The TIWAL 3.2 is an inflatable sailing dinghy that can be assembled or packed down into two bags in a little under 20 minutes. According to its creators the dinghy is a "high performance" sailing vessel with a multi-purpose design that not only allows families and first time sailors to experience the joys of sailing in calm weather, but also lets expert sailors test their limits.
Weighing around 50 kg (111 lb), the TIWAL 3.2 features a patented V-shaped under body that makes the dinghy both rigid and stable when inflated. Reinforced with a tubular aluminum frame that allows it to handle strong wind speeds, the boat is light enough to be carried by two adults, once it's assembled. At 3.2 m (10.5 ft) in length, the dinghy comes equipped with a 5.2 sq m (56 sq ft) sail ,which performance junkies can upgrade to a larger 7 sq m (75 sq ft) version if desired. The sailing experience, the company says, is quite different from sailing a regular dinghy.
"You've had sailing dinghies on the market for decades," Tiwal's co-founder Emmanuel Bertrand tells Gizmag. "But most of them are regular ribs with a sail. They can't reach the planing speed, and their sailing performance is very limited."
The long saber-shaped daggerboard of the TIWAL 3.2 not only makes it behave like a traditional dinghy, but also gives it excellent upwind and downwind sailing abilities, claims Bertrand. Sailors can expect to reach planning speeds of up to 12 knots (13 mph/22 km/h). "No other inflatable sailing dinghy comes close to half that speed," he says.
Co-founder and designer Marion Excoffon, along with the Tiwal team, set out to create a family boat for leisure sailing, which was simple to navigate, light enough to carry around, stable on water and fun to sail for the whole family. Once they strengthened the structure to enable the boat to endure strong winds, they were pleasantly surprised to discover that it turned out to be a good sailing boat for experienced sailors, too, enabling high performance solo use.
Currently, the boat can fit either two adults or one adult with two kids. "This is a great advantage over other sailing boats," Bertrand explains. "Usually you have boats for one adult or boats for two adults or boats for kids. With our two different sail sizes you can use the boat in various passenger configurations. To have a sailing dinghy that can both fit in two bags and offer high performance was a real breakthrough."
According to the company, first time sailors can learn to sail in about 3 hours, at low wind speeds. Sailors will only need to handle the main sheet and tiller extension to steer. The boomless sail and high clearance is said to make it safer and permits a lot of mobility on deck. It's also claimed easier to right than a regular sailing dinghy; sailors will only need to push the underwater wing down with their feet while pulling on the daggerboard, if the dinghy happens to capsize.
The TIWAL 3.2, which recently won the Best Innovation award at the 2014 Boat of The Year contest by US magazine Sailing World, along with the 58 sq ft sail is priced at US$5,950; the 75 sq ft sail can be purchased for an additional $1,200.
The two videos below show how it performs as both a family sailing boat and a competitive water sports boat.