Need a Lift? The Best Hydrofoils for Outboard Motors

Available to boaters are countless gadgets and tools that to improve their experience on the water.

And while some of these gadgets are more for show and others for convenience, a rare few truly make boating performance better.

Say hello to the hydrofoil.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look like much, but this little device could revolutionize your boating life.

That’s why I decided that I couldn’t ignore hydrofoils, and wanted to shout about them from the rooftops. As I live on a boat, that would be impossible, so the only other way I can spread the message is to write about them instead.

What Is a Hydrofoil?

A hydrofoil is a device that reduces the drag on your vessel by elevating the boat in the water as it gathers speed. The faster you go, the more lift the hydrofoil gives.

The most common shape is a triangular design, a bit like a whales tail fin. It bolts to the outboard motor, typically just above the propeller.

What Are the Benefits of Fitting a Hydrofoil?

Boats can sit heavy in the water, and as you accelerate, this creates drag.

We know that hulls are designed to cut through the water, just as cars are designed to reduce drag in the air. But it doesn’t completely eliminate that resistance.

Fitting a hydrofoil will lessen this effect by lifting your boat as you increase your speed, which also has more advantages:

  • Improved Fuel Consumption — With less drag on your boat, there’s less strain on the motor and reduced fuel consumption.
  • Performance Boost — Fitting a hydrofoil to your outboard motor increases the acceleration and boosts the power.
  • Better Handling — Fitting a hydrofoil is the increased responsiveness of the motor, and the handling. And turning the boat will be a breeze too.
  • Increased Motor Longevity — It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if your outboard motor is working less vigorously, it’s a lot less likely to breakdown. So you save on repairs too!

Boating is an expensive hobby. Ask anyone what “Boat” means, and they’ll tell you it stands for “Break Out Another Thousand.” So, as boaters, we are always looking for ways to save money.

This little device is one answer to reducing costs and boosting performance.

How Does a Hydrofoil Work?

Ever heard the term Fluid Dynamics? It’s what smarter people than me use to describe the effects a hydrofoil creates. In essence, the speed that water moves over the top of the hydrofoil travels faster than the water passing along the lower part of the foil. This creates a drop in pressure, which then generates lift.

It is in stark contrast to how a boat without a hydrofoil behaves at speed. As the boat accelerates, the hull increases pressure drag, meaning that more power is needed to maintain momentum, which then burns more fuel.

The angle of the hydrofoil is essential, and is known as the “Angle of attack.” By adjusting the angle, the performance of the foil can be increased or decreased. With even the smallest change, the lift factor rises dramatically, but the drag increase is minimal. What you should be looking for is to optimize the lift to drag ratio, but as you increase the angle, you should be mindful that you are increasing the risk of stalling.

Does the Size of My Boat Matter?

You can fit a hydrofoil to any size vessel. They are commonly used in commercial shipping, the navy uses them, and many ferries have them installed. The benefits are the same, whatever size of vessel you have.

So, if you own a rib, or a dinghy and think a hydrofoil won’t benefit you, think again. It can turn your little boat into a dynamic, agile and faster craft—the smaller the boat, the more significant the impact.

You will notice the difference instantly after you fit a hydrofoil.

The 6 Best Hydrofoils for Outboard Motors

SE Sport 300 Hydrofoil

SE Sport 300 Hydrofoil
  • Sport Marine
  • SE300GY

This SE model is suitable for 35 to 300 HP engines and comes with the mounting kit to secure it to your outboard motor.

It also has patented Turbo Tracs—a series of crescent-shaped grooves on the rear underside—to improve drag.

This is a lightweight foil, and at just 17 inches by 14 inches, it’s quite compact.

There are two nice color options of white and metallic gray, but the low cost is something that caught my eye.

  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Mounting Kit: Yes
  • Dimensions: 16″ x 19″ x 1″
  • Weight: 3.85 lbs

Stingray Xriii Hydrofoil

Sting Ray XRIII Hydrofoil Stabilizer
  • Captures the prop wash for added thrust
  • 3-point locking system for no-drill installation
  • For engines up to 300 hp.

This Stingray hydrofoil is very clever because it catches the wash from your prop to give you added thrust. It also stabilizes the boat as it moves through the water.

If like me, you are less than skilled at DIY, this foil comes with an easy to fit, 3-point locking system, removing the need to use a drill.

It couldn’t be simpler! Also, this Stingray will accommodate motors up to 300 HP.

