Behind the Design of the Tracer Hydrofoil with Craig Tompkins
Why have you introduced the new Tracer into the range?
The Tracer v3 brings improved performance and features desirable for not only foiling progression, but high performance riding across a range of disciplines. There was an opportunity to redesign parts of the foil from the ground up, pushing for the ultimate product in terms of compatibility, riding characteristics, and rigidity throughout each component’s connection.
What does the product offer the customer as a result of this?
The Tracer v3 offers the perfect balance between ease of use and the ultimate maneuverability.
Depending on your tail setup and fuselage length, the foil can be optimized to suit your riding style and skill level. From improved stability to an incredibly responsive and snappy technical foil, the Tracer will offer everything you need to push your foiling to the next level.
What are the main shape characteristics, and any big changes compared to the previous version?
Compared to the Tracer v2, v3 features an increased aspect ratio, swept wingtips, thinner profile, and fuselage integration with an improved TaperLock mast to fuselage connection. While yaw and roll stability are managed through shape, the swept wingtips further improve maneuverability.
Previously, our mid-aspect foils were AR6.0, while we have now managed to push that up to AR8.2, with very positive performance gains.
Who was involved in the R&D and testing?
We had some of our most experienced riders testing the performance characteristics, as well as some more modest riders across surf, wing, and SUP testing the ease of use. The Tracer was born and bred to cater to each rider across wing sizes and all of the configuration options.
Key athletes that influenced the development were the likes of Elias Ouahmid, Victor Hays, Peter Peterson, and Clinton Filen. We’ve also had the young winging sensation, Xavi Corr, testing the Tracer in Spain to make sure it meets the high standards required for his level of competitive wing riding.
What kind of customer would use this setup?
The Tracer is designed for entry to mid-level riders looking to push their foiling to the next level with maximum versatility, or the advanced rider looking for the ultimate technical performance.
The larger wing sizes are best suited for entry level winging and surf foil progression. The mid-sizes are ideal for high-performance surf and wing foiling, with an entry into downwind. The small to medium size foils are best for high performance wing, surf, and tow-in foiling.
Tell us about the key performance characteristics?
Stability for intuitive ease of use, and maneuverability at speed are the key performance characteristics.
The foil will carve through 360 degrees without missing a step, while giving you the efficient pump and glide you’re looking for when connecting waves, transitioning, or winging.
The Tracer also has an incredible stall speed, meaning you’re going to stay up on the foil across a wide range of speeds, allowing for super stable transitions.
What is something that you find fascinating about the product?
Well, one thing that is really interesting about this product, or what I find fascinating, is the blended fuselage to wing connection.
Our previous generation foils made use of a top mounted bolt-on fuselage, which was highly functional but somewhat limited its performance. Having the unique opportunity to integrate this connection allowed me to become fascinated with efficiency and blended surfaces to create a beautifully smooth transition – something very much needed when optimizing glide and pump efficiency is on the cards.
What are you most excited about as a result of this?
The versatile performance & high-speed control is unmatched. It’s relatively straightforward to design a foil that is super fast. It’s also relatively simple to make a foil that turns very well. A far more complex challenge was not only making a foil that carves with intuitive ease, but does so at a wide range of speeds, and through the corners.
Often, the amount of energy required to pivot through a turn kills the foil and may create a stall. We have overcome this hurdle through controlled optimization of wing shape, aspect ratio, angle of attack, as well as the foil profile itself.
Using a profile of this standard enables some incredible efficiency over a varying range of attack angles, meaning the rider is going to carry speed and control with ease.
Tell us more about the overall modularity and tuning options available?
Fuselage lengths and tail selection will play a key role in the riding experience of these foils, and we have tuned the complete setups to what we feel is a good balance of technical performance and intuitive ease.
That being said, the modular Tracer platform is open to 3 rear fuselage length options, 4 trimmable stabilizers, along with the various mast length options. It all comes down to user preference, and we have covered the bases with the components available.
For example, fitting a shorter fuselage will provide high maneuverability and more efficient pumping, with its shorter cadence, compared to the 36.5cm fuselage. The longer effective cadence of the 36.5cm fuselage provides a more stable platform, for general freeride use and progression. Further rider tuning will enable the foil to be pushed to its peak performance based on the conditions at hand.
Hydrofoil development is progressing at a rapid pace, tell us more about the design process?
We make use of digital composite design and rapid prototyping process. Our foils start their life in the computer, where exploration of aspect ratio and shape drive our ideation and conceptual phase of development. From here, CFD analysis (Computational Fluid Dynamics) gives us a workable reference for performance characteristics. This process is repeated and refined before the first test prototypes are developed.
Our prototyping process has been refined to near production spec, giving us the most accurate representation of how the foil will perform. Our prototypes are tested thoroughly, with fuselage and tail tuning and pairing. Notes are made and objectives are set, beginning the next phase of development.
A number cannot be placed on how many prototypes we have made per model, but we are constantly refining and pushing our abilities within the boundaries of hydrofoil design.
And what are your key technologies – what are the wings made of?
Our Aerocore Carbon composite hydrofoil wings are produced with high quality Toray Carbon for rigidity, and feature expanded epoxy cores for lightweight.
Under a heat press manufacturing process, these wings maintain tight tolerances and light weight specifications to meet our high performance and quality demands.
Your new Carbon Plus masts boast a stiffness rating of 10/10, how’ve you done that?
Our new ultra stiff Carbon Plus masts make use of a unique manufacturing technique to provide incredible lightweight performance.
Much like the way modern carbon bicycle frames are produced, our Carbon Plus mast makes use of a hollow molding technique with specialized inflatable bladders. Combined with our Ultra High Modulus Carbon, this lightweight mast boasts exceptional stiffness and torsional flex characteristics.
The ultra high modulus Carbon Plus Aerocore masts push the boundaries of flex and torsional stiffness. Each mast we have developed has undergone in depth R&D to enable us to achieve the desired stiffness and flex characteristics. Maintaining the 14mm mast thickness, we have been able to reduce the weight with the hollow structure, while improving stiffness through layup and Ultra High Modulus Carbon specifications.
Carbon Plus Mast Estimated Production Weight:
78cm – 1.85kg
85cm – 1.95kg
98cm – 2.1kg