Winter 2016

From mammoth tusk to TenCate Cetex®

Boomerangs probably evolved from “throwing sticks” used for hunting small game: the naturally curved flight-path inspiring experimentation to obtain a full return.  The invention of the bow and arrow supplanted their use for hunting and the boomerang became an intriguing –but enduring toy.   

Today boomerang competitions are held across the World.  Using TenCate Cetex®, Englishman Bill Hirst has made a number of new prototypes. ‘This material offers unique advantages to anyone looking for a boomerang to deliver exceptional range and accuracy.' 

boomerang bill hirst worp
Bill Hirst: 'From mammoth tusk to TenCate Cetex® is a 23,000-year R&D project.’ 

If you think boomerangs originated in Australia, prepare yourself for a shock: the earliest known boomerang is 23,000 years old, made of mammoth tusk and was found in a cave in Southern Poland. It seems to have been used for reindeer hunting (the area was then tundra), so strictly speaking it should be called a ‘killing stick’, since the term boomerang is reserved for throwing sticks capable of returning. 

boomerang bill hirst table
Bill Hirst with several composites-based boomerangs

Boomerang throwing is a global sport. Competitions are based on different events that test range, accuracy, speed, flight endurance and catching skills.‘It is a highly technical sport that attracts those with athletic and technical skills,’ says Bill Hirst.
The age of competitors is wide-ranging: from a few under-10s to numerous over-60s. The boomerangs thrown looked nothing like the two-wing boomerangs you see in souvenir stores. 

boomerang bill hirst prototypes
Bill Hirst had decided to develop some new designs for the WBC long-distance competition in Kiel (Germany) in 2016 – his best event, with a ranking of 21st in the world

'The extreme stiffness of TenCate Cetex® PPS material – it rings if you tap it – suggested that it might be possible to reduce the thickness to 2 mm, thereby decreasing weight and drag and increasing range. I also developed a novel asymmetric U-shaped design that offers a greater moment of inertia per unit mass, even greater weight reduction and advantageous kinematics. I fine-tuned these boomerangs’ moments of inertia by using tungsten weights, which have the same density as gold.’ 

See the clip of Bill and Henry in Copenhagen (DK).

Blue fabric (Tecawork Blue 65287)