In the early 2000s, I changed boats at relatively short intervals. I am talking about sport boats. Somehow I was not really happy with any of them - even if the regatta results were ok.
This concerned me more and more and I began to think about the background:
I think that my "frustration" at that time had something to do with the fact that I didn't set foot on a sailboat for 12 years, but spent almost all my free time on windsurfers and witnessed their development. You steer these devices with the sail, with your feet and with weight shifting. For wrong adjustments and other mistakes you get the receipt immediately.
What I liked best was the speed and the handling of the apparent wind, with only the bare minimum underfoot. With boats I was now obviously looking for something comparable: I think the adjective "agile" aptly describes the sailboats, for which I became increasingly enthusiastic. With acrobatics, however, I have and had nothing to do.
Good advice was expensive and my many sailing magazines gave nothing in this respect, because for various reasons I did not want an extreme construction, a catamaran or a Libera. In our crew we discussed oWe were happy to talk about the "perfect sport boat" but we couldn't think of anything more than the usual optimisation measures.
I think it was July 2008 when I came across a sketch. It suggested mounting a foil on the leeward side of the boat so that when the boat is moving fast - i.e. when it is blowing - lift is created on the wing and this is transferred to the boat as a righting moment. So a wing should take over the previous work of the ballast in the keel?
It made sense to me. But I was also a little ashamed. I could have come up with the idea myself - others did, too.
But I quickly found out that only the basic idea of this story is simple, but the rest is highly complex. And that in turn also explained why this facility did not yet exist. At least I was smart enough to react immediately and track down the originator of the idea. Thanks to the Internet, this first step was the easiest and so the story took its course.
Here you can the exciting story of QuantBoats self Track.
I was already friends with Max Schmid at that time. He was the only one who had the courage or the foolhardiness to join in this adventure. He had a shipyard, a lot of experience and he was enthusiastic - just like me. So together we founded QuantBoats. I may have been the driving force but without him QuantBoats wouldn't exist. I wouldn't have started this journey alone and now, almost 13 years later, I know why.
Sport has always been a topic for me. Be it to do it myself, or to watch. Elegance and speed fascinated me as much as strength and endurance. In my younger years, I enjoyed the disciplines of gymnastics, skiing and skydiving.
I came to water sports through friends. My first engagement was as a crew on a "Lightning". Also because we harmonized well as a team, this sport has not let me go. Probably also because sporting ability and technical understanding of the equipment are mutually dependent. You can't have one without the other. That challenged me as an athlete and engineer.
In 1977 I therefore turned my hobby into a profession and first as managing director and then as sole owner of the shipyard
Bucher & Schmid AG.
This enabled me to deal more intensively with the subject matter and over the years I have managed to build up a large partner network and thus a great deal of know-how in almost all relevant areas, both nationally and internationally. Especially in times of rapid technical changes, one is dependent on specialists if one wants to successfully manage or meet the numerous requirements in boat building and boat trading.
The industry and technology have developed strongly since the end of the 1990s and new horizons have opened up. Composite technologies in particular allowed lighter constructions that sailed faster in light winds than the previous generation of boats in much stronger winds. And in this phase it was by chance that I came into contact with my current partner Michael Aeppli through a project (run by a third party).
We immediately got along well, because for both of us the term "finished" does not exist in the context of sailboats. In particular, we were bothered by the fact that the market produced sailing boats that were advertised as "all-rounders" for a large target group, but in the end were not really good at anything. We understood that economic constraints were (also) responsible for this, but the joy and the desire to sail with it - especially mostly in light winds - did not arise for us.
I would never have thought that our trip together to southern Spain in the summer of 2008 would end up leading to the founding of a company.
Michi, while reading his many sailing magazines, discovered an invention and the name of a British designer - Hugh Welbourn. Hugh suggested using "foils" instead of tons of lead to create lightweight yet stable boats. We wanted to take a look at that.
It's fun and often the opposite, but I think I can speak for everyone involved here: Our lives did not become easier but richer with the establishment and operation of this "Start Up". And what we have achieved together as a team of a landlocked country in the last decade worldwide, first someone has to imitate us. This is what motivates me in my daily work.
I've known Michi and Max for a long time - Switzerland is small and people know each other. But you notice all the more when something extraordinary happens and you are asked to be there. That doesn't happen every day.
Initially, I was just fascinated to sail on the Quant 28 - a boat that often functioned quite differently with its foil than the "normal" sport boats we knew. The Q28 was new, light and promised a lot of potential. The fact that there were "pit stops" and work for me as a boat builder did not bother me. The reactions to the new concept were also interesting.
The "sailing world" rated our experiment from "Super" to "Superfluous".
We won almost all the regattas from the beginning and that made it increasingly difficult for the critics.
