Hull Design Variations & Traits


Smaller, lighter performance hulls typically use a 22 degree deadrise hull with “step” shaped strakes that are conducive to good lift and hull aeration, while providing predictable tracking and grip when cornering. These same hulls sometimes feature a light hook at the rear of the hull to reduce porpoising, as the length of the hull, center of gravity, etc., are not always in harmony in choppy conditions.

A deeper deadrise hull, say 24 degrees or greater, as is typical with most performance oriented larger boats, will provide a smoother ride in rough conditions, but will sacrifice some lateral stability, whether at rest or at speed. Typically, a deeper deadrise hull will corner/handle better with less temptation to spin-out, as its keel creates a hydrodynamic slot through the water to hold a desired path.


In contrast a flat bottom hull with shallow “V”, say less than 12 degrees affords good stability at rest or idle speeds, but lacks the deadrise depth for aggressive handling and smooth ride in rough water. Because the prop placement is generally closer to the same plane as the rest of the hull, ventilation may occur more easily in less than ideal water conditions. This configuration is not conducive to higher speeds in rough conditions as the prop unloads more easily. In cornering with this hull, air is easily inducted from the sides of the hull, especially given the amount of sliding associated with a shallow deadrise design.


This is basically a planning hull that features a sharper “V” toward the bow and transitions to a shallower deadrise toward the rear for increased stability and lift (speed). The progressive “V” shape provides a smoother ride through rough water, while the planning area affords increased speed and stability. The displacement (weight) of larger hulls generally add to stability and ride comfort.


The cathedral hull features “channels” that force air and water to travel backwards under the hull, as opposed to displacing outwards. This helps generate lift and aeration. The channels are a by-product of longitudinal appendages sometimes referred to as hard chines, but really fall into a category of sponsons. The actual chines on this hull are reversed, thus channeling water under the hull, as opposed to letting it slip outward. This configuration creates parabolic areas at each side of the “V” center. In turning, this hull should remain relatively flat, but theoretically should create excellent tracking when cornering, although in reality will feel a little “quirky” at times. The largest drawback of the cathedral design is it does not offer the smoothest ride in choppy water. However, it offers outstanding stability and a very shallow draft.


This design has proven itself in Formula One Grand Prix Boats. Tunnel “V’s” develop extreme lift (surfacing hulls). For recreational boating, this is not a versatile design. Tunnel “V’s” have amazing cornering capability due to the outside sponson building a hydrodynamic berm when cornering and the inside sponson working like a rail to hold the combined sponsons in a designated track.


Step ventilation technology induces air under the hull to help reduce drag. The design concept has been adapted by many of the leading performance boat builders around the world. It is also referred to as Step-Ventilation. Steps are generally placed where the designer determines that a need for aeration exists on the bottom of the hull, to aid in reducing drag. Some designers use multiple steps to achieve the greatest aeration under the hull, however too much aeration can lead to less than favorable handling, especially when cornering.


Other designers, such as Harry Schoell, take a different approach. Harry’s design is really two hulls in one; a forward Delta Conic hull section having a conical entry with a delta shaped constant planning area. Aft of the main hull section, a constant planning area displacing another delta pattern is created when on plane. The forward hull creates a bow wave that surges under the hull (rooster tail), causing the aft section of the hull to ride on this wave of higher pressure. As speed increases, this wave moves further aft, lifting the stern and creating greater leverage against bow rise (anti-porpoising). This system gives quicker planning, much like a cavitation plate mounted lifting wing (Doel-Fin). It essentially gives a longer hull without the penalty of increased wetted surface.


Usually incorporated into the original mold, this design feature allows the propeller to be raised higher out of the water flow coming off the transom, thus reducing drag and usually increasing rpm’s, resulting in greater speed.


Essentially create the same effect as a recessed “step” just before the transom, allowing the prop to be raised higher (“X” dimension) and reducing drag. In addition, an extended bracket adds overall length to the hull, which aids in wave-spanning capability or technically speaking; improves longitudinal stability.


An air induction system can be incorporated to aerate the hull, similar to steps, but drawn in via air inlets channeled from inside the hull. This is accomplished via an inlet from the bilge that draws air under the hull, based on the vacuum created by a raised strake located just forward of the exposed air inlet hole on the bottom of the hull. This is an innovative form of hull aeration, but only serves to aerate a small portion of the hull, which might be just right, because too much aeration sacrifices handling.


