WHERE'S MY STRINGER GONE?
For 60+ years surfers have slid into the shore break and paddled out duck diving through the oncoming sets staring down at a piece of wood joining one half of their finely crafted block of foam to the other, yet over the last few years many surfers have dug their chest into the board, picked up their stroke and thought “Where has my stringer gone?” Since the advent of the surfboard manufacturing processes have barely changed, and with the entire world experiencing a technology age where huge advances in equipment have been seen in other sports and industries, surfing has remained relatively stagnant. Why you may ask? Because it works, so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! But surfboard manufacturers have for many years toyed and played with different materials and technologies before coming back to the tried and proven polyurethane foam blank and a wooden stringer! Some boards have one, two, sometimes even three or four stringers, but they have all utilised the natural material of wood. Talk to any old shaper and they will tell you “we’ve tried everything! In the 70’s we tried fibreglass, then when aluminium came onto the market we tried that, then when the military started making bullet proof vests out of Kevlar, thinking that was the next big thing we begun building our stringers out of Kevlar, then carbon! But we kept coming back to the natural flex and spring of wood”. But let’s pose the question, if you were to add any type of technology or change to a surfboards shape without having a ‘Con- stant’ platform, how could that change be measured? It is the scientific prerequisite to measuring any change to have a constant in place. Pre-the days of the finely accurate shaping machine, a shaper could only attempt to replicate a board but realistically this was not as precise as required to offer that constant we speak of. That newly glued up Kevlar stringer blank, was shaped as close to the wooden stringer blank it was supposed to replicate, but it went different therefore the Kevlar stringer was seen as the negative, and not perhaps the inaccuracies of difference in the shapes form. Enter the shaping machine and CAD (computer aided design) where now more than ever changes in design can be measured because we now have a constant to work with. And since machines have being implemented and refined and tuned so has technological and manufacturing advancements come hand in hand. 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. And since kiwis have always been at the forefront of innovation and technology especially in sectors such as yachting we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to two of our surf manufacturers who have been working on their own innovations for several years now. HAYDEN CHAMBERLAIN - HC SURFBOARDS. While Hayden is quick to point out that he has taken a lot of the technologies others have worked on in the EPS Epoxy field and created his own variation, it is the groundwork that has gone into his design and the years of testing that was undertaken by his team riders that have delivered the design currently titled the ‘Apex Flex’ which incorporates the use of carbon laminated into the board with two parallel placed rods in the bottom which run under the fin boxes finishing just behind the front fins, and one rod placed into each rails following the apex of the outline and finishing directly in the centre of the front fin and rounded off with a carbon strip laminated into the deck, and this makeup creates a lot more tail flex, which provides a lot more ‘Pop’ and spring in and out of turns. Like all new innovations only the foolish would release un-proven technology and Hayden spent over a year fine tuning and getting it right before the design found a place in his production
“Wemadealotof boardsjustforgoodsurfersanddidalotof testing,justtomakesurewewereonthe righttrackandthatourconceptswereactuallyproveninthesurf,wealsodidn’twant toreleasethemtothemarketuntilweknew theyworked,andt wothatthe yweren’t gonnasnaplikecarrots,therearesomany brandsouttherepushingnewtechnology thataresnappingallo vertheplaceand thentheyhavetowarrantythem,sowehad