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.)

By luck or design, Aipa's new board was in fact quicker turning than conventional boards then on the market, and his amazing Hawaiian test pilots—Larry Bertlemann, Dane Kealoha, Mark Liddell, and Buttons Kaluhiokalani—helped fuel the stinger's burst of popularity in the mid-'70s. Mike Purpus helped popularized the board in California; Mark Richards of Australia, in the two years before he redesigned the twin-fin, used an Aipa-shaped stinger to become the winningest pro of the mid-'70s. When Richards redesigned and popularized the twin-fin in 1977, however, the stinger fell quickly out of fashion.