The Q’WIK 15 is a boating system for junior sailors and families. Many boats, especially those with high performance characteristics, are prohibitively expensive for many families. This high cost is a major barrier to entry into the sport of competitive sailing and the primary issue addressed by the Q’WIK 15.
With a modular deck and hull system users are able to switch out the deck (the center area of the vessel) changing the functionality all together. Within 30 minutes Q’WIK 15 can go from high performance racing sailboat to family powerboat or rowing shell.
The Q’WIK system also combats the high price of traditional composite vessels through manufacturing. Rather than using expensive composite materials, Q’WIK employs the use of rotationally molded polypropylene for the hulls and thermoformed polypropylene for the deck, both over foamed aluminum sub-frames for structural support.
The design of the Q’WIK 15 is targeted to solve a great number of problems including ones of a cultural nature to economic issues and those concerning usability.
Culturally, sailing has two main issues. The first being retention. Annually there are 500,000 youth sailor ≤15 years old registered in the Optimist Dingy class. After these sailors age-out of the class, following their 15th birthday, they are presented with a choice: chose another sailing class, or another sport. 95% of Opti racers chose the latter and never race sailboats again. The second problem is one of attraction. Many individuals see sailing as a leisure activity and somewhat exclusive to wealthy individuals. Neither is the case in reality, but that is the general perception held by of much of the potential market.
The notion that sailing is exclusive to the upper classes is not unfounded, as the sport tends to be quite expensive. These problems were tackled mainly though developing new, inexpensive and highly automated manufacturing techniques that retained the structural integrity of techniques traditional to the field. The result is a relatively inexpensive boat, at less than $10,000. Not only does Q’WIK provide a more financially attainable sailing platform but it also introduces an element of simplicity through its deck mounted control mechanisms, which lowers the learning curve into high-performance boat racing.
Achieving a balance between price and performance was the main goal for this design project. There were emerging technologies like canting appendages, hydrofoils, and ridged wing foils, which are exciting but had to be passed on because of costs. However, the Q’WIK 15 aims to develop sailors at a higher level so that when they reach more technical classes, they are fully prepared and will excel above those who trained on other boats.