This Genius Sailboat Packs Up Into a Carry-On
Can they give out a Nobel Prize for inspired summer fun (and awesome design)?
You’ve heard of farm to table and fin to fork. But bag to bay? That’s the alluring promise of Tiwal, a splendidly inventive little sailboat that literally packs up into two duffel bags portable enough to check as luggage on an airplane (much less stow in a vehicle) and then inflates and assembles into a navigable sailing craft.
Genius? Or the result of a frustrated daughter whose dad wouldn’t let her borrow the family sailboat?
Both, it turns out.
Marion Excoffon was that frustrated daughter, and her father’s intransigence spurred her to take matters into her own hands—and design her own sailboat. “I am not a boat designer,” the French-born founder of the company confesses. But that didn’t daunt Excoffon. “I approached the challenge from a fresh perspective,” she told SpinSheet Magazine. “The result is a product that is easy to transport, easy to set up, and easy to sail.”
Indeed. Based outside of Boston and in business since 2012, Tiwal now produces two versions of Excoffon’s dream. The latest model, the Tiwal 2 sailing dinghy (starting at $4,800), might be considered the starter model with inflatable wings that create a rounded silhouette not unlike a low-profile Zodiac. Built to support two sailors weighing up to 330 pounds total (one adult alone or one adult and one child) and assembling in 15 minutes, the Tiwal 2 packs down into two duffels of 45 and 55 pounds each.
Designed for increased performance, the Tiwal 3 small sailboat (starting at $5,400) looks more like a rigged paddleboard, with its aluminum exoskeleton. This little craft can hold two adults or one adult and two kids, maxing out at 440 pounds of sailors. The craft packs down to into two duffels of 62 pounds each and assembles in 20 minutes.
No matter the model, the numbers add up to portable adventure, whether it’s a day trip to the beach, a week on the lake, or playtime on a luxury yacht. According to the company, more than 1,000 Tiwal craft are now popping up their magic on waters in 45 countries, from San Francisco Bay to the New Zealand coast. The boat’s design has been lauded with awards in the U.S., Japan, and France. It even spent some time in the heady atmosphere of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2018.
And the Tiwal is not just a pretty face. Gina Harris and her partner Jose took a Tiwal with them on a 2015 around-the-world sail in their 43-foot Beneteau Oceanis 423. The little sailing dinghy was the perfect lightweight excursion craft once in harbor, she wrote on Couchsailors, the couple’s sailing blog. “Out of the corner of our eyes we could see our neighbors looking on curiously as we built a boat … on our boat. ‘What on earth are those kids doing?’ They’d see with their own eyes 15 minutes later exactly what we were up to,” as the couple would set out exploring shallows and coves wherever they were moored.
Sailor Eric Tsibertzopolus liked the little boat so much, he now owns two—one for his home waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and another for the legendary and far-flung Aegean Sea. “For me, the Tiwal is all about utility,” he told SpinSheet. “When I cannot find crew or if the wind’s too much to single-hand the Johnson 18, I load the Tiwal into the back of the car and go. I can sail off a floating dock, a ramp, or the beach. Lake, river, the Bay, the Aegean Sea: You name it, I’ve done it all.”
A perfect match for the little boat that can do it all as well.