shapeshifter

The art of cus­tom joy, cre­at­ing the buzz by de­sign! ...brought to you by BARKERS'

New Zealand Surfing - - Rising Grom - by Roger Hall by Mike Cun­ning­ham

Now That We Have Our Fin­gers Curled Firmly Around The Vol­ume Knob. The ques­tion is: Do we turn it up or do we turn it down? How know­ing the vol­ume of your surf­board can ei­ther hold you pris­oner or set you free.

It’s only in re­cent times that we have been able to add vol­ume in terms of litres to our surf­board de­sign vo­cab­u­lary. What is it? And why is it chang­ing the way we per­ceive our equip­ment? Sim­ply put, the vol­ume of your surf­board is the space con­tained within its skin. Think of it as be­ing like the air in your car tires. Just as you can change the size and shape of a tire by in­flat­ing or de­flat­ing it, a surf­board de­signer can change a surf­boards shape by in­creas­ing or de­creas­ing its vol­ume. Up un­til roughly ten years ago gen­er­ally speak­ing surf­boards were shaped by hand. urf­boards were mea­sured at key in­ter­vals to pro­vide data as a way to un­der­stand how they func­tioned. These mea­sure­ments also formed the ba­sis for a gen­eral de­scrip­tion that surfers could un­der­stand and re­late to. The lan­guage of the day was length, width and thick­ness with some ad­di­tional di­men­sions mea­sured 12” up from the nose and tail re­spec­tively, add in the tail shape, bot­tom shape, num­ber of fins, whether the rails were low medium or full and this is how surfers de­scribed and vi­su­alised their boards. Length, width and thick­ness were ex­tremely im­por­tant num­bers when it came to choos­ing a new board, surfers of­ten clung to these num­bers as their gospel with only the slight­est in­cre­men­tal changes if any, from one board to an­other. It’s im­por­tant to note that shapers and surfers alike had no real con­cept of the ac­tual vol­ume in litres of surf- boards dur­ing this time. In terms of hand shap­ing surf­boards noth­ing’s changed. With the dawn­ing of the new mil­len­nium came new tech­nol­ogy in the form of com­puter con­trolled shap­ing ma­chines and spe­cialised surf­board de­sign soft­ware. A surf­board de­sign pro­gram ac­tu­ally com­putes the surf­boards vol­ume as the de­signer in­puts data and ma­nip­u­lates de­sign com­po­nents and curves on the screen. On com­ple­tion of the surf­board de­sign, de­ci­sions can then be made to ad­just var­i­ous parts of the surf­boards shape to zero in on a de­sired vol­ume. Once elu­sive, vol­ume now has a tan­gi­bil­ity that’s pro­pelled it to the top of the list in many surfers surf­board vo­cab­u­lary. It’s com­mon place for a surfer to state that he or she rides 28litres for ex­am­ple (never mind the other de­tails of shape!). Vol­ume has given surfers the con­fi­dence and courage to cross di­men­sional bound­aries and style gen­res. Why? Be­cause once you un­der­stand the vol­ume you like for pad­dling, wave catch­ing, duck div­ing and wave rid­ing, you are sud­denly less re­liant on all those other di­men­sions that once seemed so im­por­tant. As a de­signer/shaper I have no­ticed that many surfers feel far more com­fort­able about chang­ing things like lengths, thick­ness, width, tail shape and nose area, so long as they know the vol­ume is within their com­fort zone. Hav­ing con­trol and un­der­stand­ing of vol­ume is prob­a­bly the biggest sin­gle rea­son that al­ter­na­tive surf­board shapes are now the driv­ing force be­hind surf­board de­sign and are so com­monly seen and rid­den all around the world. Vol­ume there­fore has be­come an in­cred­i­bly po­tent de­sign com­po­nent in its own right and yet it is in­ter­con­nected with all the other de­sign el­e­ments. I’m talk­ing about rocker curve, deck curve, pro­file foil, deck roll, rail shape, bot­tom con­tours, plan shape area etc. rather than flex, weight or material char­ac­ter­is­tics. Vol­ume is the only de­sign com­po­nent that is three di­men­sional and as such will change as a de­signer changes the depth of a con­cave or the full­ness of the deck rail as well as the plan shape width or pro­file thick­ness at any point.

