Popped down to the boat builders last week to see the progress on the plug with my own eyes. It is very near completion except for the final polish before a mold is taken off it.
The original shape was milled on a CNC machine in polystyrene, and then covered in fibre glass. However, this is still not stable enough to maintain the shape and surface, especially as I transported it on my roof rack, plus the time it’s been dormant. Consequently it took a considerable volume of filler to ensure a smooth finish and consistent shape.
6.5 metres long
Now that is has a colour applied, it looks a lot sleeker.
A nice big rear deck surface for the Devizes to Westminster race number. The rear buoyancy bag will also but secured below deck.
The design of the stern is similar to The Darkness. The boat has zero rocker along the length which will ensure straight tracking, but may be a devil to turn around. However, there are no 180 degree turns from Devizes to Westminster.
The cockpit area seems vast, but considerably smaller than a full open boat. The cockpit rim will make a nice comfortable handle for portaging, and it will support a full size (massive!) spray deck.
The front deck is steeped to ensure efficient water run off if the bow goes under any large washes. Its steep angle also makes it easy to switch the paddle.
The bow area
I’m planning to install portage handle on both front and rear decks. It may spoil the look, but should make portaging easier.
The acute angle of the gunwale gives the boat longitudinal rigidity, as does the cockpit rim.
I’m building in three cross cockpit thwarts (maximum under ICF regulations). One will be across the centre and the other two will be just in front of the paddlers to help get up from the seat, and of course back down again. These will be carbon fibre tubes secured with stainless steel screws. This means that they can be removed or re-positioned anywhere according the size, shape and preference of the paddlers.
I plan to put in flanges to support seats and footrest along the entire insides of the cockpit. This will allow maximum flexibility and comfort in terms of type of seat, height and design, plus the same with the footrests. This will allow the boat to be trimmed according to the crew.
I’m just hoping now, that the boat builder will stay focussed and crack on with the mold.