Since I've been with the team, there are always things that happen that I like to think back on. In the second season with the Quant 28, we experienced something at the start of the legendary Bol d'Or in Geneva that you never forget. As a comparatively small boat, we led the field of almost 500 boats after the start, in ultra-light conditions - catamarans included. Donna Bertarelli left us "in the spotlight" for half an hour before she managed to pass us on her D35, while the first monohull (a 47 foot Libera) took a full 2 hours. The tow of spectator boats behind our stern was new for us and disturbed our concentration.
We finished the long regatta of about 22 hours with our 8.5m boat on the 7th place of about 450 monohulls. For many very surprising.
I decided then never to sail slow boats again.
From the Quant 28 we developed (as always with Hugh Welbourn) the Quant 30 - a more civilian version of the Q28 with a bi-foil system. A challenge on this narrow and open boat was the organisation of the layout and the development of a more flexible sail plan. Several trips to the shipyard in England offered interesting insights and new acquaintances.
What I like about QuantBoats is the way they incorporate experience into the next project. For example, the Quant 28 showed us that foils - used correctly - are a powerful tool.
And after "Semi-Foiling" followed in our logic the "Full-Foiling" and with it the Quant 23. The first foiling yacht, which already won the most important European yacht award as a prototype, made us known worldwide. Interesting in this project, were the modifications that led from the prototype to the series boat.
Sailing this new apparatus with scow shape was undoubtedly another highlight. During one of the first trials on our home turf, I was thrown out of the boat during a gybe. We totally underestimated the lateral acceleration at the beginning.
The Quant 23 is simply an ingenious boat that can actually do everything and is also controllable for "normal" sailors. I know of no other sports boat that is fast in light winds, takes off very early as a foiler and manages up to 28kts in more wind - if you are brave.
In the episode, we looked at a smaller version of the Quant 23 - the Quant 17, which so far only exists as a prototype and would be another story worth telling.
It was clear to us that foils have a future and that the best way for the "big masses" to get started would be with smaller, simpler and cheaper boats. That's why Michi and I flew to Australia for the first time in 2016, where we got to know the prototype of a single-handed boat with T-foils.
These people wanted the same thing as us: "Fast sailing for amateurs"!
This is how what we successfully launched in Europe as the "Skeeta" in April 2018 was born. Today, the Skeeta is in demand and almost always sold out and is a household name globally - the second boat after the Q23. As far as I can tell, we all achieved a lot together on a relatively small budget because we made few mistakes. You can be a little proud of that.
I made my first (self-)attempt at "nautics" - at the age of 10 - on a "rubber boat", which I upgraded to a "sailing boat" by means of a bamboo pole and cut open plastic bags. I did not get beyond a leisurely displacement ride and so I tried a "test ride" on a 420 dinghy, which opened up the next higher sphere of sailing for me: planing.
I liked that, so I entered the Finn Dinghy class and "survived" there nationally and internationally even in the roughest conditions.
In more mature years and in the middle of a hectic professional life, I became co-owner of an Esse yacht and together we cruised mainly on Lake Zurich.
As often happens, a third man was missing for a regatta. So I met Michi Aeppli, who spontaneously stepped in. It was an interesting experience - instead of one, there were now two alpha animals on board.
You guessed it - we did not become a sworn team in this composition. But I found "this Michi" interesting enough to keep meeting him and we quickly became good colleagues. I learned a lot of new things about sailing from him and one day the topic "foiling" came up. So I finally became co-owner of a new Quant 30, equipped with the then revolutionary DSS foils.
That was in a different league and I was thrilled - although full-foiling was not yet. That was yet to come.
I will never forget the first stroke on a Quant 23 - the last offspring of the QuantBoats family at that time. It was a beautiful but warm and humid summer day - and the lake was calm - but only at first. Rain showers brought gusts and they were more than strong enough to get on the foils.
Between trepidation and jubilation I flew, clinging to the cockpit floor over the lake - which seemed to me - suddenly shrank significantly. I was totally "flashed" but after this first experience also immediately addicted to more.
Consequently, I ordered a Q23. Immediately after delivery at the lower end of Lake Zurich, there was plenty of wind and we were racing straight towards the bridge at the end of the lake and it wasn't really clear to me how to stop such a boat. The bridge is still standing and the boat survived it too.
I liked the approach to foiling (it was an interesting change from my job as a medical doctor) and when I was invited by founding partners Max Schmid and Michael Aeppli to become a partner at QuantBoats, I jumped at the chance.
Since then, I have taken part in all the adventures of this crazy company in this additional role and also have increased contact with younger people and young people who have found a new or renewed entry into sailing with the sport of foiling. Even my own sons are showing interest in it again, after having given an early retirement from sailing as "Opti-Seniors".
You concentrate, the body is under tension, the mind focuses on here and now and at the end results in total relaxation and satisfaction - the everyday life stays on the shore. It is amazing!