Trim Tabs & Hydrofoils
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Trim tabs and hydrofoils help to optimize boat performance.
Trim tabs and hydrofoils help to improve a powerboat’s fuel efficiency, safety and overall performance.
What do trim tabs do?
Trim tabs are stainless steel plates that bolt to the transom of boats just below the water’s surface. Trim tab installations include cylindrically shaped actuators with a ram that pushes the trim tabs down. This action deflects water downward, which causes the stern of the boat rise up and the bow to come down. This action helps boats to get on a plane more quickly and once on a plane, plane at lower speeds. The benefits of this include greater fuel efficiency and improved safety with the increased visibility gained by keeping the bow of the boat down. An additional benefit of trim tabs is that they can be controlled independently to correct for any side to side list of a boat while underway.
Types of Trim Tabs
West Marine offers hydraulic trim tabs by Bennet Marine and electric trim tabs by Lenco Marine. Each of these manufacturers offers a number of trim tab models and various trim tab controls. A third option which we suggest for inflatable boats are Nauticus trim tabs. These trim tabs utilize a nitrogen gas filled actuator that reacts to water pressure to force the boat’s bow down.
Trim Control Systems
Relatively new on the scene are Zipwake’s trim control systems. Rather than using large stainless steel plates like conventional trim tabs, Zipwake systems rely upon “interceptors” that like conventional trim tab mount to the transom of the boat. According to the manufacturer, Zipwake systems work more efficiently than conventional trim tabs to quickly get boats to plane. To better understand how these systems work, we suggest you watch the video that is included with our Zipwake product descriptions.
What are hydrofoils?
Hydrofoils are plastic fins that attach to the cavitation plate of a boat’s stern drive or outboard motor to improve the performance of stern drive and outboard powered boats. Working along with the trim of the stern drive or outboard, they deflect water downward (like the action of trim tabs described above) to raise a boat’s stern and bring the bow of the boat down. The benefits are the same as those described above for trim tabs.
Need more information?
To learn more about trim tabs we suggest you read our West Advisor article Selecting and Installing Trim Tabs.