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HomeNL-2012-10 The Flyak - Flying Kayak

The Flyak: a Flying Kayak
by John Rich

The Flyak is a kayak with hydrofoils, and was invented by Norwegians Peter Ribe and Einar Rasmussen, who both are world class paddlers. As the name implies, the Flyak "flies", as the entire hull lifts out of the water, and is supported only by the submerged hydrofoils.  The hydrofoils are like airplane wings under water, which create lift as the water passes over them.



The more surface area of a hull "rubbing" against the water, the greater the resistance. The hydrofoil concept reduces this wetted area to a fraction, by utilizing the wing-effect. Once the paddler works the speed up to about 6 mph, the Flyak is ready for take-off, and the boat rises up out of the water, supported only by the hydrofoils.

Theoretically, the Flyak can achieve speeds nearly twice as fast as conventional championship-level racing kayaks.  Speeds of up to 17 mph can be achieved on calm water.  However, you can not go very long distances on a Flyak because it takes intense energy for the paddler to keep up on the foils.  So it's practical application is limited mostly to sprint racing.


"Foil Kayak" article in Industrial Design Served:

A 200 meter sprint was performed pitting Olympic athlete Andreas Gjersøe in a Flyak against the four-man Norwegian National Team in a K4 kayak.  This race was featured on a "Beyond Tomorrow" TV show.  The one-man Flyak won by a boat length and a half!


Here's a comparison sprint race between a Flyak versus a K1 Sprint Kayak - a one-on-one race where only the boat design is different - the Flyak blows away the K1! 


I can't wait to see the first hydrofoil Dragonboat!


The author, John Rich,

taking a flying nap
above the water.