Beach life-saving equipment can be outdated, expensive to run and time-consuming to set up in an emergency. So when Loughborough University graduate Ross Kemp realised this, he created the Asap water craft: an easy-to-use, power-assisted watercraft for beach lifeguards. Here he tells us about the project, its success and why epoxy resin has played an important role.
Firstly, can you tell us how the project came about?
I graduated university in 2011 with a degree in Industrial Design technology. For my major project I designed an electric, motorised watercraft.
I knew that, with rising fuel prices, two-stroke petrol jet skis would no longer be a financially viable rescue or patrol option for charity-run lifeguard stations. I also knew there was a market need for innovation in lifesaving equipment – to reduce water rescue time, help conserve lifeguards’ valuable energy, make beaches safer and overall help to save more lives.
My motor-assisted craft is an alternative floatation aid to powered rescue vehicles, such as jet skis. Not only is the product cheaper to buy and run than a jet ski but it can also be launched immediately by one person and charged using solar energy. The function-driven design also allows lifeguards to keep casualties afloat more easily, improving upon existing paddle rescue boards.
The fully working prototype was tested and evaluated with RNLI lifeguards.
Which WEST SYSTEM® or PRO-SET® epoxy products did you use? How did they help?
I constructed the prototype of the watercraft using similar methods used in surfboard construction – fibreglassing the wrong way round. I started with a wooden chassis onto which the motor was bolted and then I stuck sections of polyurethane foam to it; these were surfboard offcuts! Next, I spent around a month in a tent in my garden sanding to get to the symmetrical shape, filling gaps with expanding foam. After weeks of sanding and bleeding fingers, I had my shape.
I sheathed the foam with a skin of fibreglass using WEST SYSTEM epoxy and woven glass cloth which worked fantastically and was easy to apply on the curvaceous shape.
I then faired the shape with WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin and 205 Fast Hardener, thoroughly mixed before adding WEST SYSTEM 410 Microlight™ filler to a peanut butter consistency. This fairing process helped to smooth out the rough surface of the woven glass. The 410 Microlight filler was a real lifesaver; it’s incredibly lightweight and really helped keep the weight of the watercraft down. Once a smooth finish was achieved, the paint was the icing on the cake.
What was the most rewarding part of the project?
Since handing in the university project in 2011, the Asap water craft has received a lot of attention and I have been given incredible opportunities to develop it. Firstly, Loughborough University offered to fund further development of the craft with the aim of commercialising the design. Plus, I was chosen from over 5,000 businesses for the BBC television show ‘Be Your Own Boss’, in which I managed to successfully pitch to the co-founder of Innocent Smoothies, Richard Reed, who invested money into the product. What’s more, he even introduced me to Sir Richard Branson who kindly offered to help to launch the product!
To find out more about Asap watercraft, and to keep up with the latest news, visit the Asap watercraft website.
Do you have a project that you’re working on? Email us at email@example.com and we could feature it in a future edition of epoxycraft!
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