Nov 27

Happy Thanksgiving

From all of us at Flyboy Wakesurf, to you and yours, we hope that your Thanksgiving Day holiday is filled with the joy of family and friends.

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We are taking the day off to be with our family and enjoy the season. We’ll be back tomorrow as we start the 720 weekend! We’ll have a short tutorial on landing an Ollie 720, plus a video demonstrating the trick, so be sure to tune in if you aren’t in a food coma!

Enjoy your holiday.

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Nov 26

America

We are rapidly approaching the Thanksgiving holiday and we sure hope that you get the opportunity to spend time with your family and friends.

We wanted to talk about the issues in Ferguson, MO for a minute. We are not just some huge corporate manufacturer without a soul or conscious. It’s just James and Jeff Walker. No board of directors to hide behind or that anonymity that so many folks LOVE. If you read this blog for any amount of time, you’ll come to know we are surely human, with opinions! Anyway, we were deeply affected by the death of Michael Brown. It is beyond tragic. No one argues against that point. We feel for the communities and family that lost a beloved son.

If you do a Google search for “the real issues in Ferguson” you’ll find millions and millions of OpEd pieces. From some notable individuals. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, to name just a few. Needless to say they have differing opinions on what is the root of the issues there. Justice Ginsburg refers to a form of segregation as a root cause, former Mayor Giuliani says that the white officer shooting of a black teenager is the exception, that 93% of all black homicide is committed by blacks.

Then we went to another site that focused on the issues surrounding south Asian immigrants and read an interesting article. It can probably best be summarized in this one sentence:

“Remember that the underlying problems that communities of color and immigrants face are similar—structural racism, economic distress, neglected neighborhoods. And give people opportunities to connect with each other to find solutions to these shared challenges.”

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We don’t profess to understand the far reaching ramifications of the situation, nor of what transpired on that fateful day.

We don’t doubt that there exists issues in Ferguson. We’ve dealt with folks that are just fine with a situation, because it serves their best interests, so they don’t listen to or pay attention to complaints or differences of opinion. We’ve even read folks that feel the ONLY thing to express are “positive vibes”, damn stoners. Like being one-dimensional is an answer to anything. We also understand the viewpoints of folks like Rudy Giuliani and he makes sense, although we are sure his perspective isn’t popular among many.

We even found one piece that opined it was neither race, nor the police, but instead the revenue generation systems within our communities:

“That’s what I fear too. The problem is not primarily race nor the militarization of the police in this case (though that doesn’t help) but rather the multiplication of authorized revenue-hunters seeking out those especially who can’t afford a lawyer.”

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All of these folks are learned peopled, with dramatically diverse opinions. It drives home the point that we all have biases, and our associations and situations form and reinforce those biases. That’s not a bad thing, so long as it’s recognized. We have a difference of opinion, rather than I’m right and you are obviously wrong because you don’t agree with me. Sort of like the two perspectives in the pictures we included. A sort of para-military police force and senseless looting of a liquor store that has NOTHING to do with the issue of justice.

We hope that Michael Brown’s death can create something beneficial in that community, and across America. The unrest there isn’t beneficial, but it does bring attention to what some within the community feel is a real problem.

We are proud of America and the system of justice within our great country. It’s not perfect and Lord knows there are countless examples of injustice perpetrated by it. We do believe it is better than any other and we support it, and this great country of ours. We feel deeply for the loss felt in that community and we pray for the family and friends of Michael Brown, and also that the community can find a way to resolve the tensions and create a better, stronger community.

Thanks so much for following along, we appreciate it.

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Nov 25

Flyboy Wakesurf Brand preview and more construction

We’ve done a little more on the construction of the documentation build and then we also want to show you a little preview of a second construction that we’ll soon be offering. We won’t go into too much detail in this post, but we will very shortly.