  • Material: Resin
  • Mounting Kit: Yes
  • Dimensions: 20″ x 24″ x 7″
  • Weight: 5 lbs

Davis Doel-Fin Hydrofoil

Davis Doel-Fin Outboard/Outdrive Stabilizer - Black
  • Increase performance and safety
  • Increases fuel efficiency and reduce bow rise
  • Promotes fast out-of-the-hole times
  • Designed by an aeronautical engineer, Doel Fin is a true hydrofoil
  • Simple 15-minute installation, hardware included

The first thing you will notice about this Davis Doel-Fin Hydrofoil is that, unlike the one-piece models featured so far, this is a two-piece design.

It comes with a complete mounting kit, but does require some DIY skills to attach it to your outboard.

While there is no mention of the maximum size motor this hydrofoil fits, many customers have successfully bolted it to a 200 HP engine.

The other thing to note is this hydrofoil is ultra-affordable, and that’s not something I’m used to saying when it comes to boating accessories.

  • Material: Synthetic
  • Mounting Kit: Yes
  • Dimensions: 14″ x 16″ x 11″
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs

Marine Dynamics Starfire Hydrofoil

Marine Dynamics Starfire-1 Stingray Black Starfire Hydrofoil
  • Installs quickly with only 2 set screw
  • Swept-back Delta wing profile
  • Inverted concave trailing edge relieves drag
  • Patented curvature for maximum performance

This Starfire has a patented contour to produce maximum performance and is super-easy to fit to your motor.

Marine Dynamics claims there are no drill-holes needed, and it can be fitted in under five minutes.

This hydrofoil also has an inverted concave trailing edge for better drag.

If you have an outboard motor of 40 HP or above, this would be a great addition.

The Starfire is priced somewhere in the middle, so while it isn’t the bargain of the century, it won’t clean you out financially.

  • Material: Synthetic
  • Mounting Kit: Yes
  • Dimension: 21.5″ x 2″ x 20″
  • Weight: 2.98 lbs

Attwood Outboard Hydrofoil

Attwood Outboard Motor Hydro-Stabilizer 9401-7
  • Improve planing performance and stability
  • For use on outboards under 50 horsepower
  • Designed from engineered molded resins, the Hydro-Stabilizer helps to get up on plane, reduces ventilation / cavitation and poor handling
  • The Hydro-Stabilizer out-performs ordinary flat hydrofoils by reducing drag when the hull goes on plane.
  • Improves getting skiers and wakeboarders up easier and faster

Like the Doel-Fin, this Attwood model is supplied in two pieces that bolt either side of your motor. And like the Doel-Fin, it is super-affordable at a few dollars more.

What sets this apart is the design of the wings. They reduce drag, as do all hydrofoils, but the Attwood does it at lower speeds, meaning that you’ll achieve plane quicker, and it will be more sustained.

This is great news if you tow waterskiers as they will be pulled out of the hole faster.

  • Material: Molded Resin
  • Mounting Kit: Yes
  • Dimensions: 8.5″ x 12″ x 8.8″
  • Weight: 1.83 lbs

Davis Instruments Whale-Tail Hydrofoil

Davis Instruments Whale Tail XL Hydrofoil Stabilizer
  • Improves out boat or I/o performance
  • Reduces proposing and cavitation
  • Increases fuel efficiency
  • The Whale Tail XL extends out behind the prop to utilize the prop wash energy that normally is lost breaking the water. This energy is transformed to lift against the Whale Tail XL for immediate response when the throttle is applied
  • Stabilizes bow-light boats. Adds safety - when bow is down, vision is improved

Like the Stingray, this Whale-Tail Hydrofoil uses the wash from the outboard motor to enhance the lift. It does it by extending out beyond the propeller to capture the churning water.

This hydrofoil can be fitted in under 15 minutes but does require a degree of skill to achieve it.

This added lift makes it an ideal choice for boats like mine that are bow light.

  • Material: Marine Grade Aluminum
  • Mounting Kit: Yes
  • Dimension: 15.5″ x 13.5″ x 1.2″
  • Weight: 3.31 lbs

Get Yourself a Hydrofoil for Your Outboard Motor

If you care about performance, drag, handling, safety, speed and fuel economy—what are you waiting for? Go out and buy a hydrofoil. This little bit of kit will revolutionize the way you use your boat, and make it a whole lot more fun to use.

And if you aren’t interested in the speed, think about the safety. With a hydrofoil stabilizing your boat, you get a better view over the bow because of the lift. You also get less cavitation and better handling, which has to make the vessel more stable. It’s really a win-win situation!

I cannot see any downsides to fitting a hydrofoil to your outboard motor.

That’s it. I am a fan. Full stop.