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Foiling Tri Flips Near South Beach

On Tuesday afternoon the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco watchstanders received a request for assistance near South Beach Marina — a man had capsized his 15-ft sailboat. The unnamed sailor was located at 4:45 p.m. and was rescued and transported back to South Beach Marina with “no reported injuries or medical concerns.”

Foiling cat
The first Hobie TriFoiler was built decades ahead of the high-tech foiling craft zooming around the Bay today, but it can hold its own with speed.
© 2021 USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Hunter Schnabel

Now that we’ve established no one was hurt, we can get to the fun part — the boat.

The photos taken by the USCG show us that the flipped boat is a foiling tri. And on closer examination, a TriFoiler by Hobie Cat.

We imagine this cat will be righted and back to sailing very soon.
© 2021 Petty Officer 3rd Class Hunter Schnabel

This is what a TriFoiler looks like in its preferred position.

They tend to go faster when they’re upright.
© 2021 Hobie

Hobie built its first model in 1981 — a small hydrofoil trimaran sailboat. This then evolved to become the TriFoiler, manufactured in 1995. Following their desire to break the world speed record, Dan and Greg Ketterman built five prototypes (TF20, TF2, TF3 Longshot I and II) and four production prototypes (Avocet 1, 2 & 3, TFP). Longshot, owned and sailed by Russell Long, broke the Class A world speed record, setting the record at “43.55 knots on a 500-meter course in Tarifa, Spain, in 1993.”

According to Hobie’s TriFoiler History, the company built a total of 11 variations of the original hydrofoil trimaran. As you can see from the record above, it is a very fast little boat.

The TriFoiler is no longer in production, and this brings us to our next point of interest. How did this particular TriFoiler end up sailing on the Bay? Who is the sailor, and how did he come to own the boat?

If you know anything about this person and his boat, or if it’s you (we’re very happy that you’re safe, by the way), drop us a line at


  1. Mark Wheeles 4 months ago

    It was probably Drew

  2. Jim Gossman 4 months ago

    I watched the early prototype vaporizing the inner harbor at Cabrillo Beach (San Pedro ) in the early 80’s. I almost got to drive it at the San Luis Speed trials for windsurfers, but it broke something right before my turn. Pretty complicated to set up, launch, and find space to sail, so I was surprised when Hobie got involved. The most amazing thing about them is how fast they turned They .must have pulled a couple of g’s slingshotting around jibes. Looks like Moths etc. still use the same kind of wand to control pitch. Incredible!

  3. William Edward AULD 4 months ago

    To fast for these old 80 year old bones. Give me a Spencer 35 and set me free in British Columbia, Had one and wish I never sold it.

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