Hull Vane and an unintended outcome of innovation

By Robert Wielaard

THE HAGUE – Marketing and innovation can have funny consequences.

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph so people could re-hear church sermons at home. He revolutionized the music industry. Some years back, IKEA wondered why flower vases sold well in the US but not in Europe. It turned out Americans thought the vases were drinking glasses.

Hull Vane BV of the Netherlands markets a hydrofoil that sits behind the transom, just below the water surface. It improves fuel efficiency and comfort on boats and ships. Some clients discover an unintended purpose for the Hull Vane.

“We have two boats – a 52m fisheries inspection vessel and a 20m yacht – where scuba-divers use the Hull Vane,” says Hull Vane Sales Director Bruno Bouckaert, with a hoot of laughter. “They stand on top of the Hull Vane to take off their heavy gear” before getting into the boat, he adds. “Or they use the Hull Vane to start diving without making a big splash.”

This unconventional use aside, the Hull Vane makes inroads in the boating and yachting sectors. The patented, partial hydrofoil provides forward thrust plus lift, cutting a displacement or semi-displacement vessel’s resistance

The first Hull Vanes came onto the market in 2014. By now, 43 have been installed, half on small and large motor yachts, the rest on commercial vessels.

“It’s amazing how 500 kilos of sleekly shaped steel have saved 140,000 kilos of diesel fuel and reduced CO2 emissions by 574,000 kilos,” says Bouckaert of a 3-year-old, 25m Port of Rotterdam patrol vessel with a Hull Vane.

CFD analysis and model tests showed up to 29% fuel savings with speeds of up to 20 knots. The RPA 8 was delivered 3 years ago. Kooiman Marine Group shipyard in Rotterdam built the vessel. Hull Vanes come in 4 versions:

  • Custom units for medium-speed displacement vessels
  • Semi-Custom units for steel displacement motor yachts of 10m to 20m. “We analyzed dozens of motor cruisers with a top speed of 12 knots and developed a tool to predict an optimal Hull Vane geometry and position,” says Bouckaert.
  • The Dynamic Hull Vane – a collaboration of Hull Vane BV and Naiad Dynamics – to increase pitch damping. It works like a static Hull Vane, except it is activated with a flick of a switch, and
  • The Foil Assist is a single foil under the hull of fast, planning motor yachts. It’s a small, passive wing of stainless steel, amidships under the hull, to not entirely lift the boat from the water. This reduces pitching and slamming.