Glide Free Design
It all began in Grafton, NSW in Australia in 1996 when Ian Ward was offered a chance to sail a Hobie Trifoiler designed by Greg Ketterman. Incredible performance in a breeze, but how much better would it be if it were much lighter, simpler and even faster!!
Ian built a similar Trifoiler Moth in 1996 and modified it until in 1999, when struck by a magical thought...... What if it were possible to foil on just the centreboard and rudder foil? The benefits of heeling to windward for increased stability & lift and the low drag from fewer foils were immediately obvious, what was not clear was how to make it work and if it was even stable enough to sail.
First centreline foiling dinghy 1999
First Dinghy Foiler - Moth.
Ian built the first foiling Moth to use centreline foils in 1998 and proved that it really could be done in November 1999. Later, John Ilett independently developed his own foiling Moth in Perth, which kicked off the current foiling craze in Moths.
First ever lift off on a Laser
In 2009, a friend Peter Stephinson challenged Ian to put his unique flapless foils on Michael Blackburn's bronze medal winning Olympic dinghy!
Even today, experienced sailors find it hard to believe that it is possible to foil any sailing dinghy other than a Moth … but seeing really is believing!!
At first they met many design challenges while testing their development on a two man NS14 dinghy, but finally proved it could work in November 2009. It was then decided to design a version which was far more practical than existing foils used in Moths which require launching the boat on its side in deep water.
First foiling NS14
The new design involved retractable foils, integral wand and strong, robust components, with the aim of solving many of the practical problems associated with foiling.
In 2010, Peter and Ian formed Glide Free Design and began production trials in 2012. They were ready with the first production model at the end of 2013.
There have been many ongoing developments, adapting the kit to the Laser, RS Aero, Open Bic, Malges 14, Devoti Zero, NS14, Tiwal, dinghies as well as a kite powered Nacra 18 catamaran.
Glide Free Design has along the way supported several developers of foiling boats, most notably friend and fellow Moth sailor, Jim French from Melbourne. In 2018, Glide Free Design licensed Skeeta Foiling Craft to use their system on a unique foiling scow dinghy called Skeeta, which is already proving highly successful.
In June 2018 Skeeta Foiling Craft in turn appointed Glide Free Design as a distributor of the Skeeta foiling dinghy.
Skeeta has opened foiling to a whole new generation with David French and Harry Ward taking to the air!
During late 2018, Jim & Ian came up with the concept of a simple foiling dinghy for kids. A boat that we wish was available when we were kids.
Nikki has lead a charmed life and sprung into production through the efforts of Jim & David French and is now being marketed by Glide Free Design.
Nikki also uses the Glide Free foiling system which helps make this revolutionary little dinghy so safe & simple and easy to rig, launch and sail.