Interview with Yann Nguyen, representing Takuma and its new eTow

Today we will talk with Yann Nguyen, the sales manager for The Takuma in Europe. In September the company announced and presented their brand new product - eTow. Takuma describes it as a self-controlled electric watercraft, originally created for foiling but with the possibility of its much widest application - from scuba diving to rescue operations at sea. It is a truly unique product that has never been on the market before. The first deliveries are expected at the end of January, but today we will find out about the eTow as much as possible.

- How did Takuma come up with the idea of eTow? Did you feel a demand from people?

- Not from people because it did not exist before. So nobody was really expecting us to create exactly an eTow. But we love doing this kind of stuff. 
But maybe some people were missing some sessions because if you don't have a friend or a jet ski available or if you don't have a boat available, then you are not able to go to the water and have fun like you would like to do. So the idea was to give you the freedom to go anywhere you want and especially any time, so you don't need to wait for anybody to go in the water. 

It's practically like a small boat, right?

- We don't actually call it a boat because you're not standing on it. I would say it's more like a remote controlled watercraft. Yes, it's like a toy.
- And what about some special technical features, what is so new about the eTow?

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- Well, the concept itself is really new because it doesn't exist for now. I mean now “to be towed on the water” you have to have a jet ski or a boat with a friend, so you need to have at least 2 people. With the eTow you don’t need anybody, you can go whenever you want and you'll be completely independent. We even deliver the eTow with a little trailer, therefore you can put the eTow in your van or in your pickup or in your car, if the car is big enough. With a little trailer you can easily bring the eTow down to the beach just by yourself.
The eTow is a bit heavy (60kg), but it is made like that on purpose. You don't want to have something light because if it's too light when it goes fast and if it's rough sea it's gonna fly in the air, and if it starts flying then you're losing the traction. So you don't want it to take off. The eTow is a bit heavy, that is why you have a trailer to be able to bring it to the water and technically, we have two twin jets. And it’s really safe. If it capsizes, it will come back by itself on the right side. Wherever you go, if you catch some big swell even if it is caught by white water and capsizes, it will come back by itself on the right size. It is really seaworthy.
You actually have 2 ways to use the eTow - you can only use the remote with which you can accelerate, you have different gears. It's like a joystick. When you use it from back to front it will increase the gear, from 1 to 10. And you can move the eTow from left to right with the remote. You accelerate, you get out of the water and you steer it left and right. But then you realize that as soon as you have your right speed - the speed you feel comfortable with, you start carving left and right. Actually, you don't really need to use the remote anymore because you set the speed and then, when you pull on the rope, for example, if you go left on the left side of the eTow, then it will pull on the back of the eTow. So it will tend to force him to the right and then the next turn. If you go right, if you pull then it will make it turn a bit left. So it's really funny because then you have the feeling (and it's not only a feeling but also the reality) that in fact you're steering it just by hand. By pulling on the rope, you can adjust the direction of the eTow.

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- And can you tell a bit more about the way it stops? How far can it go if you let go of the rope?

- There are 2 ways to stop it.
1) On the remote you have a safety button (it's like an on/off button). So you need to have your finger on it. If you let go of the remote or if you let go of your finger just because you want it to stop, it will stop immediately. It's super easy.
2) And the second way to stop is via the signal. If you fall in the water, the signal will be cut, because it is not going through water. Another important thing is how far you can get away from the eTow with our regular remote. It's 600 m. If you go over 600 m away from the eTow, it will lose your signal and stop. It's good because you don't want your eTow to go 2 km away from you.

- Can it go any further than 600 meters away?

- 600 m is the maximum distance except the cases when you use another compatible or universal remote. With an additional remote control, you can go up to 1.5 km from the eTow. But this type of remote is not meant to be used by yourself. It's more for renting because some rental stations are really interested in eTow to get people to discover foiling. For example, if you have the eTow people can come and try e-foiling or motor surfing or whatever they want to try riding behind the eTow. So you can be standing on your boat or on a dock and send someone towed by the eTow on the water using a remote.

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- So it can be used a lot by the instructors, correct?

- Yes, that’s too. If you know how to foil it's no problem for you to foil and at the same time think about the direction of the eTow. But when it's your first time foiling, finding the way to do it, you want to be able to focus only on one thing. So the instructor can take care of the eTow.

- It sounds like a great option for the beginners and those who are learning…

- Yes, it’s very convenient for the learners and also for family or a company of friends. If you have experience, then you can let your family, friends try it whilst you take care of the remote and give some advice on foiling and so on to them.

- As far as I know it can also be used as a lifeguard. If you can’t take a boat and go to rescue somebody you can just send the eTow to the water setting the directions via the remote…

- Absolutely! And you can use a sled, which is basically like an inflatable standard paddleboard but much wider - it's a platform on which people can stand or sit. You can send the eTow with a sled to the person who needs to be saved, if they can’t swim they can simply go on the sled back to the shore.

- Will Takuma produce such a sled too?

- Yes, it will be released in January. We are also working on some rescue applications and - will be a really good support for the lifeguards because they will be able to send the eTow and bring people back to shore. The eTow is smaller, lighter and cheaper than a boat with the engine. It means that the lifeguards need just a little trailer on the beach. And then they can launch the eTow to go out on the water and to catch someone.

- Alright, I got it. And how long is the riding time of the eTow?

- It depends. If we are talking about just foiling - it can be up to 2 hours. If you put more drag, you will lose some autonomy. But it's still over an hour and a half. What takes the most amount of energy is when you take off from the water, when you're in the water and you need to pull - this takes a lot of energy. So if someone is just foiling and falling and taking off a lot, then its autonomy will be shorter for sure. But if someone knows how to foil and just take off and go, then they can go for up to 2 hours.

- As far as I remember the maximum speed is 45 km/h. Will it also be a useful and interesting water craft for some very experienced surfers?

- Yes, the interest here is not about going as fast as possible. It's more to be able to go out and have some carving on the water. If you want to have some nice curves and the fun of carving, you don't want to go too fast, because the faster you go, the more in a straight line you go. So that's why we didn't try to make it too fast or too powerful.

- So the main idea is to get autonomy, to discover more, to go further than faster. Am I right?

- Yes, it’s true. We want you to take you out from the water and have fun. It gives the ability to carve on a foil, to carve on a swell, to carve on a surfboard if you want. But the idea is to have fun and not to be scared.

- What about extreme sports?

- I mean it could be extreme if you want, because if you go in a super big swell, it's gonna be extreme, but not extreme because of the speed of the eTow. The eTow is a tool, it's more about things that you can do with it. The purpose is to give you the ability to have as much fun as possible anywhere you want, at any time.

- eTow was released a few months ago, right?

- Yes, in September 2022, we presented our last prototype at the Cannes Boat Show. Now it's under production and the first deliveries will arrive at the end of January.

- Are you working already on some new ideas or products?

- Yes, sure, but I can't tell you yet. You have to follow Takuma on various platforms to get the latest news :)
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