The romance of the hand shape as opposed to the reality of progression.
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-
" STRINGERLESS SURFBOARDS ARE NOW PART AND PARCEL OF NEARLY EVERY BOARD MANUFACTURERS OFFERINGS, WITH BIG NAME BRANDS SUCH AS SLATER DESIGNS, LOST, FIREWIRE, CHANNEL ISLANDS AND MORE, OF WHICH SOME OF THESE BRANDS ARE USING KIWI BORN INNOVATIONS, ALL OFFERING VARIOUS DESIGNS OF THIS TECHNOLOGY. "
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”.