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.”
“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.”
“Now time for a paint job – chalk helped out here to lay things out without being permanent.”
“Spray paint did the rest.”
“No stencil? Better make one.”
“I should have been an art major.”
“One last hot coat of epoxy to seal things up.”
“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.”
“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.”
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!