The top deck side of the Flyboy Wakesurf Branded James Walker signature model has a 6 oz carbon fiber layer, beneath the bamboo decking. This layer also wraps the rails, and continues on the bottom just to a fraction of an inch under the bottom bottom bamboo layer.

We start all of this with a a huge piece of Carbon Fiber!

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We realigned the fabric after this picture, it’s kinda heavy so wanted to slip off the blank before we could snap a pic, so we moved it over. We’ll get two pieces out of this section of cloth plus a reinforcement patch. Once we have it all aligned we start cutting! We want the fabric to overlap the rails and down under the bottom, so we allow for that extra area.

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Carbon fiber is a really stiff and thick fabric and wants to sort of spring back to it’s original shape, which ISN’T wrapped around the rails! In a molding environment, stiff fabric or fabric that has to be pushed into a vertical surafce, where gravity would cause it to fall of the surface, gets a dusting of 3M spray glue to hold the material in place, at least until resin can be applie, or the project placed under vacuum to consolidate the fabric to the underlying structure. We use that technique to hold our carbon fiber in place and to make sure that everything is perfectly aligned.

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We also use that squeegee to push the fabric down against the core of the board. Carbon Fiber really needs some form of vacuum assisted lamination techniques. It’s so stiff and thick that in order to get a good quality lamination, it needs the constant pressure from the vacuum to consolidate it tightly against the core.

One of the issues in many molded boards is excess resin. That resin gets trapped in between layers and doesn’t add any benefit to the board. The best practice is to add only the amount of resin needed and no more. High end molded products typically use pre-preg reinforcement fabrics, where the resin is introduced into the fabric before it’s shipped to the builder. This way the perfect amount of resin and ONLY that amount is included in the fabric. Once it’s inside the mold, the whole product is heated which causes the pre-preg fabric/resin to start curing. No excess resin and a perfect bond. Most molded boards don’t go through that expense or trouble and that is one reason that molded products get a bad name. Probably deserved, but not because of the process.

This board is uses a vacuum assisted approach, but it’s not technically molded. We bond each layer separately to insure that just the right amount of resin is used, not too little and not too much. It’s exceptionally time consuming, but there isn’t any other way to insure that the correct amount of resin is used, that everything is bonded appropriately and that we have a uniform distribution of resin and material all across the surface. We may not have talked about it adequately, but part of what the concave deck does, is balance the stiffness of the board across both the top and bottom. We get a uniform stiffness, so that the underlying shape can manage the flex and break strength. Engineered, if you’ll allow us that term. Back on topic, in order to do the secondary bonding, we need a rough surface. There are two type of bonds, chemical and mechanical.

We move through the process rather quickly, to insure that we still maintain a chemical bond between layers, but we also impart a rough surface between bonds to insure a good mechanical bond. We use peel ply for this step. It helps remove excess resin and also leaves a tiny pattern in the cured resin. It is preferred over sanding, because it is uniform everywhere and doesn’t leave a thin area of resin, as when sanding, so that everything is uniform across the entire surface.

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We drape the peel ply over the entire project and then cut it roughly to shape, with enough excess that all of the wet out reinforcement fabric is covered. When the peel ply is removed, it leaves a matt like finish, rather than the typical gloss we are accoustomed to with carbon fiber. This is what that looks like, after the peel ply is removed and the epoxy has cured.

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Ok, so that’s it for the construction details for today, we’ll get back to it in a little bit. We wanted to introduce you to a new construction process that we’ll be offering, in addition to the MONDO Beast Mode construction we are showcasing in this build thread.

