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McConaghy Boats introduces the Vortex Pod Racer

New foiling speed machine can be flown like an airplane, says McConaghy's Mark Evans

author icon By Ryan Swift | 8 March 2021

McConaghy Boats has released the design for its new Vortex pod racer, a one-person sailing rocket on foils that promises all the speed of America’s Cup style racing, but in a relatively easy-to-use pod. The pod allows sailors to sit in a comfy seat, with all the sail and foil controls right at the hands and feet of the sailor.

McConaghy Boats co-owner and director, Mark Evans, wanted a way for sailors to get the thrills that come with high-speed sailboat foiling, but without having to scramble around on a foiling Moth, which is perhaps more suited to a younger, fitter, audience.

He also took inspiration from watching the intense speeds achieved by iceboats, where a simple pod and a mainsail are balanced by two outriggers.

To sail the Vortex Pod, the pilot/sailor sits inside a cockpit and flies the Vortex like an airplane, controlling the trim and heel (bank) with a joystick and foot pedals to steer. There is no hiking, sliding around on tramps or ducking under a boom.

The Vortex’s innovatively simple control system allows the sailor/pilot three-dimensional freedom while flying approximately one metre above the water at speeds of 30 knots.

The Vortex’s innovatively simple control system allows the sailor/pilot three-dimensional freedom while flying approximately one metre above the water at speeds of 30 knots

The foils are designed to be stable at speed, allowing the Vortex pod to fly over the water like a fighter jet.

Built from carbon fibre, the Vortex pod racer is lightweight, stable, and requires minimal operational effort from the pilot to get underway and airborne.

The Vortex pod racer has in-built waterproof electronics to give you wind direction, wind speed, boat speed, trim and heel. In time, virtual courses on a dedicated cloud site will be available, enabling pilots in multiple locations all around the world to race against each other.

The Vortex’s beam is just slightly wider than that of the average dinghy. The foldable cross beam allows the Vortex to be stored on a trolley with the rig up, keeping setup times to a minimum, and for long-term storage or transport the crossbeam and rig can be removed.

The Vortex pod racer can be launched direct off the beach or via a ramp. Once in the water, the rudder and forward T-foils are easily deployed and retracted from the cockpit controls.

McConaghy Boats has been pioneering the use of foiling systems in sailing, starting with the Mach 2 Moth series. Earlier this year, the Evans confirmed that McConaghy’s was building a power catamaran with a hydrofoil system for Grant Dalton, the CEO of America’s Cup holder Emirates Team New Zealand.

McConaghy’s currently has the first Vortex Pod Racer under construction at its facilities in Zhuhai, China.