Isaac Levinson during the Green Race. Photo: Tim Brown

Liquidlogic made some dreams come true this month with the release of their production Stinger. Born from the desire to win The Green Race, the Stinger has gone through several changes since its first release in 2007 and now has a production mold to meet the mass demand.

The Stinger descends from the Remix 100, which was first built in 2007. "It was a last-second decision to have a race boat for the Green Race that year," Shane Benedict, cofounder of Liquidlogic, said. Liquidlogic continued making the Remix 100s for its team members for two years until Benedict decided to go with a dramatic change to its design.

"I added eight inches of length in the stern of a boat that was already almost 12-feet long," Benedict said. He made the redesign for a couple reasons, the main one being speed. He noticed that whitewater race boats, when taken up to speed, really start to bog down in the stern. Companies had been working to fight that sitting action, and Benedict found that by adding the length to the stern, it kept the bow from rising. "The place you really see the dramatic difference between the Stinger and other boats is in the slides below Gorilla," he said. The Stinger tends to skip across the pools at the base of each drop without loosing speed.

The team saw they were on to something when they made that change. Local paddler Adriene Levknecht had been winning in the Remix 100, but they started seeing wins in other classes with the Stinger. Isaac Levinson and Mike Dawson were taking the men’s class, and Keith Sprinkle dominated in hands paddle.

Even then, the Stinger still had a little way to go. Each year, it underwent changes as the team got to know more about the boat. "This last year I flattened the hull quite a bit," Benedict said. "We knew we were fast, but it was sometimes a tough boat to control for some paddlers." By flattening the hull it allowed paddlers to correct more quickly on mostly forward strokes, which added more speed through the rapids. The boat has not gained much flatwater speed, but the control and accuracy did affect the whitewater speed.

The Stinger was designed solely to win the Green Race. As more people outside the Asheville, NC area got their hands on the boat for their hometown runs, they found other uses for it. Among those “other uses” were big booming enders, surfing long fast waves and covering lots of territory with little effort. In fact, one of Benedict's favorite activities every year is to drop in at Tumblehome on the Gauley and bomb enders for a couple hours.

But “the one indescribable final detail that can’t be measured is that feeling of speed that those who have only paddled since boats were under nine feet just don’t understand.”

Adriene Levknecht hitting Gorilla in the Stinger. Photo: Tim Brown