The Q'WIK 15 is a boating system for junior sailors and families. Many boats, especially those with high performance characteristics, are prohibitively expensive for many families. This high cost is a major barrier to entry into the sport of competitive sailing and the primary issue addressed by the Q'WIK 15.
With a modular deck and hull system, users are able to switch out the deck (the center area of the vessel) completely changing the functionality. Within 30 minutes, Q'WIK 15 can go from high performance racing sailboat to a family powerboat or rowing shell.
The Q'WIK system also combats the high price point of traditional composite vessels through manufacturing. Rather than using expensive composite materials, Q'WIK employs the use of rotationally molded polypropylene for the hulls and thermoformed polypropylene for the deck, both over foamed aluminum sub-frames for structural support.
John Gray Parker
The design of the Q'WIK 15 is targeted to solve a great number of problems including ones of a cultural nature to economic issues and those concerning usability.
Culturally, sailing has two main issues. The first being retention. Annually there are 500,000 youth sailor =15 years old registered in the Optimist Dingy class. After these sailors age-out of the class, following their 15th birthday, they are presented with a choice: chose another sailing class, or another sport. 95% of Opti racers chose the latter and never race sailboats again. The second problem is one of attraction. Many individuals see sailing as a leisure activity and somewhat exclusive to wealthy individuals. Neither is the case in reality, but that is the general perception held by much of the potential market.
The notion that sailing is exclusive to the upper classes is not unfounded, as the sport tends to be quite expensive. These problems were tackled mainly though developing new, inexpensive and highly automated manufacturing techniques that retained the structural integrity of techniques traditional to the field. The result is a relatively inexpensive boat, at <$10,000. Not only does Q'WIK provide a more financially attainable sailing platform but it also introduces an element of simplicity through its deck mounted control mechanisms, which lowers the learning curve into high-performance boat racing.
Achieving a balance between price and performance was the main goal for this design project. There were emerging technologies like canting appendages, hydrofoils, and ridged wing foils which are exciting but had to be passed on because of costs. However, the Q'WIK 15 aims to develop sailors at a higher level so that when they reach more technical classes, they are fully prepared and will excel above those who trained on other boats.
Designing for manufacturability was a key challenge in the design process for the Q'WIK 15. We were unable to find a precedent for rotational molding over a skeletal sub-frame but proved the process viable through small scale testing. The decision to go the route of using plastics and foamed aluminum sub-frames was made because the processes can be highly automated. Less expensive materials and labor costs were key objectives in achieving a lower price point.
Construction of the full-scale functional prototype was also a key design challenge. We decided early on not to include the "knuckle" (where the deck and hulls meet) as a removable piece. Rather, the prototype serves not as a validation for the modular concept but for usability and performance characteristics. A team of seven students was responsible for the construction of the prototype in difference phases. Only two of these students had prior experience with composite materials so the learning curve was steep.
Through research we were unable to find a precedent for roto-molding over a skeletal sub-frame. This process where long fiber composite fibers are infused with thermoplastics and roto-molded around a skeletal sub-frame of foamed aluminum is completely unique and novel. The process should achieve an end product only slightly heavier than those that would be created using traditional composite hand layup techniques and vacuum infusion, but with similar structural properties.
The primary user group, which includes teenagers and young adults ages 13-23, benefits from the Q'WIK 15's balance between high performance sailing characteristics and intuitive, easy-to-learn control systems. With flexibility provided by the modular nature of the Q'WIK 15 the user group grows to include their families as well. These other family members are able to enjoy the pleasures of aquatic life through sailing, motor-boating, or rowing with the Q'WIK System.
The Q'WIK 15 is designed to be easily repaired by adding melted polypropylene and sanding smooth, thus extending the life of the product. However, end of life was also a key point of attention in deciding on materials. Both aluminum and polypropylene are easily recycled, and as they melt at different temperatures, the process of breaking the product down can be done with ease.
The primary target market for the Q'WIK 15 is coastal Americans. We intend to serve this market through multiple distribution centers on each coast as well as employing regional specialized retailers. Road crews will also travel to regattas in each time zone with demo boats and boats for sale. At major class events, Q'WIK 15s will be available for charter for those traveling long distances internationally. These charter boats will be available for purchase at reduced rates following events.
The hulls will be constructed using rotationally molded polypropylene around a foamed aluminum skeletal sub-frame. This manufacturing process will be highly automated.
Also highly automated, the deck will be manufactured using thermoformed polypropylene sheet over a foamed aluminum skeletal sub-frame. The mast, centerboards and rudders are made from extruded aluminum with compression molded composite caps. The boom, tiller and tiller pivot arm will be manufactured using carbon fiber vacuum infused with epoxy resin. All other hardware will be externally sourced.
Great work, beautiful boat...There was a lot of versatility to this...I imagine a great path in front of these guys that were able to pull something like this together.