Center Islander Chris Maas carves a turn aboard his custom-built hydrofoil catamaran.
YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’LL SEE from a little island nobody’s heard of, in a quiet month when few are around.
I was walking up our dock the other day and looked around and there was Chris Maas flying by on his hydrofoil.
Chris, co-owner with spouse Monique of Center Island’s only farm, is our resident Mr. Science. Or Mr. Greenjeans. Or both. He’s an inventor and a farmer and a sailor who can build or fix just about anything.
But quiet, and unassuming. Which is why I didn’t know he had converted a catamaran sailboat to an electrically powered hydrofoil until, well, I saw him buzzing by. Quietly.
Among other things, Chris was the world champion in canoe sailing, in the “Development Canoes” event (did you know there was a world championship in canoe sailing?), in competition held in Australia in 2008, for which he has a Wikipedia entry. Last year he launched a gorgeous wooden sailboat he built in his workshop. I happened to visit the day he was varnishing the gleaming tiller he’d fabricated out of a stave salvaged from an ancient cistern on his farm.
The hydrofoil is something he crafted in his workshop just for fun. It’s powered by an outboard motor that he adapted to run on electricity. Lifted by underwater wings similar to an aircraft’s wings, the spidery craft skims the waters of Reads Bay, off Center Island, making barely a hum.
His latest outing was to test a modification that would help the boat smoothly navigate the wakes of other passing boats.
The modification was a flop, Chris told me. So Center Island’s world champion has more tinkering to do, keeping busy in his workshop as the days get colder and quieter, on an island nobody’s heard of, where none of us really mind.
The outboard motor powering the hydrofoil is modified to run on battery power. It is lifted by underwater wings like an airplane’s.