It’s im­por­tant to re­alise that vol­ume and buoy­ancy are not the same even though vol­ume plays a mas­sive part in deter­min­ing the buoy­ancy of your surf­board. Firstly the over­all de­sign of your board will de­ter­mine its vol­ume, the ma­te­ri­als your surf­board is con­structed of plus the vol­ume will to­gether de­cide on the fi­nal buoy­ancy. In other words it doesn’t mat­ter if you’re rid­ing an E.P.S, P.U foam or tim­ber cored surf­board, the vol­ume will be the same for any given shape. What will be dif­fer­ent is the over­all buoy­ancy and this is due to the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the ma­te­ri­als used in con­struc­tion. So how does vol­ume re­late to us as in­di­vid­u­als? The short an­swer is in­di­vid­u­ally! Take 5 surfers of the same weight and their vol­ume re­quire­ments may dif­fer greatly due to other fac­tors such as age, fit­ness, ex­pe­ri­ence and wave type rid­den. On the surf­board side, take 5 boards of the same length, width and thick­ness and they may vary con­sid­er­ably in both over­all shape and vol­ume and hence suit­abil­ity. There are many vol­ume cal­cu­la­tion charts avail­able and out of in­ter­est I in­putted my de­tails into one - Age: 60 yrs , abil­ity: av­er­age, weight 68 kg, fit­ness: av­er­age and wave type: weak (re­al­ity rather than choice). Here’s what it sug­gested for me: sixty surf­board op­tions ap­peared on the first page, the lengths var­ied from 6’3” to 8’0”, the widths var­ied from 18.9” to 22”, the thick­ness from 2.4” to 3.2” and the vol- ume 46 to 51 litres. The surf­boards on of­fer ranged greatly in their shape and de­sign and I’m sure that if you lined up five surfers that matched my de­tails the chances are that we could all be rid­ing quite dif­fer­ent op­tions. As a surf­board de­signer I don’t ac­tively use vol­ume cal­cu­la­tion charts; how­ever they may help you to get an un­der­stand­ing of the vol­ume con­cept if you are new to it or look­ing for some di­rec­tion when chang­ing board shapes. From us­ing the dual tech­nol­ogy of a C.N.C shap­ing ma­chine and com­puter surf­board de­sign pro­gram I have a vast li­brary of shapes with known vol­umes in litres and this be­comes a pow­er­ful tool when it comes to guid­ing surfers in and out of dif­fer­ent surf­board shapes and sizes. My ad­vice is to think of your vol­ume needs as they ap­ply to you as an individual rather than mim­ick­ing what the pros ride, what the charts sug­gest or what your mates say. Vol­ume is use­ful un­der your chest and un­der your feet but not re­ally as a sta­tus sym­bol. In my book most times it’s fair to say that with vol­ume, more is bet­ter than less. Vol­ume is your friend when it comes to pad­dle power and wave count, it also con­trib­utes to a nice clean en­try into the wave and helps set up your line out of the bot­tom turn. Beat­ing sec­tions, hold­ing speed and flow be­tween turns and over flat spots are all ben­e­fits of vol­ume. The trick with vol­ume is hav­ing it de­signed into the right places within the surf­board shape es­pe­cially if you’re util­is­ing higher vol­umes for your phys­i­cal size. Vol­ume can be sep­a­rated out by us­ing care­fully tuned pro­file and rail foils so that the rails will sink and en­gage with re­li­able hold. High fit­ness lev­els cou­pled with surf savvy ex­pe­ri­ence re­quires less vol­ume if de­sired for a given riders weight. A ben­e­fit of low­er­ing vol­ume is ease of duck div­ing and this can be a big con­sid­er­a­tion de­pend­ing on wave lo­ca­tion and type. For ex­am­ple if you are reg­u­larly surf­ing Piha you are much more likely to be fo­cused on duck div­ing as a con­sid­er­a­tion than you are if Orewa is your lo­cal. Surf­board de­sign al­ways comes back to a mat­ter of bal­anc­ing out all the in­gre­di­ents to get the best blend of all around surf­ing func­tion­al­ity to suit on an individual ba­sis. Vol­ume may be shed via a drop in thick­ness to aid duck div­ing but length may be in­creased to bump up the pad­dle power as an ex­am­ple. In a quiver sit­u­a­tion some surfers may choose to stick closely to a par­tic­u­lar vol­ume for stan­dard­i­s­a­tion as they add dif­fer­ent shape and size boards while oth­ers will change the vol­ume more freely util­is­ing it to dic­tate the shapes and there­fore the func­tion of the boards they are rid­ing. Vol­ume is a tool, use it! Cheers, Roger.

“Vol­ume is use­ful un­der your chest and un­der your feet but not re­ally as a sta­tus sym­bol.”

The many faces of vol­ume: Vol­ume takes on the form of its host as these three dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent surf­board shapes show. L to R- 5’11” x 20” x 2 7/8” Sin­gle Fin Flow, 5’9” x 21 1/8” x 2 3/4” Twin Keel Fish, 5’4” x 21” x 2 11/16” Mini Sim­mons. All three boards are 37.5 litres in vol­ume.

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