Quinn Connell’s White Water Kayak Project – Part 4: Finishing Touches

In the Fall of 2013, Quinn Connell devised an Independent Study in Kayak Design using free courseware from an MIT Naval Architecture Graduate program. Quinn was able to combine his experience as a kayaker with his studies in fluid dynamics and design his dream white water kayak. He then approached Jamestown Distributors and asked to sponsor his project  in order to make his dream boat into a reality.
Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

With the hull and deck fully molded, I had a few key pieces to add before the boat was finished:  I needed to install grab loops, cockpit coaming, pillars to reinforce the boat, and outfitting to secure the paddler.

"Making grab loops: I used webbing and slitted extra pieces of carbon to layer them in without impacting the structural integrity of the boat.  The packing tape kept the handle portions from getting coated in epoxy and sticking to the boat."

“Making grab loops: I used webbing and slitted extra pieces of carbon to layer them in without impacting the structural integrity of the boat. The packing tape kept the handle portions from getting coated in epoxy and sticking to the boat.”

"To make the cockpit rim, I tacked on rubber hosing with hot glue then molded from the inside of the boat over half of the tube using carbon tape."

“To make the cockpit rim, I tacked on rubber hosing with hot glue then molded from the inside of the boat over half of the tube using carbon tape.”

"An extra layer of carbon wrapping from inside the boat over the first cockpit rim layer added a lot of strength to the deck.  I used the hose from the first part of cockpit rim construction to clamp the second layer on and get a nice, smooth finish.  I kept the hose intact as a ring, heated the rubber and slipped it on like a spray skirt.  As the rubber cooled, the hose shrunk and clamped the second layer into place giving a tight layup and smooth, watertight finish.  Extra foam core and carbon/kevlar was used to make front, back and side pillars. I also used extra bits of foam core and carbon to reinforce critical areas like the thigh braces."

“An extra layer of carbon wrapping from inside the boat over the first cockpit rim layer added a lot of strength to the deck. I used the hose from the first part of cockpit rim construction to clamp the second layer on and get a nice, smooth finish. I kept the hose intact as a ring, heated the rubber and slipped it on like a spray skirt. As the rubber cooled, the hose shrunk and clamped the second layer into place giving a tight layup and smooth, watertight finish. Extra foam core and carbon/kevlar was used to make front, back and side pillars. I also used extra bits of foam core and carbon to reinforce critical areas like the thigh braces.”

"Now time for a paint job -  chalk helped out here to lay things out without being permanent."

“Now time for a paint job – chalk helped out here to lay things out without being permanent.”

"Spray paint did the rest."

“Spray paint did the rest.”

"No stencil? Better make one."

“No stencil? Better make one.”

"I should have been an art major."

“I should have been an art major.”

"One last hot coat of epoxy to seal things up."

“One last hot coat of epoxy to seal things up.”

"Look at this beauty!"

“Look at this beauty!”

"For the outfitting, I carved minicell foam to the shape and height that I wanted for the seat and thigh braces.  I augmented this with a seat cover, back band and hip pads taken from an old broken boat."

“For the outfitting, I carved minicell foam to the shape and height that I wanted for the seat and thigh braces. I augmented this with a seat cover, back band and hip pads taken from an old broken boat.”

"Just in the nick of time, too! I took her to the pool, and after pleading with the lifeguards to let me test it out, I was able to pull some strings and get in a corner of the pool.  She floated, and I was able to throw around some flat water tricks to christen her.  Thanks, Joann!"

“Just in the nick of time, too! I took her to the pool, and after pleading with the lifeguards to let me test it out, I was able to pull some strings and get in a corner of the pool. She floated, and I was able to throw around some flat water tricks to christen her. Thanks, Joann!”

"That afternoon we had a poster session to showcase our various projects.  Bernie designed and built a SUP and Quinn Harper did the same for a RC scale rendition of an America’s Cup boat. We had several other mid-term projects we had developed along the way, including developing a curriculum to teach high school students to design and build their own RC system and catamaran for an underwater robot."

“That afternoon we had a poster session to showcase our various projects. Bernie designed and built a SUP and Quinn Harper did the same for a RC scale rendition of an America’s Cup boat. We had several other mid-term projects we had developed along the way, including developing a curriculum to teach high school students to design and build their own RC system and catamaran for an underwater robot.”

The process of turning this boat into a reality was both mentally and physically taxing.  While I could not be more pleased with the outcome, I am in no rush to go through the experience again any time soon.  This was certainly a high point of my education and as I had just graduated college, there was nothing left to do but go use my new kayak.

Stay tuned for the final installation of Quinn’s project series!

6 thoughts on “Quinn Connell’s White Water Kayak Project – Part 4: Finishing Touches

  1. Is that a giant SHOE or a boat??? Didn’t know it was a boat until I saw the last picture with a person standing next to it. Beautiful work, ugly boat.

    • You need to watch the earlier videos where he is in the river doing stunts in his kayak. Esthetics aside, you aren’t going to do that type of maneuvering in any of my kayaks.

  2. What are the reinforced tabs for in the front of the cockpit opening? You have spring clamps on them in the third picture. In the last couple of finished pictures these tabs seemed to acquire extra features. I can’t figure out what they are there for.

  3. Indeed, it looks like the molds for this boat were pulled off of a traditional Dutch wooden shoe (scale excluded). I find it fascinating how some basic design forms repeat over the centuries.

  4. Those are the supports for the thigh braces. the additions look like reinforcing struts. All points where the paddler contacts the hull can receive considerable stress while doing acrobatics on a wave.

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