As you’ve seen in this build thread, it’s crazy complicated, labor intensive and time consuming. Which also results in increased cost. This product, the “Premium Construction” will be one of those: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it, OR if you have to ask if you can make use of the technology, you can’t. We are the brutally honest, a no bullshit board company. We don’t want you to buy the higher end MONDO BEAST MODE construction if you can’t use it or afford it. There are tons of good boards out there that will work just fine for you. The board were are documenting, IS NOT of that genre. We won’t push it on you. Most likely if you call or send an email asking if it’s suitable for you, we’ll steer you away from it. We know! It’s crazy, but we aren’t about selling a gazillion boards, or selling that board to “sorta good” riders. That’s not our market, this board isn’t designed for those folks, other manufacturers meet that need really well. This will be for the select few that can use the technology and that appreciate the value…all three of you. :)

We also will have a LESS than MONDO BEAST MODE construction. Less labor intensive and robust, but of a quality and construction that will allow high end riders to feel the difference. We’ll describe the construction and performance attributes at a later date, but here is a quick glimpse of the board and construction. You can see it next to James’ contest board at the beginning of last season.

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We should point out one thing, the sort of jagged line around the carbon fiber perimeter frame, is just a pinline. This is a final prototype, for testing purposes. We plan to use pinlines between the clear foam area and carbon fiber, but that takes forever to dry and we didn’t have that much time with the season quickly coming to an end! We’re trying to take this board out this weekend, if we can beat the forecast rain!

Anyway, we’ll have the MONDO BEAST MODE Premium Construction and this slightly toned down version, which will also cost less! Not cheap, by any means, but it’s not a pop-out either. Both boards will be built 100% in the USA using quality materials available only here in the USA. We are excited to get back to hand built, in the USA boards!

Ok, that’s all for today, thanks so much for following along, we really appreciate it.

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Nov 24

Dusty Roads with James Walker and Flyboy

It’s Monday morning and that means another in our Flyboy Wakesurf Missing Summer series, this Episode 7 is entitled: Dusty Roads. Featuring James Walker and his Flyboy Wakesurf branded Signature model.

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It seems like everyday we read of someone else, putting their boat up for the winter. It’s started to get really cold here and we’ve actually had some rain here in Northern California! The ski resorts a few hours away are opening this week, so we’re close to putting our boat away, except to test to production, until spring. So here is the next eposide for your memory jogging pleasure.

For our mobile enabled friends, here is a link to that Flyboy Wakesurf Missing Summer series, Episode 7 – Dusty Roads, if the embed above doesn’t work for you.

We hope that brought back some good memories for you of this past summer, when the weather was warm, with the sunshine and the cool water of your lake.

Thanks so much for watching and following along.

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Nov 22

Did you see it?

The 15 minute recap of the 2014 WWSC?

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If you didn’t, and we aren’t sure how you missed it, it’s splashed all over every social media site, here it is.

We want to reflect on this video for a moment and also the significance of the WWSC.

That’s 15 minutes long! Most recap videos are maybe 2+ minutes and feature ONLY the sponsored riders of the party responsible for the video. There will obviously be some of that everywhere, but this video went way beyond and featured riders in virtually all of the non-amateur divisions. Virtually every single rider that made it to finals, has a spot. Unheard of, but such a welcome relief from the spam!

The quality of the production is what we’ve come to expect from Fineline Media, voice overs, the drone aerial shots, candid shots of riders and all their fans! It’s of a quality to rival any sports video ever produced. And you know that’s what it is, isn’t it? A production. Not an edit but a planned out produced video of the highest quality.

As we watched it, we started out sort of being amazed. We were expecting the same old formula that everyone uses, but then we started seeing highlights of the non-sponsored riders. Then it just flowed, it was the sort of epic documentary of the event, the sport. Of the vast number of riders that made up the event and we came to appreciate the cost and time involved in making this video a recap of the ages. From the very first WWSC, through all of the twisting turning gyrations into this institution of our sport. From the early days with just a couple of handful of the pioneers, thru the sideshow’ish years of being a tag-along to wakeboard event to where it is today.

