My name is Ivano Stellato. I've been sailing for over 12 years and before inflatables I sailed Albacore's, Lasers, A variety if Hobie's but mostly the Hobie 16, and on a couple of occasions a Nacra 500. I was lucky enough to sail with a 3 time Tornado Olympian who taught me a tonne and to whom I will forever be grateful and appreciative. I have also branched out into surfing, Wind Surfing and kiteboarding.
I love sailing and i love design so a few years ago I started designing portable, inflatable sailboats -- I called it "Lego for adult water lovers" Then I found MiniCat and Tiwal and became their exclusive Canadian importer. I have a wealth of experience with inflatables and can share some of what I have learned..
haha, yes they do pack up into the same bags which is more than I can say for just about everything else in life. You get much better at assembly and packing with each time. The first time takes over an hour to assemble but by the fourth time you have it down to an art and it takes about the same time as rigging an Albacore from the sailing club i used to belong to.
I always point the boat to wind and drop the main if I am on the beach for long periods or the winds are shifty but most of the time I leave it to flap away and only furl the jib.
As a seasoned sailor I love sailing the inflatables! I furl the jib, , strap into the trapeze, Hike out and sail the main and tiller, then once thats under control I unfurl the jib... its full on intense action. I liken it to driving standard versus automatic. It just makes the whole experience that much more involved. And should I ever capsize I have no problem getting the boat upright and moving again. This lets me push the edge, catch waves, do things I normally would not do with other boats.
Ive actually had horrible experiences with 3 people not being able to right a Hobie 16 and it just ruined sailing for a while for me. So having a boat thats so easy yet so engaging is really fun. Otherwise these bigger boats, without a motor boat nearby, if you get into trouble you really get into trouble.
Also, the inflatables are super tough and easy to repair. Fibre glass is easy to damage and medium to repair. Root molded is super tough but impossible to repair. Inflatable are the best for that.
Cost - if you don't own a cottage or farm where can you store a boat? You end up paying club fees or storage fees and in 10 years it equals the cost of a boat.
I think inflatables make a great option for a wide range of uses. You can even put a motor on the transom! This is why I stated designing my own models and invested heavily in importing European models.
I love all sailboats. If I won a Ferraro I would never say no to driving a Lamborghini. SO I think its great that there are lots of models and designs to choose from. So while i think One design is great from a racing purist, man to man, sailor to sailor, competition, I crave for open classes and the ability to tinker with a boat just like people tinker with cars and race them.
Downsides to inflatables? At the end of a long day of sailing I hate de-rigging... but that applies to any boat
Please let me know if you have any questions and Id be happy to answer ... or to take you out on an inflatable if anyone wants to try one out for themselves.
Exclusive Canadian distributor for MiniCat, Tiwal, Takacat and X-Cat