Most rod builders have interests in addition to custom rod building. I’ve always had too many. There just hasn’t been enough hours in the day to get around to all the various things I’ve found interesting and been involved in. I suspect most rod builders, obviously having a creative bent, have the same trouble.


Occasionally I’ve been able to see a project through to fruition. Recently, I bought a piece of history and have spent the past few months laboriously rebuilding it to near new condition. And over the past couple weeks, I’ve been able to use it as it was originally intended.


The Trifoiler was the end result of Dan and Greg Ketterman’s endeavor to set the world speed sailing record. Their original design, Longshot, was operated by Russell Long in obtaining four individual world records including the Class A record of 50.1 MPH, which still stands.

Very few of the production models were ever built and sold, and fewer remain in active service. The few that are left rarely come up for sale and when or if they do, can be a bit pricey. It is a highly complicated and somewhat fragile craft that was designed to do only one thing – go very fast. It is not very practical and being more like an airplane than a boat, it does not suffer fools lightly. I have been on the foils about two dozen times now and each time have been astounded at the power, acceleration and speed this thing can generate from the wind. Once it gets up, it literally tries to run out from under you.


With few parts still available it was necessary to make most of what was needed. I’m not going to bother to tally the hours I spent making and machining individual parts and pieces. Rebuilding and resculpting the fences on the foil leading edges took over a week of solid work alone. But all that is behind me now, unless and until something breaks, which is quite likely.


With summer fully upon us and the back of the shop getting rather hot, the next project will be undertaken mostly at night when things are a bit cooler. Maybe I’ll even get around to putting together those last few rods I started back in the winter.


Tom Kirkman