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What Is Boat Planing?

Boat planing refers to a specific mode of operation in which a boat rides on top of the water rather than plowing through it. When a boat is planing, it reaches a speed at which hydrodynamic forces allow it to rise up and skim across the water's surface, reducing drag while increasing speed and maneuverability. 

The transition to planing typically occurs when the boat reaches a certain speed and shape of the hull, along with the force of the water passing underneath, creates lift. Planing boats have hull designs that are specifically optimized for this mode of operation, featuring a flatter or modified V-shaped bottom, reduced wettted surface area, and sometimes the inclusion of planing surfaces or hydrofoils.

Boat planing is most commonly associated with powerboats, including speedboats, sport boats, and some fishing boats. However, certain sailboats with planing hull designs or multihull configurations, such as catamarans, can also achieve planing speeds under certain conditions. 

What are the advantages of boat planing?

In general, a boat that is planing can go faster with less power, increasing fuel efficiency.  Boating "on plane" with the assistance of a hydrofoil increases boat safety with less bow rise, better visibility, and steadier turns. For example, water ski boats are designed to get on plane quickly and maintain a steady speed. 

How can I enhance my boat's planing?

You can use a hydrofoil that is mounted to a motor, like the Davis Doel-Fin. Hydrofoils work by providing lift to the boat's hull as the boat gains speed. Hydrofoils redirect the water flow downward, reducing resistance and bringing the boat on plane faster. Because most of the lift is provided to the stern of the boat, hydrofoils also prevent bow rise. Hydrofoils like Doel-Fin are popular with water skiers because they give water skiers faster "out-of-the-hole" time.

Definition of Marine Terms - Full List