The ro­mance of the hand shape as op­posed to the re­al­ity of pro­gres­sion.

New Zealand Surfing - - Roady -

It’s safe to say that opin­ion is born of per­spec­tive. Whether that per­spec­tive is born from ig­no­rance for ex­am­ple or from a place of ex­pe­ri­ence, re­spec­tive opin­ions are bound to dif­fer. That be­ing the case the hand shaper’s opin­ion is likely slanted via a per­spec­tive gained while cre­at­ing surf­boards by hand shap­ing them. It’s only nat­u­ral for some­body in this po­si­tion to be of the opin­ion that hand shap­ing is the only way to go. You will of­ten find the 100% hand shape claim a point of dif­fer­ence in so­cial me­dia posts, for ex­am­ple. Only this morn­ing I saw an In­sta­gram post by a young cre­ative shaper I ad­mire and fol­low. The post con­tained a photo of a surf­board show­room with a win­dow into an ad­join­ing shap­ing bay with a cap­tion to the ef­fect that look­ing through that win­dow was the only way to guar­an­tee your stuff is hand shaped. Clearly a view that shap­ing ma­chines are not cool! Surf­ing is a very “touchy feely” pas­time and emo­tively charged words go a long way in cap­tur­ing our imag­i­na­tions and in turn open­ing our wal­lets. In the case of a shaper that de­signs their surf­boards in a spe­cialised surf­board de­sign pro­gramme which is then cut on a ma­chine, the per­spec­tive will be quite dif­fer­ent. In­ter­est­ingly very few shapers openly push the use of com­put­ers and ma­chines as a way to win you over. An ex­cep­tion be­ing, Chan­nel Is­lands Surf­boards South Africa in­stalled an APS 3000 shap­ing ma­chine be­hind glass for all to see in a shop­ping mall in Dur­ban. Tech­nol­ogy out in the open. Clearly there is a chasm of per­spec­tive dif­fer­ence be­tween two hu­man be­ings when one shaper hand shapes ev­ery board and wouldn’t dream of us­ing a ma­chine for fear of sell­ing out and an­other shaper who has spent years learn-


tomakesurethey­w­ere­durable”. While many top end surfers now have epoxy tech­nol­ogy in their quiv­ers, Hay­den is also quick to agree that while there are mas­sive ben­e­fits in rid­ing epoxy, they are con­di­tion de­pen­dent

“Ibe­lievethatwhen­the­wavesare­big and­per­fect­that­polyester­board­sstill­pro­vide thebest­feel,but­fortheusu­al­sta­pledi­eto­fall­round­tos­mall­wavese­poxypro­duced­boards arethe­way­togo,sowe­doal­lour ApexFlexboard­s­gearedarounds­mall­tomedium waves.Wood­h­a­sit­slim­i­ta­tion­san­daset­feel of­flexwhere­aswe­canadap­tand­cus­tomise the­flex­pat­terninthe­se­boards­bu­tad­just­ing theamoun­ton­car­bon­wein­sert­tofitthesurfersstyle­and­bodyt ype. Aheav­ier­surferis gonna­need­more­car­bonas­they­push­harder, soth­is­tech­nol­o­gyen­able­sustofine­tunealot more­pre­cise,where­as­in­woodall­we­haveas op­tion­sare3m­mor6mm­stringer­stotryand at­tempt­to­pro­ducethe­same­feel”. At the end of the day re­gard­less of the tech­nol­ogy a surfer only wants to know how their surf­ing will be­come a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence from what they ride and Hay­den is adamant that the ben­e­fits are mas­sive.

“Forstarter­sEPS foamis15-20%more­buoy­ant­forthe­same vol­ume,soy ouhave­morepad­dlepo wer, the­se­board­sin­stant­lyge­tu­pand­goand­feel way­more­lively,par­tic­u­lar­lyins­mall­tomedi­umwaves,whichisour­most­con­sis­ten­trange of­surf”. Since the birth of the surf­boards cus­tomers have been singing out for a board that lasts and man­u­fac­tur­ers have tried ev­ery­thing to find tech­nolo­gies that won’t break, and we’ve come to ac­cept that in a given sit­u­a­tion even a steel rod will break when hit by a wave at the right an­gle, but we can still search for a board that is more durable than the last and Hay­den feels this tech­nol­ogy is a mas­sive step in that di­rec­tion

