Aussie-designed folding boat safe, stable, slick and quick

Australian-designed, the clever Quickboat is making waves worldwide. We finally got our chance to test the folding craft on Pittwater last weekend.

Australian-designed, the clever Quickboat is making waves worldwide. We finally got our chance to test the folding craft on Pittwater last weekend.

At 3.7 metres long, the flat-pack Quickboat is a great alternative to a tinnie. The transom is rated for an outboard engine weighing up to 30 kilograms. We had a Parsun 9.8hp model on test.

The folding boat concept isn't new, with more than 100,000 of the United States-made Porta-Botes sold in about 40 years, but there is always room for improvement, and the Quickboat is a beamier, more stable and refined alternative. We're told more than $1 million was invested in the design.

Partners James Graham and Deryck Graham formed Quickboats and bought some existing folding-boat drafts in Western Australia. But they turned to Design + Industry in Balmain, Australia's largest and most-awarded industrial designers, to advance the concept.

Besides their own monetary investment, the partners went to a crowd-funding site with the intention of raising $20,000. They achieved that in 24 hours and eventually raised $60,000.

Everyone, it seems, is jumping on board and several hundred Quickboats have been sold.

Australian buyers will have to wait until March 2014 for delivery. At the same time, the Quickboat is targeting global markets, with discussions under way with various Asian governments. We're also told new models will be launched in 2014, along with a raft of accessories.

An OEM watersports company in Thailand manufactures the Quickboat. The composite hull panels are basically the same as what is used to make surfboards, windsurfers and kiteboards. Repairs, should you ever need them, are no more complicated than a ding repair.

The light but strong closed-cell foam and fibreglass construction certainly result in a boat that is portable, with the bonus of positive buoyancy in the event of being swamped, but Quickboat's high freeboard, greater than that of an equivalent length tinnie, and its wide 1.7-metre beam, contribute to a safe, stable and dry boat.

Transporting the Quickboat with a standard sedan is akin to travelling with a few surfboards, says Quickboat.

The entire boat packs down into two separate bags measuring 3.6 by 0.7 by 0.13 metres and weighing 36kg; and 1.5 by 1.2 by 0.08 metres and weighing 18kg.

Two people easily lifted the main hull bag from the roof and carried it to the ramp. I started the stopwatch and the whole assembly process took just over two minutes from go to whoa. With just eight parts and a positive click action, anyone can throw the Quickboat together and disassemble it at the end of the day.

The foredeck features a net on its underside for carrying gear and two big rubber handles that make lifting and launching a snap. The rubber-backed cross-thwart seats are kind on the derriere, and the boat has a four-adult capacity.

Quickboat went to some lengths to ensure top performance under power. The sharp forefoot and V do a nice job of cutting through the chop, while the W-shaped keel area aids directional stability. The flat run back aft ensures that the boat scoots to planing speed and, within no time, the three of us were dashing about Pittwater.

The claim with two adults on board and 9.8hp is 22 knots. Off the throttle, the Quickboat has a fast drift rate, but there's a groove and cleat on the foredeck for anchoring.

A range of accessories is imminent - rowlocks, rod holders, a shade top and a beach-lift kit.

The Quickboat was on show at the recent Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. It's a ready-made solution to Sydney's boat-storage woes, needing no trailer and able to be hung from a wall or plonked on an apartment balcony, or even put in the bedroom if you're lucky. It's also reasonable buying, from $4375 for the boat only.

More at quickboats.com.

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