Classic Video: Stinger, surfboards Design

sting, stinger

High performance surfboard design, invented in 1974 by Hawaiian surfer Ben Aipa. The stinger’s main feature was a bifurcated outline; two-thirds of the way from the nose, the rails abruptly cut in about one inch toward the board’s center strip, then continued down to the tail. “What the stinger does,” proponent Mike Purpus wrote in 1977, “is allow an extremely active and expressive form of small-wave shredding.”

The sting (Aipa’s original name for the design; it immediately became better known as the “stinger”) was a hybrid, grafting the narrow tail section of a big-wave gun onto the wider hips and nose of a small-wave hotdog board. A narrow-base single fin, placed further up from the tail than conventional single-fin boards, was another stinger design component, as were the beveled (or “chine”) rails along the front section. On some models, the planing surface of the rear section was also set a quarter-inch or so above the planing surface of the forward section—a “step bottom.”

Surfing magazine claimed “the stinger’s theory and basic template are patterned after the hydrofoil boat,” but Aipa later admitted he invented it after accidentally dropping a Masonite template onto the rail of a just-shaped board, which he then salvaged by narrowing the tail outline. (California board designer Dale Velzy had twice before introduced the split-outline board, first with the “Bump” in 1956, then with the Jacobs Surfboards “422” model in 1965; neither caught on.)

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