**Updated** - Tiwal vs Laser (Price): A Comparison of Portable/Inflatable sailboats like the Tiwal, MiniCat, XCat and others to rigid fibreglass and plastic hulled Sailboats like the Laser.
Customers have the best questions. Recently I got asked a question that I have been asked many times before:
"I'm comparing prices with Laser-type boats and am surprised at the cost. Is there a reason the Tiwal is so expensive?"
Here's my answer (and more)...
UPDATE: This post gets alot of hits on my blog ... but when i re-read it, I hate it. That's the problem with writing your blog at 2:00 AM after you've been working all day ... it's a tired brain dump which doesn't get followed up with any legitimate proof reading so the ideas I wanted to convey get lost in poor grammar, form and and incorrect spelling. Needless to say I'm embarrassed by it. I kept the original post below (for now) in case someone is able to interpret and benefit from the ramblings but I wanted to write a short summary follow up and even though it is once again 2:00 AM when I write these words I hope this time it makes more sense.
LASER (pros and cons)
Maybe this comparison is about more than price ... but in the end i love all boats ... if you could own many boats then why not. But if you can only choose one ... well if club racing is your thing then while there are open class races where you can join in with a Tiwal or MiniCat ... most are one design so you need the same boat --- so Laser it is.
And while there are many cheap used Lasers out there... there is a hidden cost of ownership to a fiberglass boat (maintenance, storage, repairs) that is not reflected in the price. And many of these may have unseen damage since so much of the hull is not visible ... you might have leaks and de-lamination and not know it until ytou are sailing for 3 hours and the hull gets swamped. In the end it seems you always get what you pay for.
Lasers are hard to sail, inflatables are easy to sail but also advanced sailors or as you increase your skills, you can push them and get alot out of them for many years.
So if you want a sailboat you can take anywhere, sail anywhere, own for life, not have to spend money on trailers or storage or maintenance and repairs, sail with other people, land on a beach or rocks, climb on without falling off, sail casually or aggressively ... then you would not go wrong with an inflatable/ portable sailboat like a Tiwal, MiniCat, X-Cat, SmartKat Happy Cat or others...
You might think an inflatable should cost less especially since inflatable SUPS have come down in price so much ... but those are mass produced in the same factory in China ... anything mass produced is inexpensive whereas anything that is handmaid and artisanal is not. But when you see the quality of the engineering and materials and how brilliantly and perfectly everything fits together you quickly realize these boats are not "cheap". They are very durable and well made pieces of nautical engineering and are an exceptional value ... especially when you consider you will own it for life and take it sailing anywhere and hopefully everywhere.
Anyways I hope you enjoy your time on the water, no matter what boat you choose and I hope this cleaned up blogpost was helpful ... Aloha.
One last thing ...if you did read the original post below in which our customer (Dan) asks about the price of a Tiwal ... Im happy to say he ended up buying one and couldn't be happier. He wrote us this follow up and I wanted to share it with you:
Many thanks for all the advice both pre- and post purchase on the Tiwal. I've been sailing it at every opportunity I get. It's incredibly fun and I was sailing within 3 hours without any previous training or experience other than your primer and our correspondence.
Your customer support is phenomenal in a time where it's all too common for a retailer to "disappear" following a sale. I very much appreciated you making yourself available to answer my many questions and to provide advice.
The boat is awesome and beyond convenient. My initial concerns about price have evaporated after seeing the quality and precision workmanship on it. This thing is a beast and is going to last me a long time... It will probably get passed down to the girls once they are a bit older. They love sailing with me and are learning to help me set it up and sail.
Thanks again for the recommendation. I'm super happy with it!
Thanks Dan (I have the best customers) -- whether you choose a Tiwal, MiniCat, XCAT, SmartKat, HappyCat or any other portable boat I know you will enjoy sailing it for years to come. Enjoy your summer everyone.
Thanks for reading and I hope you like us on Facebook, Follow us on Instagram, Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and make your own tracks through fresh powder, perfect waves and crystal clear waters.
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Please excuse the typos and lack of proof reading...
Boats in general are not mass produced, and it is amazing how much mass production (economies of scale) reduce prices in consumer goods. Things that are produced for a long time or in mass quantities will generally have lower costs over time. Look at flat screen TVs for example, when they first came out they were 30-80,000 or digital cameras. The laser has been out for a long time and the price has gotten about as low as it can possibly go. New boat prices are also affected by how many used lasers are out there.
