Our lightest boat – the SpitFire XLT Ultra weighs in at a scant 18 lbs. The Spitfire XLT is our standard laminate and is RUGGED. XLT stands for “Xtra Lite Trim” – a 50/50 weave of carbon and Kevlar braided sleeving over a foam core that is infused at the same time as the rest of the hull (a system developed at Placid Boatworks) – weighs in at 21 lbs. Both weights include seat, backband, footpegs and portage pads. In fact, all of our boat weights are “as paddled” – no bare hull weights for advertising purposes here. Other solo boats in our line weigh between 19.5 and 22.5 lbs in XLT Ultra and 23 and 26 lbs in XLT. Wood – we use cherry – adds three to four pounds, depending on model.
You can make a very lightweight boat with a foam core in the bottom. Sandwiching foam between two laminate layers makes a very stiff panel. However, using our vacuum infusion process results in a hull that is about as light as a foam cored boat without the downsides. The problem with a foam core occurs when the laminate that is adjacent to the foam core is soft – as many are when the object is to save weight. When you hit a submerged rock or other sharp object, the non-cored area of the hull will deflect – until it gets to that stiff foam core – at which point it breaks. Repairing is a nightmare, too, because water gets into the core space and travels between the foam and the laminate. To repair this requires removal of a large panel of laminate from the inside of the boat, removal of a large panel of foam, thorough drying and patching of the inside of the outer panel, replacement of the foam and replacement and patching of the inside laminate panel. Then, the gel coat needs to be repaired. In the event of a large hit that results in a crack to a Placid boat, a Kevlar patch and gel coat is all that’s required to fix it. Repair kits are available.
Our decks are handmade from blocks of birch plywood with each ply dyed a different color (three in all; colors alternate). The plywood is formed under intense heat and pressure, and with the use of a lot of resin, so it is more of a laminate than a wood in the end. They require no maintenance but can be touched up with 120 grit sandpaper and spar varnish.