BassParade: Science

Science: Indestructible Boats

Where were you in Feb. 1977?

Did you have one of those there fancy Skeeter Wrangler bass boats?

Did you subscribe to Popular Science magazine? If so, perhaps you remember this quote: “Fiberglass, the core of modern hull construction, is now obsolescent.”

Nearly 25 years after this article made print, and fiberglass still seems to be alive and well in the boat manufacturing world. Yet back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Kevlar boat hulls were ‘all the rage’. The promise of indestructible hulls had the bass boatin’ world abuzz.

Advantages were head-to-head, Kevlar was 25% lighter, 50% stronger and 50% stiffer than fiberglass. Kevlar was a creation of DuPont, and was then recognized as the strongest synthetic fiber in the world. Lighter weight meant better fuel efficiency, and easier towing, a big deal back in those days of double digit inflation. Where ramming a stump or other solid object would puncture a hole in the hull of a fiberglass boat, it would only dent a Kevlar built hull – and it could be popped back out in some cases. Remember that ad where the bulldozer is running over the hull of the Hydra Sport?

So what happened? At one point, HydraSports was building 93 percent of their boats with the stuff. There were several problems though:

  • Kevlar was more difficult to work than fiberglass.
  • It was trickier to prepare for lamination.
  • While it had great tensile strength, it was relatively weak in compression.
  • Finally, it was a pretty costly material, adding between $300-$500 per boat built with the stuff (not sure what that translates into today’s dollars).

I still see where it is being used in some hulls of modern day bass boats, usually in the more custom built boats. Have any of you guys ever run a Kevlar hull? Or perhaps one of you guys even owned one of those vintage beauties back in the day. Seems like it was great science, but just not at the right time.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Chad Keogh

    September 19, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I prefer another “space-age” material. Aluminum. Everybody goes on and on about how fibreglass bass boats are better, but I don’t see it.

  2. 5bites

    September 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Ride in one and you will.

    That is one of the coolest pics ever. I had no idea they were making Kevlar boats back then.

    • Chad Keogh

      September 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      I’ve been in many fibreglass boats of numerous brands. Still don’t see the allure.

      As for hitting a stump as the example given in the article, I’d just bang out the dent and touch up the paint… No muss, no fuss.

  3. Rich Arnold

    September 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Kevlar boats might be the ticket for those daring to fish Lake Falcon. If you have some angry mexican gangster firing an automatic weapon at you, then this bullet proof hull could serve as protection.

  4. admin (mostly Jay)

    September 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Heavy boats are great on the water (big water) but stink on the trailer. Is there a happy medium? Maybe a boat that fills itself with water?!

    I still love the Logic/Triumph boats, made out of plastic, you can run them up on a boat ramp with no issues, but they’re super light and aren’t bassin’ boats….

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The best, worst and funniest in bassin'! Jay Kumar is the guy who created BassFan.com, co-hosted Loudmouth Bass with Zona, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer and a whole lot more in bassin™. Make sure you sign up for the BassBlaster email!

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