“We­havenowhadthe­se­board­son the­mar­ket­fort­woyearsandth­ey­compriseof around35%ofthe­boardsweroll­out,andwe cansafelysayfromthe­feed­backand­in­telthat the­yare­last­ing­four­times­longerthanaPU board,like­myteamguyswillde­stroy­aPolyesterin6­month­sandno ww­ereget­ting2-4 year­sout­ofthe­seApex-Flex’s.Theotherthing wearenoticingis­themag­icfeelo­fa­wooden stringer/PUboard­whichdi­min­ish­esover­time as­the­wood­los­esitsmem­o­ryandthe­foam de­grades,inthis­tech­nol­o­gy­we­haveno­ticed thatthe­se­board­shavekept­thosechar­ac­ter­is­tic­sandthat­mag­icpopfeelfor­much­longer, with­some­teamguysstil­lasstoke­dontheir new­mag­ic­foryearsaftertheir­firstride”. TOMMY DAL­TON - STD SURF­BOARDS While there are count­less new con­cepts bloom­ing around the globe fo­cussing on new tech­nol­ogy to re­place ply­wood stringers. These al­most ex­clu­sively only re­late to Epoxy boards. Whereas Tommy Dal­tons in­no­va­tion the ‘Core­flex’ is dif­fer­ent in that the new tech can be ap­plied seam­lessly to both Polyurethane (PU) or Epoxy (EPS) con­structed boards. Tommy’s con­cept first came to fruition about four years ago. But he’d been think­ing about al­ter­na­tives to ply­wood stringers for much longer than that though. Surely there had to be a way to re­place the ply­wood with a lighter, stronger, more con­sis­tent and re­li­able ma­te­rial. The con­cept re­ally started to come to­gether in 2013. Af­ter gath­er­ing re­sources and tin­ker­ing with ideas for a while in the back­ground to the nec­es­sary ev­ery day run­ning of a fac­tory, the project then gained mo­men­tum when one of Tommy’s mate gave him a rev up and to­gether they kick­started the in­no­va­tion. “We­ex­per­i­ment­ed­withaf ewd­if­fer­ent­con­fig­u­ra­tions,and­somed­if­fer­ent­ma­te­ri­als­but thei­deaseemed­toworkeveninthoseearly boards.Twopar­al­lel­stringer­srun­ningstraight from­nose­to­tailseemed­tolookright. This sim­ple­con­fig­u­ra­tionjust­made­sense.sim­ple, con­sis­tent,even­flex­through­out­the­board”. With other NZ in­dus­tries lead­ing the way in tech­nol­ogy and com­pos­ite in­no­va­tions it made sense to Tommy than rather than at­tempt­ing to man­u­fac­ture a prod­uct him­self as has been done over the his­tory of surf­board pro­duc­tion, Tommy reached out and col­lab­o­rated with an in­dus­try leader right here lo­cally “We­con­nect­ed­with­Pul­tronCom­pos­ites,alo­cal­busi­nessspe­cial­isinginthede­vel­op­ment and­pro­duc­tionof­s­mar­tal­ter­na­tives­forstruc­turalengi­neer­ing.Pul­tronare­glob­al­lead­ers intheir­fiel­dand­have­worked­with­big­play­er­s­likeTeamNewZealand(Amer­ica’sCup). Hav­ing­peo­ple­ofthat­cal­ibr ein­volved­made forex­cit­ing­times.Be­ing­paired­with­alo­cal pro­duc­erofhigh-end­com­pos­ites­boost­edthe pro­ject­fromthein­cep­tion”. The stringers are made to a for­mula that means ab­so­lute con­trol and con­sis­tency that ply­wood could never of­fer. In fu­ture ver­sions if cus­tomers want a more flex­i­ble, stiffer, whip­pier, or rigid rod, that can be or­dered and sup­plied to fine tune what­ever the cus­tomers want. The tech­nol­ogy will al­low peo­ple to buy a board that of­fers the flex­i­bil­ity that most suits them. Dif­fer­ent flex mod­els are some­thing the snow­board­ing in­dus­try has been do­ing for years. In­no­va­tion is some­thing that is usu­ally quite guarded and kept se­cret, yet af­ter a few years of re­fin­ing the de­sign and gain­ing con­fi­dence in the con­struc­tion, Tommy has lifted the lid and opened the tech­nol­ogy to his full cus­tomer base

“In­the­be­gin­ningIwas­wor­ried aboutin­tel­lec­tu­al­prop­er­tyright­sand­wanted to­keep­itqui­et­sowe­painte­dovertheal­ter­na­tivestringers.Bob­byHansen,andRi­cardo Christiew­ererid­ingth­e­boardswithab lue stripehid­ingth­ei­dea. Feed­back­fromelite lev­el­surfer­swas­re­al­ly­im­por­tant­be­cause thoseguyscan­feelthe­sub­tled­if­fer­encesin board­sthataver­agesurfersmight­no­tusu - al­ly­no­tice,andthe­feed­back­was­re­al­ly­pos­i­tive­fromthe­be­gin­ning.We­hada­cou­pleof board­sun­derthe­feetof­someav­er­agesurfer­stoo,theyal­sosensed­some­thingspe­cial inthere­spon­sive­nes­sand­ping.It­was­greatto have­pos­i­tive­feed­back­abouthowthe­boards felt,butwe­need­ed­somecon­crete­data­soor­gan­ised­mea­sur­able,lab­o­ra­to­ry­test­ing­tobe car­ried­ou­ton­the­newtech.Testscame­back showinga20-30%stronger­board­thanthose us­ing­tra­di­tion­alply­wood­stringer.It’sal­soan­tic­i­pat­edthatthe­boardswill­re­taintheir“ping” an­dlive­li­ness­sig­nif­i­cant­ly­longerthanthan ply­wood­stringers”. While Tommy’s Core­flex de­signs have with­stood the tests of some of the coun­try’s best high per­for­mance surfers, guys that de­mand, light and pos­i­tive feel­ing crafts be­neath their feet, and rid­den day in day out in the punchi­est beach breaks on of­fer in NZ. Data in from these real-time from the field ex­pe­ri­ences is sug­gest­ing a huge gain in the life and per­for­mance of these boards. Cham­pion surfer Maz Quinn re­cently took an en­tire quiver and spent two months get­ting bar­relled in Indo and had the fol­low­ing feed­back

“You­can­feelthes­pring inthem.It­gives­the­ex­trapin­go­fanEpoxy­but you­canstill­bur­yarail­likeaPU”.

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