That said the Laser new is still more expensive than a Tiwal by a few thousand and does require a trailer to tow and/or a trailer to hand push. Being so big there is also storage costs, whether you pay to store it somewhere or post opportunity cost because it takes up a parking space. Storage costs can be $500 or more per year and a trailer can cost $750 or more. The Tiwal does not require a trailer and can store in a closet so that needs to be factored into the total cost of ownership.
The Tiwal is in fact hand made in France with some components being hand made in China but it has not been around long enough to benefit from mass production, The laser was once and might still be an olympic class boat meaning there are a lot out there. There are many other monohull dinghies that are more modern designed than the Laser which start at around 12,000 and can go up to 35,000.
The laser is made of fibreglass which is very easily damage from beaching or bumping into docks, other boats or rocks. You will see a lot of novice sailors tie bumpers around fibreglass boats to avoid damage. They can however be repaired but its not cheap, requires some knowledge of fibreglass and use of hazardous chemicals and takes time to apply, sand etc… Easy to damage, difficult to repair. Some boats have now been made using root moulded plastic. They are much taught but also heavier. And should they become damaged cannot be repaired.
Inflatables are the toughest and can wisthdstand landing on rocks hence why they are the coast guard, police, navy seals boats etc. If they do become damaged they are very easily repaired with a patch and glue which actually comes with the Tiwal but i have NEVER had to repair an inflatable. Remember the boats we carry use the same or similar marine grade rubbers and PVC etc as the coast guard, marine, navy, police boats.
The laser is for one person and is about 400 pounds. Other boats are also in that range or heavier and some can support two or more people. The tidal is about 100 pounds and can hold 2 adults although some people have sailed it with 3. The laser is very tippy and if not rigged correctly I’ve seen the mast fall out when it gets turtled. Ive also seen people have trouble with lasers in waves. Even getting on one from a dock is difficult and people often take a swim. The Tiwal is wide and stable and easy to get on and off even from the water should you capsize and a breeze to right. It is great for catching waves. The laser can be tricky to climb back aboard and requires more weight to right.
There is a general perception that inflatables are the same as those plastic things you see at Canadian tire but these are like the high end zodiac and police boats. and are not cheap to make. They actually contain several layers of material. In fact the Tiwal is even more unique in that it uses drop stitch technology like the inflatable SUPs to make it rigid and has 2 separate chambers for safety. Inflatable SUPs are like computer or TV screens… one or 2 factories in China make them for all brands. Twal is a very unique and i believe patented shape and it is only made for tidal hence the costs are high. SUPs are not cheap but their price has come down due to the vast quantities and the fact that so many are the same. But drop stitching in general is not cheap.
All the components are high end weather its machined marine/airplane aluminum (custom made in France) or the shackles (i believe harken) or the sail (made by North) and all assembled in France… The result is a high end product retailer than a cheap canadian tire plastic shell with a tiny sail thrown on. The boat is a true sail boat not a sail thrown onto a SUP as an afterthought and as such can turn well, go upwind well, is well balanced, etc… and it planes like a dream. Sailing really gets fun when you plane and paling is dependent on hull shape, weight, size of sail etc… The Tidal is flat, wide and light so its a dream to plane and sail.
Its also a new category. When the computer first came out everyone thought it was an overpriced calculator and it took time to understand what the worth and use was. Inflatable sailboats need to overcome a perception that they should be cheap, but if you look at windsurfing and Kiteboarding etc, you will easily spend 5k on gear. And high quality inflatables are not cheap. Even if you look at Zodiacs which have been around for years and millions sold, they are quite expensive.
So basically Lasers are probably the cheapest of true sailboats but they are an old, outdated and heavy design. Newer sailboats are great but heavy expensive (15k easily) and more difficult to sail. Rigid boats have a lot of hidden costs of ownership such as storage and repairs. Inflatables have a perception hurdle that they should be cheaper but when you evaluate all the pros and cons they are cheaper in terms of total cost of ownership and are a modern fun safe and easy to sail design using high quality components. Once you overcome the “sticker shock” the value becomes more clear. Add to that the ability to take it with you anywhere and you have a boat that you will actually use instead of just leaving to collect leaves. You can’t bring a laser to wasaga or many other beaches and lakes but a Tiwal is no problem. Heck you could even use it in places like algonquin.
