With the introduction and subsequent "hype" around the Quant 23, QuantBoats quickly made it into the group of companies that are also globally named when it comes to "innovation" in sailing.
However, it was clear to ourselves that the Quant 23 and the European Yacht Award in January 2016 was just a continuation of what Hugh Welbourn developed with the Quant 28 and Quant30 on our initiative, long before the Q23.
The award we received was a testament to the fact that we had dared and achieved something truly new. Not everyone agreed with our statement that we had created a "foiler for the sailing public" with the Quant23.
But the enthusiasm prevailed and that led to a buzz in the press (Spiegel-Online even made the award ceremony worth a front page). This helped us to get a lot of attention from all sides (see also 2015-2016). People started to be interested in how we came up with this solution in the first place, or what we were doing before the 23.
We therefore felt compelled for the first time to take stock and consider what further development might look like. Apart from the goal of marketing the "excellent" Quant23.
What did we want to do with the new awareness and what could we even create as a micro company in the future? We decided to use the "advantage of the hour" to get a few steps closer to our actual corporate goal of enabling foiling to a much broader target group.
Since these days we underline our logo therefore also with formula "sailing redefined".
We were all convinced that foiling had a future. Not only young sailors were fascinated by the idea, but also older ones. But for the time being it was all about "getting a taste". Most of them regarded their first contact with the sport of foiling as an experiment. The thought of buying a foiler initially germinated at most with the "bravest".
The question therefore arose as to which device these potential newcomers would need.
The Quant23 is - if handled correctly - without any doubt suitable for beginners and also for training purposes. On the other hand, it is a "real boat" with all the consequences for its owners, not only in financial terms, but also in terms of the whole shebang with mooring, crew, scheduling, etc.
Perhaps the ideal boat for beginners would be a simple single-handed boat that offers the owner the freedom to go on the water at any time and without much effort? And not only on the home turf but also on other tempting waters thanks to easy transport.
Owning a boat today seems to be a stressful situation for many.
Sports equipment, on the other hand, is bought willingly and also spontaneously. We assumed that this collective term would also include small, light sailboats. Simpler and much more affordable boats than a Q23 is.
It seemed natural to us that when someone ventures an experiment, a cheaper device is preferred to a more expensive - but also more complex - one.
For this reason, we set out to find out if what we had had in mind and fit into our product philosophy already existed.
In this context I thought of Dr. Ian Ward. He is the inventor of the Centre-Line Foil-System and the first person who "flew" with it in a controlled manner. It was installed in a Moth.
I had already been in contact with him for other reasons and I knew his attitude to the subject. He had set himself an interesting goal, which corresponded very well with our own. He developed a foil set for the laser.
Like us, he wanted to make foiling accessible to ordinary sailors and away from the aloof professional circus. He saw the universal image of the laser and the current spread of boats worldwide as an opportunity.
We discussed intensively about all possible concepts suitable for beginners. It was about size, hull shape, foil system and of course also about the practical implementation and the costs.
We soon discovered that Ian, with his longtime friend and shipyard owner.
Jim French (now "Skeetafoilingcraft" in Melbourne) - also a Mothie - had been considering the subject for some time. With a view to our "Quant 23 Initiative", they both felt that the time had come to offer the sailing public a suitable boat that was as good-natured and flexible as possible.
Many emails and phone calls later, we received an invitation from them at the end of 2016 to sail the prototype of a "Volksfoiler" based on a Moth in scow shape.
Roger - a long-time friend of mine and a key figure in the QuantBoats project - and I packed up our Neos in February 2016 and flew "downunder".
The prototype was a Scow - already similar to the later Skeeta. The rigging was similar in size and geometry to that of a Moth. It was flown on two small foils, which were placed in the fuselage on the starboard and port side. A rudder foil stabilized the rear.
The idea was striking - the windward foil should be able to be lifted with a mechanism after take-off - as is the case with the Kats and also the Quant 23. This minimized drag and the lift of the leefoil not only lifted the boat, but also provided righting momentum.
The boat was fast thanks to the small foils and Roger and I had no trouble foiling from one side of the bay to the other in a controlled manner. We were pleased with the boat and the system and for the beginning of 2016, the approach was already very suitable.
A few months after our return we learned that the bi-foil concept had been shelved because it sailed well straight ahead but the manoeuvres were a nuisance. In addition, the performance in the wind was rather modest, because - due to the system - you only sailed with little windward heel. In addition, the mechanism that was supposed to move the foils up and down did not work well enough for a one-man boat.
