Hobie Cat primarily uses woven and mat E-glass with polyester resin for its Hobie 16 boat. Typically, the company hand laminates the glass foam sandwich to construct a light, stiff structure in a relatively complex shape. But it can achieve greater reductions in weight and improved stiffness by using more “exotic” materials, such as S-glass, Kevlar or carbon fiber, combined with lighter core material, such as honeycomb Kevlar. A higher fiber-to-resin ratio, through vacuum bagging, prepreg or autoclave production, also can boost these benefits. And by replacing thermoset resins with thermoplastic resin, Ketterman says, boat builders are making their hulls more durable than ever.


Swimmers achieve their highest speeds at the start of the race when they first enter the water. Propelling Olympic swimmers into the water is a simple, yet crucial piece of technology – the starting block. There are strict rules governing construction and use of these platforms, but among the most important criteria is that the starting blocks are stable and slip-resistant.

Swimming non-slip starting block

Strong, non-slip starting blocks are crucial for propelling Olympic swimmers to record-setting speeds. Photo Credit: S.R. Smith

“Of course a strong, non-slippery footboard is important for swimmers, but as important is a solid, stable anchoring system into the pool deck so the block doesn’t rock or wobble upon a swimmer’s takeoff,” says Karen Andrus-Hughes, marketing manager for S.R. Smith LLC in Canby, Ore.

Manufacturers like S.R. Smith rely on fiberglass and textured composite coatings to create these solid, nonslip blocks. The company’s newest starting block, Velocity, is comprised of a GFRP top block and start wedge created through resin transfer molding. Another layer, a proprietary textured composite material called TrueTread, covers the surface of the block to provide a durable foot grip. Polypropylene and gel coats have proven popular as a nonskid top for starting platforms.