I hope this helps clarify or overcome the “sticker shock” …. I have many customers and colleagues including myself that had the same initial reaction. I started by designing my own inflatable models and when I saw the costs to produce and manufacture It re-enforced the value of the Tiwal. Please feel free to call me if you would like discuss further or I can call you and save on Long Distance Charges.
I've posted about this topic before as well but wanted to add some more points and maybe use this to answer this question when it invariably comes up again:
I find this topic fascinating as it is at the heart of what we stand for. Let me explain.
I started this business because I love sailing, paddling, surfing, kiting, wind and water sports in general and that amazing freedom and feeling you get from these sorts of experiences and adventures. They were the best times of my life. I met people form all over the world who shared these passions. If I could I would sail and kite and surf and paddle every day for the rest of my life as I am sure many others would also. The problem was accessibility and affordability.
I joined sailing clubs but inevitably tired of the politics and restrictions, and not being able to sail where and when I wanted to. I always dreamed of owning a sailboat but living in the city space was a big factor. So I started researching, designing and buying inflatable products. Inflatables are amazing for all the reasons Ive already shared and the performance is great ... Let me tell you a MiniCat 460 has a big sail and is super light and is one hell of a boat! Smaller boats like the MiniCat 310 or the Tidal with the small sail are awesome learning boats and great for kids. So inflatables, and portables really address the problem of accessibility.
But what about affordability?
Sticker shock is a big thing to overcome. When many people think of inflatable or portable they associate it with something cheap and I dont blame them, But look at laptops, the smaller ones are often times the more expensive ones. Making something portable takes more engineering thought and effort. The materials use din inflatable are not cheap either. If Inflatable SUPs had not exploded in growth and sales they would still be a few thousand... look at brands like Aquaglide or Red Paddle... Inexpensive not the word for it.
The sad fact is these sports are not cheap. One of my plans is to eventually offer rentals and setup a club somewhere. I have also been in contact with Sail Ontario to provide them some boats to use for their teaching programs. But at the end of the day these boats are less expensive than rigid boats and in fact cheaper to own going forward. You also do not see any used ones for sale which tells you something ... people that have them get use and value form them for a long time... they don't sit and collect dust. They dont break down because they are stored in the elements and they get used and loved.
Versatility. I love that you can have an inflatable sailboat as a yacht tender. Heck you can even attach a motor to them!I love that you can pack them into an RV and go sailing with your sweetheart. I love that you can teach others to sail without fear that they will damage your expensive, fragile, carbon fibre moth.
I love those other boats too. Ive sailed Hobie's and Laser's and albacores and more... but I love innovation and trying new things and being able to enjoy sailing and paddling and waterspouts wherever I go without having to worry about rentals and returns etc... I may be a ferrari fan but I would never turn down the chances to drive a lamborghini or porsche and this attitude opened my eyes to the world of inflatable boats and more, and Im very thankful for it. Inflatable (and portable) is the new hot sector and it is worth checking out because it makes enjoying these sports much more feasible.
Look at the great boats we have:
X-Cat - you can row and Sail! you can row forwards!
MiniCat - You can solo sail a catamaran controlling jib and main and tiller!
Tiwal - is a wave catching machine, I love sailing it in swells.
Takacat - The perfect dinghy! No bulky floorboards, the floor is like an inflatable SUP! The perfect platform for swimming, Scuba and Kiting! You can easily kite from this boat and its great as support when teaching lessons.
Row and Sail - Row facing forwards in your SUP!!!
CaribeSUP - Top quality stiff and tough SUPs that operate at 15 psi NOT 20 yet just as stiff as this 20 PSI brands - and light! and cheaper too! Track great and look great!
RRD - Incredible kiting gear! The problem with kiting is you couldn't try before you buy so many people bought whatever their local shop recommended and RRD was much bigger in Europe! Light bar pressure yet super responsive, great wind range, lots of boost ... I am so glad to be carrying RRD -- a leader in the next wave which is STRUTLESS!
Coming Soon - Windsurfing gear from RRD and a lot more .... Mystic Point Water Sports is the premier place for water sports gear. We / I want to share this passion with you!
So dont let the price deter you... investing in fun on the water will be the best investment you have ever made. There is simply no better time I have ever had than riding the wind and the waves and playing in the element h20.