition.

While we are not expecting to see any in Australia you can be sure that if successful, (they are expecting them to be 15 per cent faster than conventional design) it won’t be long before foils start to be added to other Beneteau designs.

Nobody is sure how long it will be before we start to see the technology used in the recreational boating industry but there are several manufacturers around the world that are looking at the technology. One company in Sweden put a foil system on a small trailer boat powered by a 50hp outboard and claimed it reduced fuel consumption by 75 per cent.figaro beneteau 3-a


Length Overall: 10.85m
Waterline length: 9.00m
Beam: 3.40m
Draft: 2.50m
Light displacement Ballast: 2900kg
Mainsail area: 39.5 sqm
Jib area: 30.5 sqm
Large spinnaker area: 105.0 sqm