Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Composite Playboat Prototype #1

I got bored and added some stickers.

The First Glass and Kevlar Prototype

The first prototype of my composite playboat started early this year but the process has been drawn out a long time because we have been working so hard on other boats and we want to get this thing just right.  The composite playboat is really a long term goal that we are trying to achieve, and that goal is to create a boat that folks would like to paddle in the 2013 World Championships here in North Carolina and a boat that we'd like to paddle anywhere we go to playboat.  No they aren't for sale... yet.

Jordan Poffenberger loving life on the Ottawa River

I have been working a lot with young ripper Jordan Poffenberger on this design because, well... he rips.  Jordan has been working hard on his playboating.  This year he made the U.S. Freestyle Team and went on to the World Championships in Plattling Germany.  Now Jordan's goals are set on Worlds at the Nantahala River and the big waves around the world.

A different and fun part of this process is working on the construction and build of this boat.  Since we are working with resin, fiberglass, Kevlar there are a lot of new considerations in the construction of the boat compared to building a plastic kayak.  The goal is to try and get the boat down to around 22 lbs, and be able to take a beating unlike many of the composite boats that are on the market today.  So the build of the boat itself is a big part of the testing that we are doing.  The initial boats are built with a combination of glass and kevlar to increase the stiffness and impact resistance.  We thought a lot about carbon but the trade off for cost, weight savings, and actual durability pointed us towards this combination.  We are also constructing this boat with the cockpit integrated into the boat itself rather than attaching a rim like other composite boats.  Its a difficult and time consuming thing to do in a composite mold but it also adds a ton of strength to the boat itself.

Prepping the Mold

Fiberglass and Kevlar Materials
We vacum molded the boats and parts to help keep the weight down and make a strong part.

Heading up the actual construction of the composite boat is Bryon Phillips who helped start Lidds Helmets, and the creation of The Sin and Drain squirt boats with his brother Aaron back in the late 90's.  We also have the long time composites crew from the Greensboro area that has been building boats for quite a while that are putting in all the time huffing fumes.

Bryon sending out a prototype
First thing I did when we pulled the first boat out of the mold was head to Big Rocks on the Nolichucky river to give it a spin in a good loop hole and throw a few old school ends.  It is also a good place to test the durability of the construction.  I will admit I found a good place to hit a rock and I did it over and over to see how strong the seam where the two halves of the boat were put together turned out.  In the hole the new shape worked out really well.  There was plenty of volume for my big ass and the ends were coming through very smoothly.  The square ends seemed to really help the boat come straight over the top cleanly for loops forward and backward, and I was starting to learn some new stuff in the hole as well.  The bow volume was a little hard to get under the water for flat water stuff but other than that it seemed like a great start to the design.

Getting all 200lbs of Shane out of the Water! 
I had to throw in some old school.
The next thing I did was fly out to Colorado to paddle with Ross Herr.  The Glenwood wave on the Colorado river was in perfect form so we went for it.  Ross and I paddled the boat for a week straight which was a perfect scenario for picking apart the initial shape.  The first part of the week we noticed that the boat wasn't as loose as we would like and it was a little bogged down speed wise.  Mid week I took some materials and added some harder chines on the hull to sharpen the looseness and also pull the stern up out of the water while surfing which made the boat much quicker and faster on edge.  

Ross Herr working the Clean Blunt
This photo you can see the different color stern chine where I worked the shape a little.

After that testing I went back to NC to reshape the model and prepare for making the next prototype.
I will post about prototype 2 and 3 later.  

p.s.  We still don't have a name for this boat.  Got any ideas?
p.p.s. I will be at the Grand Opening of the new Nantahala Wave with the latest proto.

Here is the whole album of shots.

Composite Prototype #1

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