Get a Grip

When it comes to balancing the forces that determine performance, Sea Ray’s engineers apply sophisticated solutions to ensure an ideal ride.

Speak to a naval architect like Sea Ray’s Fred Herrington, and you’ll learn a new language for discussing boat hulls. Fred leads the team that developed Sea Ray’s fantastic-riding Grip 6 and Grip 4 sport boat hulls, so he’s quite fluent in the secret language of boat bottoms. Essentially, that language is math: honoring known ratios, calculating distribution impacts, rolling in the slippery calculus of fluid dynamics. Fortunately, it can all be reduced to two easy-to-follow formulas for all the liberal arts majors of the world.

The first formula is all about the boat owner’s planned usage, and it’s a calculation we’ve all made without thinking about it as such. How fast do you want to go, how much stuff do you want to take with you, how rough of water do you want to take on? If you place higher and lower values on each of these and other such things, you end up in different styles of boats with different propulsion packages.

The second formula is a good bit more technical—the math part!—and is how Sea Ray’s naval architects create hulls like Grip 6 and Grip 4 to answer the requirements of the owner formula. When you choose a Sea Ray SPX, Sundeck or SLX, you’ll gain the advantage of having a whiz like Fred maximize your values. You see, Sea Ray has a large team of naval architects on staff who know how to work the problem, adjusting variables that result in maximum performance out of each hull in each usage scenario.

A lot of that advantage comes down to the size of the company. Sea Ray spends more money on R&D and builds more new models than any other marine manufacturer. This generates an incredible amount of data, resulting in hulls like Grip 6 and Grip 4 that deliver thrilling performance and awesome comfort in the same boat.

Most other manufacturers don’t have the scale to hire full-time naval architects, relying instead upon consultants or freelancers. Sea Ray’s team has extensive experience designing, evaluating and delivering legendary Sea Ray ride and performance. And if Sea Ray’s engineers or designers change something else in a new boat’s design—say, moving the entertainment center forward, shifting the center of gravity—the naval architects are on hand to adjust the hull’s formula to accommodate that changed variable.

“There are multiple techniques that we use to achieve an ideal combination of comfort, performance, control and stability on all of our boats,” Fred explains. “Our naval architects know what Sea Ray owners expect and what our product development teams are trying to achieve, and we move around our variables to deliver the ride Sea Rays are known for.”

Most of the adjustments in the naval architect formula happen around five key variables, with many of the measurements presented as ratios of other variables.

The first is the steepness of the hull’s deadrise at the transom, which is 21 degrees on most Sea Ray sport boats (the variability of that steepness across the length of the hull is very important, as well). The second variable is the total strake area, placement and shape. The third is the size of the running surface relative to the amount of lift required. Fourth is the boat’s weight, both total weight and its placement fore-aft and high-low. And finally, there’s the required minimum and allowable maximum power.

There are ratios that Sea Ray’s team returns to again and again, Fred explains, plus general parameters that they know lead toward success. They have an incredible number of data points to draw upon, including access to sophisticated modeling software that allows them to make micro-adjustments to any of the variables that will impact how a particular hull rides. Once a hull looks ideal on the computer, they test with scale model hulls before they ever build the full-size test hulls that confirm whether they’ve gotten it right.

“Incredibly minute adjustments to numerous variables really let us dial in the ideal performance for each hull,” Fred says. “When you can make those kinds of micro-adjustments across a broad range of variables, you can home in on the ideal ride. We carefully check our math on the water before any hull goes into production. And because this is the real world, the good grades and smiley faces we get aren’t from a teacher; they’re from happy Sea Ray owners.”

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