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The Sting

Vessel Number: HV000460
Date: 1972
Designer: Ted Jones
Previous Owner: Les Schrapel ,
Vessel Dimensions: 7.92 m x 2.44 m (26 ft x 8 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
THE STING is a wooden three-point hydroplane built in Goolwa South Australia in 1972 for powerboat racing. THE STING is one of very few remaining plywood unlimited three-pointers still able to be operated in Australia, and is demonstrated regularly in SA where it has always been well known, and is still driven by its original driver and co-builder Dig Traeger. The design was based on Ernie Nunn's 1963, 1965 and 1968 Griffith Cup winning boat WASP TOO. THE STING has won numerous events in South Australia and remains the holder of two outright speed records for the state. The boat was re-engined as part of its racing career, and it remains in this final configuration, in excellent condition.
DescriptionTHE STING was built in Goolwa by boatbuilder and carpenter Jack Newcombe working with Dig Traeger. Traeger was a competitor and colleague of the champion driver Ernie Nunn, one of the sport’s most celebrated and popular drivers who began racing as a teenager in 1916 and carried on to the 1970s. In the early 1970s Nunn was at Traeger's residence on a social visit. According to Traeger: " we were having a cup of tea, and Ernie said I should get out of the skiffs [Traeger’s current class] before it killed me and get into hydroplanes". On the promise that he only built one boat, Nunn offered Traeger permission to copy WASP TOO, his previous winner of the Australasian Championship Griffith Cup, the premier powerboat race in Australia and New Zealand. Nunn had built this boat by adapting a smaller design from American designer Ted Jones. Traeger and Newcombe went to Sydney and measured up WASP TOO, then returned to Goolwa where THE STING was built in a Nissan hut. The maple plywood hull is framed with plywood bulkheads and has Oregon stringers and stiffeners.

It was an excellent project according to Traeger; THE STING was right from the start and never needed any major revisions, a credit to the original design and to their building skills. Using the original engine, a 350 Chevrolet V8 Traeger set a state record of 112 mph (179kph) for the under 400 cu in class. He sold the boat in 1976 to Les Schrapel, and helped him install a larger 454 cu in V8 Chevrolet engine. With this engine it set an unlimited state record of 124 mph (198 kph). These records still stand in 2011, lasting almost 35 years. It has a fibreglass cockpit arrangement, with a vertical steering wheel. This allows the cables to be run directly from the axle along the floor to the rudder, a safer arrangement than leading them off to the side and then aft.

The transom mounted rudder is offset from the centreline to the port side, so that the thrust from the propeller is not disturbed by the rudder, which would reduce the effectiveness of the thrust. This offset rudder position also suits turning to port, because the races are all setup with the turns made only to port. This is because the torque from the spinning propeller is so strong that the craft can turn comfortably in only one direction, and cannot turn against the torque very easily. By agreement, races only turn to port, and all engines and propellers are then configured to suit this. The engine is fuelled by avgas petrol.

Traeger acquired THE STING again in 2006. He had retired from racing but maintained the hydroplane in operating condition. Amongst the demonstrations Traeger still does with THE STING is his regular feature at the Goolwa Wooden Boat Festival where the river front is closed down for 20 minutes each morning to give THE STING uninterrupted passage. Traeger then performs a series of runs at over 100mph, close to the wharf, with a tight turn to port at each end, demonstrating both the speed and the agility of these finely tuned craft, along with the thunderous roar of the powerful engine. It is then brought down on its trailer to the main display area so people can view the well built wooden craft. It is now a rare chance to see one of these craft, as the Australian Power Boat Association note on their website: "the Unlimited Hydroplane- The biggest and baddest hydros in Australia. There are only a handful of these boats left in the country....."

Vessel Details
Current status:operational
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber plywood
Hull material and construction:plywood/chineply/chine
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:planing
Motor propulsion:inboard
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Motor propulsion:petrol
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Alternate Numbers

Vessel Registration Number: GA31S

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