Friday, October 18, 2013

The Development of the Liquidlogic Stinger

The development of the Liquidlogic Stinger started nearly 6 years ago.  Hard to believe.  I had both a lot less and a lot more hair.  I had fewer wrinkles and we had less technology going into the design of our boats.  The Remix 100 was the original name of the Stinger.  The name came from the 100+ gallons of volume and the common dam release of water on the Green which is 100% of 1 unit.  Woody liked to call the 100% release a "hungee", and so the first proto of what would become the Stinger was called the Hungee.

The original design was a complete side project.  I hammered away on the computer for a few days at home, printed out cross sections and applied them to foam to be cut and glued together to make the model.  It was a mix of modern and a little old school know how that I learned from Alan Stancel (designer of the Dancer) to get this boat together in a hurry for the upcoming Green Race in the fall of 2007.

We were still in our small shop just on the outskirts of Hendersonville, N.C. and only 6.582 minutes from the Put-In of the Green River.  In the design department it was just Allen and I hammering away on models.  In these photos you can see the entire shop.  When we would get busy there wasn't any room to move around.

Once I printed out the cross sections I then cut them all out and glued the entire thing together on a spine to hold it all straight and level.  Then its just a matter of cutting, grinding, and shaping down to the cross sections and you have a boat... sort of.  There are a few more steps in between but you get the idea.

This very first prototype of what would become the Stinger was 11'9" it had a fairly traditional long boat hull design with a little more bow rocker and a little bit of flatness under the seat.  After working our asses off to get this one ready we hammered out some prototypes just in time for the Lord of the Fork race on the Russell Fork river in Kentucky.  In fact I loaded the van and met Toby McDermott and John Grace late in the evening with, hot out of the oven protos, so they could drive through the night and race the next morning.  Toby won the race and we were pretty excited about that.

Van load.
Notice the frost on the boats.  Its race seaon!
The day after that I got a few folks together and paddled the Green for the first time in the Hungee.  The first float is always nerve racking but it came out great.  It was very predictable, stable, and far faster than anything we were paddling at the time.  The competition at the time was the Tornado, the first proto of the Green Boat, and a proto boat from Waves Sport called the Momentum.  We seemed to be in the realm with those guys but after that very first day I knew that there was more that could be done.  My actual thought was "this is too easy to paddle, surely we can go faster and hang it out on the edge more".

The next year i decided to really push it and see what would happen.  I added 8" in length, only on the stern of the boat.  Anything that I would have added to the bow wouldn't have been in the water so its affect on speed would have been minimal but that 8" in essence represents a boat 16" longer.  So in a way the Stinger has a water line of 13' 1" boat but by keeping the bow shorter my theory was that it would be easier to move around rocks and potentially help with resurfacing, and keep me from pitoning off Sunshine.

Once again paddling away from the beach that first time was a little nerve racking.  I just wasn't sure that a boat that asymmetric was going to turn quickly enough.  Some of the team paddlers thought I might be a little crazy.  The amazing part about that design change was the speed.  Adding that extra length made it into a rocket.  My favorite feeling was the first time skipping through the pools at the bottom of the slides in the race course.  The extra speed carried momentum easily.

In 2008 Adriene tied for her first win of the Green Race.  Obviously there were great paddlers paddling the boats but they were all moving up the ladder in placements of the race so it felt like the boat changes were making a difference.  To fund the first Stingers we sold some of our prototypes to the public and they were obviously a big hit.  We couldn't make enough of them and people lined up on a waiting list to buy the boats used by racers.  That first Stinger was fast but it was also a bear to control so over the next year I skeemed on what sort of changes I wanted to make.  The main thing I wanted to focus on was maintaining the speed but if I could also make it easier to paddle that would be awesome.  I made subtle tweaks to the hull making it slightly flatter and rolling the bow edges under the boat so that they wouldn't hit quite as hard.

In 2009 we had 4 boats out of the top 6 in mens.  Adriene won again with a record time breaking run and breaking the 5 minute barrier.  Keith Sprinkle took the hands paddles class.

In 2010 5 of the top 6 were in Stingers and Mike Dawson and Isaac were at the top.  Tad Dennis won the C-1 and Keith Sprinkle won hand paddle.

Each year I would do small changes.  After 2010 we did a small deck volume increase and flattened the hull a little more.

2011 Isaac won the race and Eric Deguil pulled into 3rd and Adriene won again.

2012  was a crazy year because of the high water.  The gage was reading 12 inches plus and that proved to be fast and wild.  Mike Dawson crushed the course record.  Isaac came in third and Eric finished up the top 5.  John Grace was 6th with his fastest time ever.  Adriene won and Jordan took C-1.  Just before this years race I did some more small changes to the design adding more flat hull and more deck volume to the ends of the boat for surfacing.  All the team folks agreed they didn't want me to change it any more.  With that in mind we sent the model off to the mold maker to finally make a production mold that racers across the country had been asking us to do for 6 years.  Automatic for the People!

Now everybody gets to go fast and do big enders!

Here is a few Stinger Videos.


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