It truly is more than just a contest, the World Wake Surf Championships has become an institution of our sport. EVERYONE wants to be there, everyone wants to compete and everyone brings back memories that we saw reflected in this video. We were thrilled when we saw James on the podium and a short clip of his riding in that crazy wind! But also of all the podiums, all of the joyous celebration and reflecting back on herding all of those kittens as we worked the dock! This is THE event in wakesurfing. Todd Gaughan and his crew have done an amazing job of dragging this contest from those early wannabe years as a sideshow, to the single most widely recognized wakesurf event and probably one of the biggest and baddest of any wake events.

That video, that format is freaking ballsy! It’s a huge risk to develop that video of wakesurfing! Do you see and understand the commitment and investment that was made? We can’t even imagine the cost to make that, but it’s not purely an advertisement like so many others are. It’s a recording of emotions and happenings of this glorious institution that reflects our sport.

Hats off to Todd Gaughan, VP of Market at Fineline and organizer of the WWSC, for having balls of steel plated in Titanium. It’s visionary and all in! Fineline Media on this too. Also, for representing the sport, the athletes and for investing both in capital and with risk, into this production that we are sure will become the format and benchmark that we will all look upon as the new standard.

Thanks for following along, we appreciate it.

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Nov 21

Almost season end

James Walker was able to get out for a few hours before it got dark, after work. With the time change it’s dark here at 5! We got some fun stylized pictures with James landing a back big sort of half in and out of the shadows, plus a tasty little clip for you.

Here is one of James Walker on his new Flyboy Wakesurf branded Signature model, caught mid back big.

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Here is another one with the sun behind James, that we liked a lot.

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We’ve also uploaded all of that sequence to our Flyboy Wakesurf Flickr page under the album Winter Back Big.

Here is that little clip, to get your weekend started right.

Here is a link to that winter back big video for our mobile enabled friends, if the embed above doesn’t work for you.

Oh and it was COLD!

We hope you all have a great weekend and thanks so much for following along.

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Nov 20

Concave Deck

We wanted to talk briefly about the newest improvement to the Flyboy Wakesurf branded James Walker Signature board, and that is the concave deck. The top of the board is sort of dished out. Here is a picture where we are sealing the foam and you can see the deck surface is sort of dished out.

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The vast majority of surf style boards have a convex shaped deck. That is the center line of the board where the stringer is, winds up being the thickest part of the board or at least the tallest of the board is laid down flat on a surface like a table. We’ve talked a gazillion times about how something THICKER becomes STIFFER. The trade off though is that it doesn’t always work well for the intended purposes. So we could make an UBER stiff board that was a foot thick, but it would suck out loud if you tried to surf it.

Skim Style boards are typically made from a sheet of high density foam, so the deck is flat, with just the rails sort of curved over. We’ve all seen them and just know by looking at them what the intended purpose of the board is.

Now way Way WAY back in the day, ocean surf boards were crazy thick. They were hollow wooden boxes and probably would reminded us of giant SUP’s at this point in time. Shapers of that era started playing around with going thinner, which improved performance of the boards, well at least they turned better. BUT, as those boards got thinner and thinner, they also started breaking and breaking and breaking! What was developed during that era was stringered blanks and then also this idea of a domed or convex deck. It made the boards GO, because when they were super thin, called potato chips or just chips, they were all floppy and they tended to break. So thicker in the middle and a vertical piece of wood was the answer!

What wasn’t fully understood at that point was that the domed shape was helping to resist compression forces from the opposite side. That is, the upward forces on the bottom of the board, were being effectively resisted by a convex or domed deck shape. We’ll demonstrate this in a moment, but we’ll offer up some anecdotal evidence that you’ve seen before and probably just ignored. If you have a modern era car, someplace on the car, hood, door, roof…some flat panel will have folds in it to create stiffer body panels on really thin sheet metal. Flat panels flex like a gymnast, those curves or bends reduce the flex in some specific direction.

So now you’re thinking convex vs concave and they actually resist forces in different directions? Yessiree bob!

Lets back up a little. Remember when we did that power of 3 post? Where we said 3 layers of whatever glued up was super stiff and would resist all manner of forces? Here is a picture of that demonstration to jog your memory.