One of Ocke Mannerfelt’s (remember the “batboat”) neat little product ideas called “Speed Rails”, which were designed as a bolt-on appendages to traditional hull strakes. These clever little rails help capture water flowing outward, toward the side of the hull and force it to flow toward the rear of the hull, naturally increasing lift. Because the rails protrude straight down from the lip of the strake, it also aids in cornering, by creating grip. Hence the name; Speed Rails.

Coupling these technologies and design exercises appropriately and you have significant factors that can extract speed and fuel efficiency from a hulls’ design.


There are many elements that make up a hull’s bottom. The shape of the bottom’s sections, how rapidly the sections sharpen as they move forward, and they blend toward the transom. A good hull has the right blend of design elements and it is the designers job to create a hull that incorporates the best features and performance for a given application. Hence, the rapid development of specific hull designs for runabouts, cruisers, muscleboats and raceboats.

Despite having to meet general performance goals, every boat has its own personality and quirks. Personality can be cosmetics, ergonomics, special features and lay-out. Quirks will most often manifest themselves in the form of handling. This is why hull design is crucial to the overall package. The perfect hull does not exist, because each person will place emphasis on different areas. Every boat design is a compromise to achieve the best characteristics for the intended use(s).



That portion of the hull where the bottom of the hull meets the side of the hull. This is usually a sharp angle and can be referred to as a Hard Chine or a Soft Chine. A Soft Chine may offer a smoother ride, but may not offer the spray deflection and stability of a Hard Chine. A Hard Chine will generally offer greater speed.


The angle of the “V” shape from the center of the hull, measured in degrees to the chines, is referred to as the deadrise. The deeper the deadrise, the deeper the center portion of the hull will ride in the water and thus a smoother ride may result. A shallow deadrise hull may not ride as smooth in rough water, as it develops more lift , generally riding higher, but will offer greater lateral stability at rest or at slower speeds. Deadrise is the angle on each side of the keel, that the bottom of the hull would create if an imaginary horizontal line ran through the keel, usually measured at the transom. Deadrise angle is not always constant from stern to bow.


A usually protruding appendage running lengthwise along the bottom of the hull to enable greater lift, stability, speed, tracking, and aeration of the wetted running surfaces. Strakes are generally Step Shaped, V-Shaped, or Reversed. A strake can add grip when cornering or resistance against lateral slippage. Strakes are normally used, to a varying degree, in multiples and sometimes staggered placements. Among their many attributes, strategically placed strakes can be used to deflect spray and soften a hulls ride while adding stability, handling and speed.


A usually intentional design where a concave area, running fore and aft, near the transom, increases lift thereby pushing the bow of the craft down. This enables faster planning with reduced bow-rise and generally aids in reduced porpoising at higher speeds. However, this increases the wetted running surface of a hull, which may result in a loss of speed or poor handling characteristics.


The curvature of hull’s bottom from the bow to the stern (best viewed from the side of the craft). The bottom of the hull will appear to have on outward convex shape. This shape can result in more bow-lift and reduced running surface, but can cause porpoising. Some hull designs feature a rocker for favorable characteristics and hook to cancel out unfavorable ones.


A flat portion of a deep “V” hull at the bottom dead center, running lengthwise from the transom, forward to the bow. The Pad will generally taper-off into a sharper “V” shape as it progresses up the bow. A Pad is a flat running surface that develops lift allowing the hull to plane on a smaller surface area, thus reducing drag and increasing speed. A Pad can be long or short, wide or narrow. Each has benefits and drawbacks.


A hulls length (and the added weight associated) can add longitudinal stability, especially in rough water conditions. A longer hull has the ability to “straddle” choppy water, with less porpoising and a resulting smoother ride. A shorter hull will generally be more maneuverable and lighter.


This is the width of hull. A wider hull will add greater lateral stability at rest or when underway. A wider hull may be more susceptible to “wave-slap” and therefore may not offer as smooth a ride as a narrower design. A wider hull may be utilized for more load carrying capability.


This is the height of the hull from the waterline to rub-rail. A boat with greater freeboard will generally offer a drier ride, but may have a higher center of gravity, and thus less stability.


This is the amount of water (or depth) that a hull displaces at rest. Generally, a hull with greater draft will have greater stability and greater resistance to outside forces, i.e., wind or waves, as the total submerged area of the hull provides a greater foundation to cancel the effects of outside forces.