Quick Tech: Installing a Custom Hurricane Industries’ Kawasaki Ultra Hood Wrap

Those loyal readers of The Watercraft Journal know that the build up to last week’s Jettribe Long Beach-to-Catalina Offshore Championship has been stretched over several months, all beginning with an offer from our friends at Kawasaki USA to use one of their brand-spankin’-new 2014 Kawasaki Ultra 310R JetSki’s in the grueling 56-mile open ocean enduro.

Paired together with multi-time IJSBA World Champion Minuro Kanamori, the two of us were entered in the Manufacturer Stock class – where Kanamori rode so hard that he shadowed fellow Kawasaki-racer and race winner Craig Warner until he started to run out of gas, bumping him back to third place overall. I, on the other hand, came in 20th overall and 10th in my class, but let’s not dwell on that.

Unique to the 310R over the other 310-models is the two-tone paint job and blue pinstripe. We started by removing the factory decals, and any residual adhesive.

Next, we started mocking up the black background pieces on the hood. The Ultra hood is nefariously complex, full of compound curves making this kit a little bit of a chore.

Rather, we want to show how we gave our already stunning-from-the-showroom Ultra 310R a very custom, yet very noninvasive makeover, thanks to our very special friends at Hurricane Industries.

The Antioch, California company first opened its doors only at the start of 2014, but Derrick Kemnitz has been working in the graphics and composite industries for many years before that. “I offer a variety of composite parts as well as many custom graphics, number plates, custom apparel and clothing,” Kemnitz explained.

We asked Kemnitz to design a very European sport bike-inspired hood wrap that would not only showcase our race number in bold fashion but also include the logos of our supporting sponsors – namely, Kawasaki USA, JetPilot, Fly Racing, Dragon Alliance, Hurricane Industries, and of course, The Watercraft Journal.

Using Adobe Illustrator CS7 and a “standard” vinyl plotter, Hurricane knocked out our unique design in record time and had our vinyl kit in our hands with plenty of time to spare before the weekend’s race.

Hurricane recommends installing the vinyl decals on a wet, slightly soapy surface if only to allow freedom to position the decal properly.

Be warned, for those looking to do likewise for their Ultra-series Kawasaki and have never installed a wrap like this, know that the kit is not a single finished piece. Our kit was comprised of several layers that needed to be “stacked” to get the final look. Thankfully, the Oracle Intermediate Cast vinyl is thin and therefore lays down nicely one layer upon another, but again, it might take more time than you’re used to.

Working together with Kanamori and Kawasaki’s vehicle prep master, Jeff Priddy (the man who single-handedly prepares every single Kawasaki bike, ski, quad and UTV that is seen in official press photos), we spent several hours working the vinyl to get every bubble, wrinkle and crease out. Be prepared to work, but you’ll be stoked on the result like we were.

Once the water has dried, the decal can be properly applied. We used a variety of squeegees and plastic applicators that would chase out bubbles and wrinkles without “burning” or damaging the thin vinyl.

We worked each back panel in stages, as one panel needed to dry more before we could chase out all of the bubbles, as another was ready for final application.

Admittedly, we struggled with the center section: the Kawasaki’s complex curves made the main backing difficult to cooperate. Add to that the unusual cut-outs for our sponsors’ logos and unique design, we had to lay it down in stages.

The clear backing paper is oddly thicker than the vinyl itself and has a texture that makes laying the vinyl decal down a little tricky, but we managed to get the hang of it after a while.

It’s easy to get excited – and therefore a little impatient – when you start seeing how the white top layer decals bring the black backdrop decal to life. The intricacy of the background cuts now make sense when you see how Hurricane incorporated the green hood into the logos.

Next came the bold race numbers, two highlight stripes and racer name – akin to those seen on vintage race cars and motorcycle racers.

Because the lower half features a blacked out section, we took out a razor blade and trimmed the vinyl accordingly. Jeff Priddy also classied up our design by cutting the wrap to allow the blue pin stripe to bookend the racer signature.

The final result almost looks like an official Factory Kawasaki setup. Again, this kit comes off twice as easy as it was to go on, so for those wanting to replicate this look need only to contact Hurricane Industries today.

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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