Thursday, June 23, 2011

The First Round of Prototyping of the Liquidlogic Stomper

Lil' A taking the Stomper through its initial paces.  Remember that this is an early proto so the images you see will follow along with the timeline of testing and prototyping the Stomper.  This post is mostly just the 1st proto and some of the changes I made going into the second phase of testing.

We had lots of discussions amongst ourselves and and with you all about what the next creek boat should be for Liquidlogic.  Here are some of the public discussions we had on our Facebook Page.

Here is one thread specifically about a  flat hulled creek boat.

Here is a thread about all types of things you all wanted us to work on in the coming years.

One more link to more chatter.

Here was one of the early discussions about design on our page.

Woody and the rest of the team and I had been thinking about doing a flatter hulled creek boat for a long time.  In fact I had started a design a while back but had put it on the back burner because the Jefe as always is still killing it for us in stores, and everybody loves it, but once we got all that feedback from you all it was a no brainer.   The full on design process began.  I worked off the initial design concept that I had started earlier and started adding new thoughts and details.  The main focus of the design was to get more speed out of a creek boat that was super easy to use, comfortable, and bomber safety wise.

The speed was influenced by the Remix.  Many of the team and I have been paddling a Remix on all types of water since we came out with it.  I love it for creeking or big water and the speed and smoothness of lines are a big reason for that.  So I wanted to put some of that in the new boat for us to enjoy.  The ease of use was all about making it something that any paddler would want to get into.  The fact that it is flatter in hull shape means that it spins on a dime and the edges allow you to really carve into an eddie or across currents, but those edges need to be tucked so that you won't trip over them unexpectedly which we discovered in this first proto.  We also dropped the seat a little lower in this boat so that stability and rolling would be ridiculously forgiving and easy.  Bad Ass Outfitting takes care of most of the comfort stuff but through out the design of this boat we took a lot of time to look at the cockpit heights, knee and legs angles, and we designed a new seat for this boat with better support and always focusing on a comfortable ride.

Once we had the initial shape down I played around with a bunch of different deck details but none of them really tripped my trigger like a clean looking boat.  No edges to bash your fingers and knuckles on, and less weight by cutting down on extra surfaces.  The deck shape was very focused on shedding water and creating a strong shape that would hold up under a lot of stress and pressure.

The day we pulled the first protos out of the oven it rained epically.  The stars were aligning for a perfect testing situation.  The first day the water was soooo high we decided to go get on some big water.  My girls Adriene and Maria wanted to go check out the small creeker with me on some good classic Chattooga high water. The river was running around 4 feet (Normally around 1.5 feet) so we knew it would be a good test of the boats ability to handle the bigger stuff.

 One thing I hadn't even thought about was how well it was going to surf!  Adriene feeling it!

Maria cruising in the sun!

At the put in for Section 4 of the Chattooga there is an awesome big boat wave.  We could have spent all day there because the boat was soo much fun to surf.  Easy edge control and ruddering which can be a bear in a creek boat.  The flatter hull made it downright playful on the wave.

Big water "Corkscrew"!!  So fun.

But big water and tough moves were what we really wanted to test in this boat.
It was all about the speed working our way through the pushy water in the "five falls" section.  Another thing I didn't think about was how the semi planing hull would assist in surfing out of trouble.  In the shot below you can see Maria was a little right of the desired line at Soc'em Dog and dropped right into the pit of the big hole.  Maria popped out with a big smile on her face because the beating she was expecting was just a more exciting line rather than a bootie beer experience.

Maria dropping into the pit of Soc'em Dog.

And popping out smiling!

The day was amazing out there.  We learned some of the great benefits of the new design and we also found out that there were some improvements that needed to be made for that type of water.  The edges were a little grabby in cross currents which showed itself a couple times when we weren't expecting it but the speed was soo fun we knew we didn't want to affect that too much by softening the edges.

Of course this was only the first day so really we had a long way to go in testing the Stompers first iteration.  We hadn't even really had time to figure out the balance, trim, and paddling style that worked best with this boat.  We knew it would come and we knew we would have a bunch of time to test this boat out on the Green.  Water levels were still high at the end of this day and rumor had it that the Green was running over 20 inches.  It was looking like there would be lots of good flow to test on.

The Green River just before the big rains started.  The next post will be testing 
the new protos on the Green.

Thanks to all of you for offering your thoughts on the design.  It wouldn't be the same without it.

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