That’s a line from a song by the Talking Heads, entitled Once in a Lifetime. We’ll come back to that in a minute.
We were taking some left over supplies to the hazardous waste pick up for San Joaquin County which is down by the Stockton Airport. On the south end of the airport we passed this cool airplane from we’d guess was WWII era. You can’t see it too well but there is a machine gun turret on the top behind the wings. That clear canopy that is just ahead of the left hand side rudder has two machine gun barrels poing out. Can you imagine the being in that rear gunners position?!
We have no idea what make or model it is, we just thought it was cool, but then we got to thinking. Surfboard and really wakesurf board technology hasn’t changed from that era. If you look at airplanes they haven’t changed all that much either. We mean, it’s not like we are being transported via light beams or some such. Still a couple of engines, wings, tail, elevator, fuselage and machine guns. OK OK OK, skip the guns part, but for the most part modern planes all have the same stuff as they did in the 40′s. There are minor changes or maybe they are major. Instead of piston driven radial engines, we see modern jets for military and most commercial airplanes.
It’s like surfboards, shapes remain mostly the same, and there are changes in terms of construction and material. Wings have those little winglets on the tips and we see Boeing working with Carbon Fiber instead of aluminum. But you know what that takes? Thinking outside the box, we’d guess.
We were reading some weird spam about an event and all we could think about was how did those folks following along drink that kool-aid? Followers, no matter what their pre-disposition, never come up with new or different. Maybe they can refine an existing idea, but it’s always still following something that exists. We think those folks also have trouble saying: ummm, that’s freakish! What are you thinking?! All they can do is join in and follow the leader, even if it’s drinking poision kool-aid!
Have you noticed that for the most part, all wakesurf boards are the same? Same shape, same construction, same fin pod arrangement, same paint, blah, blah, blah. As a manufacturer, you’ll go broke doing that. Someone else is going to buy it from China and sell it at half the cost you’re making it for. Or, pretty soon another shaper is going to offer the exact same thing, out of his garage, for $100 less. Working 14 hour days or working a day job and subbing out the laminating is the slow road to the poor house. It’s certainly been paved by many folks that have come and gone before. Plus when you are chasing your tail like that, what is the opportunity to develop new shapes and use new materials? It’s kinda tough! Or you just copy from someone else that makes something work. What is that saying? R&D stands for Rip-off and Duplicate!!!!
You can see why there is such a slow progression in this market, folks get excited about a new graphic, but the underlying wakesurf board is the same ‘ol thing that’s been done for the last 5 years. Can you imagine that plane above, with a shiny color-change paint job, THAT’s the crap that folks do. Oh so cool! Color-change paint on your 70 year old design, that’s so RAD! No it’s not, it’s just different paint. Sheesh.
So we really don’t care about those folks, the; “look at my 70 year old tech and design with a different paint job.” We don’t mean they are stupid or anything, good for them that they’re happy with that. We just know there’s more and better than just a new or different laminate.
So we started thinking about some of the design stuff that is used. Thick EPS while a fine material, is just a holdover from ocean surfing. Not really all that applicable to the type of riding we do and probably not even the cheapest to build with.
Most skim style wakesurf boards are built with 5 pound or heavier density PVC foam. Most typically that’s Divinycell. Now Divinycell is a great foam, cross-linked PVC and it’s closed cell. EPS is great foam too, but has limits compared to something higher end like Divinycell. Remember the whole kool-aid drinking followers metaphor, well here is one. Divinycell is not used, in total, for surf style boards because of it’s weight. Wood stringers down the middle of a hunk of PolyUrethane or EPS and about 2+ inches of foam, are a nice weight and sturdiness balance. If that same shape were made from 5 pound density foam, it’d weigh a ton and not really perform all that well. Our wakesurf boards aren’t the same size and shape as a typical ocean shortboard. We just don’t ride 6’2″ x 2 7/8″ thick performance boards they would be total dogs. YET, we still use the same materials.
Skim style boards, which are way closer to our wakesurf surf style boards in terms of dimensions, are made from higher density foam, but they are super thin in comparison. 5/8″ thick is very common. For our surf style boards, 1.5 to 2 inches thick is a better thickness for the type of ride we want. So what do shapers do? Same as it ever was. It seems they are so busy cranking out a new graphic or rushing to their day job that they don’t even think of an alternative.
So, we will.
Let’s use some Divinycell as a core, this is a lightweight 3 pound density H45 Divinycell. There is some lighter weight material, but it’s hard to source. So we’ll start with this.
The very first thing we do is trace the outline from an existing shape onto the flat stock, we’ll trim that a little closer to our desired shape, but you can see we had to make the outline diagonally across the “1/4 sheet”‘ish of Divinycell. So from a production standpoint, we’d hope to be able to get 4 boards from a standard sheet or maybe 3. We’ll see, for now, that’s the plan.
That’s where we’ll end today, let’s break away from the me too’s and the kool-aid drinkers and see if we can build a lightweight responsive board that is made entirely of closed cell foam, that we can use to throw down sick wakesurf tricks. We’ll talk some about shear and it’s properties as it relates to wakesurf boards here soon. Sorry, we just have no new graphics to share!
Thanks for following along, we appreciate it.