At the beginning of the second half of 2017, news reached us from Australia. The bi-foil system was replaced by a centre-line system. The altitude control was taken over by a "wall" (sensor), as known from Moth and Waszp. The striking unique selling point - the scow shape of the fuselage - remained and was further refined.
A first near-production boat was announced for early 2018 and linked to the question whether we were still interested in being part of it? With the blessing of Max Schmid - QuantBoats partner and managing director - I travelled once again to Australia to experience the first "Skeeta", as she was now officially called.
The boat was the result of further tireless development work and - measured against our requirements for such a boat - it functioned exceptionally well and displayed those characteristics which were soon to pave the way for many sailors to enter the sport of foiling.
Our Australian colleagues and partners had clearly made the right decision and realized an amazing concept.
It was new, groundbreaking, and it fit 100% with our aspirations - to make foiling much more accessible to everyone who wanted to learn and experience something new - than it had been before.
After diligent foiling diplomacy with my partners Max and Andy halfway around the world, I was authorized to purchase the entire first year's production of the pre-production model. At the same time, QuantBoats was tasked with introducing and launching the Skeeta to the public in Europe. Around March 20, 2018, we received the first snow-white Skeeta by air. We gave the boat a striking look that would look good in photos and travelled to Lake Garda for the first time at the beginning of April - the other areas were still in hibernation.
Apparently we solved the task of presenting the Skeeta to the public well, because the first photos and articles appeared almost simultaneously in publications and websites throughout Europe and even worldwide. And the target group seemed to be enthusiastic.
It quickly became clear that the time had come for "people's filers", provided they would not be too demanding for beginners in terms of technical complexity, controllability and acquisition costs.
It is never easy to sell new boats, all the more so if they are also supposed to herald or establish a new era, so to speak. This didn't seem to be the case with the Skeeta - for most of those who were considering buying one, the desire to "fly" outweighed the reluctance to buy a potentially immature product.
The thesis that a smaller, simpler foiler like the Skeeta would attract an astonishingly large target group to try the "foiling experiment" was confirmed.
The concept was well received. The first weak points of a technical nature were discovered and eradicated. The 2018 season was a pretty lively one for us - especially since the manufacturers' readiness to deliver did not meet our customers' expectations.
Overall, however, it quickly became clear that the Skeeta had a future. These signals from faraway Europe, in turn, were the basis for the decision by "Skeeta-foilingcraft" in Melbourne to further develop the boat into a genuine and far cheaper production boat - and for us it became clear that as a result we would have to wait again and even longer for "supplies" for our impatient clientele. On the other hand, the decision was right, we had to admit.
After 2018, 2019 was also what we call a lost year in commercial terms: there was brisk demand that we were unable to satisfy. Day-to-day business was manageable and we therefore invested a lot of time in structural or strategic tasks.
Even during the first few days of sailing with beginners, we realised that serious interest in buying correlates strongly with the possibility of not only being able to look at the Skeeta, but also to try it out.
So what we urgently needed at first - contrary to the assumption of some "consultants" - was not a dealer network, but "multipliers": In this case, institutions such as sailing schools, clubs, holiday resorts with sailing departments, etc., but also individuals who are able not only to present and explain the boat and its systems, but also to offer practical lessons.
Anyone who tackles this task properly no longer has to do a great deal of convincing, because the product speaks for itself. This is what we know today about the suitability of the Skeeta when it comes to broadening the base of foiling sailors. Our potential "multipliers" had to have a Skeeta, be able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the subject matter and be at a location that was "suitable for training".
In the organization of Heinz Stickl (www.stickl.com) in Malcesine on the wind-safe and holiday-suitable Lake Garda, we already had "a foot in the door" with a Quant23 since 2017. Heinz, as a very good sailor and careful observer of the development, had understood very early on that foiling is on the rise, because - simply put - it is the kind of windsport that fits best into our technology-loving times, in which terms like "speed" and "efficiency" are part of the daily vocabulary and in wide circles an inherent "love of technology" can be observed.
The Skeeta was a highly desirable addition at Stickl because it was able to quickly demonstrate the advantages in the area of "entry-level foiling" compared to the Waszp in service. Confirmation that the strategy chosen was the right one soon came in the form of a number of enquiries from interested parties who came into contact with the Skeeta at Stickl.
The effort to find more partners is now a constant work and there are signs that some of them will also start their own sales activity over time, which we see as a great advantage.
The topic "Foils" is still very new for many - we are happy to share our knowledge and experience with you.