Hydrofin has set out to improve the performance and efficiency of the original multihull boat—the pontoon. An Innovation Award Winner at the 2021 IBEX boatbuilder trade show, Hydrofin’s patented Super Fly hydrofoil system enhances lift at speed, especially on bi-toon boats.
Designed by Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering for single-outboard ’toons, the Super Fly system consists of wings that install under the boat on the inner walls of the sponsons, says Jason Minor, founder and CEO of Hydrofin based in Grapevine, Texas.
Engineered to carry 40 percent of the boat’s weight while underway, the wings lift the front of the boat 4 to 8 inches to reduce drag, Minor says. He envisions the systems as an OEM option or dealer-installed upgrade. The aircraft-grade aluminum wings feature vertical struts that extend upward and connect to reinforced plates on the underside of the deck structure to resist water pressure pushing upward at speed. Replaceable breakaway pins at the strut and fin attachment points help prevent damage to the boat should the wings strike a submerged object.
I had a chance to experience the Hydrofin in action on the waterways of Tampa, Florida, this past fall with five people aboard a Misty Harbor 2528 pontoon with a dry weight of 2,300 pounds, powered by a Mercury Marine 150 hp FourStroke outboard.
At idle speeds, there was no discernible effect on performance. However, the wings began to generate lift at about 15 mph. I could feel the boat begin to levitate as we approached top speed, experiencing the greatest lift at wide-open throttle at 5,500 rpm and 37.5 mph. That’s a 19 percent increase in top speed versus 31.5 mph for the Misty Harbor without the Hydrofin Super Fly system, Minor points out.
I worried that the Hydrofin might lift the propeller out of the water too high, but that did not occur because the wings primarily lift the bow. I also found that the Hydrofin-equipped Misty Harbor responded well to judicious outboard trim at top speed, helping to lift the bow even more.
Any concerns about possible handling quirks vanished as I aggressively carved sharp turns at speed. The Hydrofin-equipped Misty Harbor cornered with V-hull-like characteristics, taking turns with a comforting inward lean. I did need to trim down slightly during hard lateral acceleration, something you would expect to do with any outboard or sterndrive boat.
The comparison-test data supplied by Minor supports the assertions of improved fuel efficiency with the Hydrofin. Miles per gallon climbed from 2.6 with a bare hull to 3.5 with the Super Fly at 31.5 mph. It climbed from 3.1 mpg to 3.7 mpg at 25 mph.
As of this writing, no pontoon builders had opted to partner with Hydrofin to offer the system as an OEM option on new models, though the Hydrofin has been engineered to work with more than a dozen pontoon brands, according to the company’s website.
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For the aftermarket, Minor highly recommends installation by a qualified dealer. The bi-toon system sells for $1,995, plus installation costs ranging from $1,500 to $1,800. The Hydrofin Super Fly system carries a one-year warranty against defects in manufacturing and a 30-day money-back-guarantee product refund if you’re not pleased with the performance.