Australia is home to 23 million people, give or take a few. Most of those people live in the cities which polka-dot this beautiful coastline of ours, and even more of them live in tiny apartments around those cities. So how are Aussies meant to enjoy the great Australian dream of getting out onto the water that surrounds our glorious nation? Meet Quickboats: an Aussie-built boat that packs flat into the size of a stand up paddleboard within one minute.
This week, thanks to AHM Insurance, Gizmodo Australia is travelling around the country to find the best adventure rides invented and influenced by Aussies. From foldable boats to water jetpacks: we've got it all.
Quickboats started like most incredible inventions: in someone's backyard. In 2001, Gavin Ager had the concept for a foldable boat, and fully realised his idea in 2005 when he patented the technology.
The idea Gavin patented is nothing short of revolutionary: the Quickboat is made from super-strong Armor Skin panels, all secured by Kevlar hinges to make it light and strong. The model we tested was a prototype, which meant that some of the components had even come straight off a 3D-printer. It's the future of boating that can be hung on your garage wall or even kept under your bed.
All you need to do is attach your own motor after you've constructed it, and you've got a 3.7 x 1.7m wide boat that can travel in enclosed waters up to 20 knots (37km/h with a 9.8hp motor). No trailer, mooring or wharf required.
We didn't believe it for a second, so we went down to beautiful Balmoral beach in Sydney to bet the Quickboats guys that they couldn't assemble a boat you could belt around the Harbour on in less than one minute, and boy were we surprised. The sun beat down on the beach as the Quickboats staffers did their work, and without fail, a boat materialised before our very eyes all in under 60 seconds.
"Surely," I said, "this will sink the second you put it near water," I challenged. James Graham, general manager of Quickboats, bet me that it wouldn't, and was so confident that he said I should come out in the Quickboat, fully-clothed. We shook hands, and gingerly I leapt into the craft and immediately was astounded by how sturdy it felt. I have been on tinnies that felt more unstable. Before I knew it, we were off.
The engine roared into life and propelled my new friend and I to speeds that would get you from one side of Sydney Harbour to the other in no time. And to think, three minutes ago, the boat that I was now standing up and speeding across Balmoral in was in several easy to carry pieces on a beach that now looked like a blip in the distance.
The wind rushes through your hair, the sun beats down on your skin and the spray of the ocean tickles your face like you're riding a real boat. The Quickboat is a real boat: it's the boat of the future, right now, and I'm not the only one to be immensely impressed by the foldable future of boating, however.
In 2006, Quickboats was bought out by an aerospace company called Quickstep Holdings. It then went on to appear on an episode of ABC's The New Inventors — a show for up and coming Aussie creations — and won its episode. Quite rightly, as it's one of the coolest things they'd ever seen.
Quickboats as a business has only one product, but still it continues to wow investors. They have raised over $1 million in capital and scored $65,000 in funding from ordinary Australians on crowdfunding website Indiegogo.
The Quickboat got so much attention on Indiegogo that people all around the world started to take notice. The first Quickboat to be sold was shipped straight to the customer's doorstep in Amsterdam: a city where canals, boating and tiny houses are part of every day life. Quickboats are also set to be popular in the Asian region where owning a boat is like owning a car in suburbia.
Just as Quickboats are shipped gloablly, the incredible company of the same name also operates globally. There are only three full-time employees at the company based in Perth, and the company's 28 contractors are based around the world in Thailand, Ireland, Amsterdam and Sydney.
We pull up to the shore and leap out, yanking the insanely light Quickboat out of the water with us. In less than the time it took to erect, the Quickboat is back in a bag no larger than a big surfboard, and it's back onto the roofracks of an ordinary sedan.
The Quickboat democratises the future of boating, so that now the masses can get out onto the water, all thanks to one Aussie genius in his shed.
Tune in tomorrow to see the next instalment of Gizmodo's Adventure Rides series, thanks to AHM Insurance.