After being heavily involved in the sailing industry for over a decade I have seen many claims of what exactly the future of the sailing industry will be. First there was the massive expansion of the cruising catamaran, but they were far too expensive to be rolled out to the masses. Then came the sporty trimarans, but again the cost of these boats are a tough pill to swallow. Right now there are two big advancements in the sailing world that are taking root; the highly touted and revered foiling sailboats, this technology has been applied to everything from the famous Moth to 100' foiling multi hulls that can sail in excess of 70 miles per hour; and, the ultra portable, ultra affordable inflatable hulled sailboats, these boats allow people from all walks of life to sail at almost a moment's notice with next to zero upkeep and even less worry about storage.
After the implementation of the "frozen snot" (fiberglass) material for boat hulls, it seemed like the monohull would dominate the sailing industry forever, but little did they know that cruising catamarans would soon be the belle of the ball. Cruising catamarans offered a shallow draft, a lack of leaning, and brought a lot of comforts from home and put them in a super expensive package on the water. Cruising catamarans were so expensive that the only two types of people that could purchase new ones were 1%ers or charter companies. This was definitely not the answer to keeping the sailing industry alive.
Starting in the late 80's sporty trimarans came flooding into the market with new designs by famous designers like Ian Farrier, Chris White, and Dick Newick. These trimarans were often trailerable and could reach speeds in excess of 20 knots all while sailing level and in winds that would send most monohulls to call the Coast Guard for rescue. Again the issue with these boats were you either had to build them yourself, which took forever and cost a fortune, or to purchase them prebuilt you had to sell both kidneys and your first born. This was more the direction people were looking, but still cost prohibitive to the average sailor, especially younger sailors.
The foiling sailboat came onto the scene in the late 2000's. This was astonishing to see a sailboat pass a speedboat and completely trounce the previous sailboat speed records. The sailing charateristics were very favorable, when up on foils there was no wave action to be felt, just a smooth ride and a blistering pace. This technology has been applied to famous boats such as the Moth, but let's be honest, if you aren't a professional racer the foiling Moth is still a bit out of your price range at $22,000+, and that doesn't include shipping or the trailer! While the foiling is great for the Olympics and for the professionals, not everyone wants to sail at 70 miles an hour, sailing for the most of us is hours of relaxation with seconds of excitement. They are also oh so cost prohibitive, and we still have this whole trailer issue.
I wanted to step aside and give my .02 about how much I dislike trailers. Trailers are a huge liability, they can come off of your hitch, they make merging into traffic a nightmare. I understand they have a place, but when I want to go sailing, I don't want to have to fend off evil looks from power boaters as I take forever to set up my mast on the trailer before backing down the boat ramp. Frankly I don't like having something else to maintain, isn't the maintenance on a boat enough? Trailers are a learned skill, when I am trying to learn how to sail a boat, I don't want to have to stress out about how I have to back up that trailer down a skinny boat ramp in order to get my boat back out of the water. In this day and age trailing your sailboat just isn't a solution that is for the masses!
This brings us, finally, to inflatable sailboats. Since you made it to our humble site, you might find us a bit biased towards inflatable, ultra-portable sailboats. Hang in with me as I make my points, and you will find that our bias can easily justified as just plain old logic!
Inflatable sailboats allow anyone to own a sailboat without the added cost of a trailer, and/or storage fees from a marina or storage facility. Your neighbors will never complain about you keeping your sailboat in your hall closet! A lot of our customers have apartments or condos and want to sail on their very own sailboat, not a rented boat where they have to conform to the rental companies schedule.
Have you ever gone on vacation and wanted to go sailing once you go there, say for your cousin's wedding in Hawaii? Well if you own an inflatable sailboat, you can! Just check the boat with your luggage at the airport and you will have your very own sailboat when you arrive! We are fortunate enough to be conveniently located near the Chesapeake Bay, but sometimes we would like to vacation in places like Belize or participate in regattas in France or Italy, well this is no problem for these ultra-portable boats.
A huge benefit to keeping your boat in the closet is not limited to storage alone, the sun (hopefully) doesn't shine in your closet, so when your boat is not in the water being used, it is not degrading, collecting barnacles or bird droppings as it sits at rest not being used. This allows you to use your boat when it is convenient. I remember when I owned a Pearson 26 (a 26 foot frozen snot sailboat) I felt obligated to use it every weekend, sometimes foregoing other obligations because after I paid the marina the slip fees, and scrubbed the bottom, I had to use it as much as possible to get a "return" on my money.
I wish I knew about the option of inflatable sailboats when I started purchasing used boats that required countless dollars worth of repairs. After attending the United States Sailboat Show one year and saw that simple 17' sailboats on trailers were in excess of $20,000 I decided to settle on someone's grandfather's boat that needed 15 years worth of maintenance before I would trust it with my safety. If I only knew that I could purchase a brand new boat with a warranty for under $8,000!
As a shoestring sailor that doesn't have thousands of dollars each month of expendable income, an inflatable sailboat makes so much sense. This is a type of sailboat that truely is the future of sailing! The ability to inexpensively get a sailboat in nearly every household, have sailboat races with the whole neighborhood. That is something that looks more like a future than a dream!