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That’s amazing! Ok, so anyway, the LAYERS glued together, create a very effective flat panel stiffness. But you’ll remember we couldn’t do squat with just a single piece of paper. We should have just glued up 2 sheets of paper, because those results are just barely better than a single layer of paper.

We can also achieve really stiff panels by creating a concave in relation to the forces being applied. We’ll call that compression or pushing downward even though the push nazis want every single force in every direction referred to as push. We have something for you to push right here! So, here is a picture, we didn’t test it to failure, but you can see we are able to resist the downward/pushing/compression forces simply by creating a concave shape that is aligned in the direction of the force being applied.

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Nifty, huh? C’mon you know it is! But logically, we would expect that if we simply flipped that piece of paper over, such that the top surface of the paper now had a convex shape, similar to what our domed decks looked like, it would still resist that push/compression/downward force. Right? The stiffness increase in the picture above has to be associated with the curve and so any force applied anywhere should meet with the same resistance.

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Nope. Limp as a wet noodle. WTH?! Right?

So lets talk about why…ehhh, we really don’t understand why! There is a whole huge area of study that sort of explains it, but the best we can glean is that curve in the one direction improves tensile strength of the paper BUT does NOTHING to the otherside, just sort of bypasses everything. It’s kinda of interesting, if what you WANT is to improve JUST tensile strength in one direction, or on one side. Maybe specifically for some type of breakaway panel that offered resistance in one direction, but would just fold over if some force were applied from the opposite side. We can’t imagine it, but maybe there is some safety mechanism that would make sense for. Anyway, if you try and apply push/compressive/downward forces on the convex oriented paper, it just folds over. You know we don’t need to understand why, we just need to understand the effects, right?

Ok, so lets revisit our deck scenario…concave vs convex, by looking at bottom structure! You’ve no doubt heard of bottom concave creating a faster board down the line. It’s true and there are all manner of theories as to why. We once read a comment by Mike Daniels, eons and eons ago about why concave bottoms were faster. Basically he was cryptic saying, it probably did something else other than what the theories offered up. Mike is one of the lead shapers at Coil surfboards. Ok, so all of the nonsense about water flow forward or backward and thru just aren’t really applicable. But what is applicable, is a stiffening of the board against those upward flowing forces. So bottom concave, stiffens the board against forces that are lifting the bottom up. We’ve all experienced a board with too much rocker and what happens is that it turns into a plow! So, bottom concave really helps with stiffening the board against the upward/lifting forces of the wake.

But what about the top? The bottom concave really does nothing to the forces being applied from the top down. So between our feet that bottom concave really isn’t helping at all and you can imagine as surfing shifted towards more above the lip tricks, not shuvs mind you, but aerials, landing on the deck places TONS of downward/compressive/pushing forces on the deck with nothing to help resist that! The domed decks are convex and offer very little support and when you land from an aerial, the forces being applied from the top will be LARGER than the forces when you hit the water.

So what we did, was scoop out the deck! Right? The bottom of the Flyboy Wakesurf branded James Walker signature board has concaves on both the top and bottom! It’s this rather remarkable, if we do say so ourselves, uniform stiffness all over, without any attendant increase in weight or a weird centerline stiffness that dissipates towards the rails. It creates a stiffer, stronger and MORE RESPONSIVE board. We’ll get into that in future posts.

There are some other benefits that we’ll address at a later time, but we thought we’d introduce that concept and man you have to try that whole curved paper thing at home. It’s astonishing and so counter-intuitive. You’d think the curve would increase stiffness regardless of the direction of the force, but it doesn’t.

We should say that this is a dramatic over-simplification and that you’ll never have an open end on your surfboard, where there is nothing holding the curve on one side, but still the affect is the same, as you saw with the one example picture where it didn’t matter that the one end was open the concave could still resist the forces being applied against it.

Ok, thanks so much for following along, we REALLY appreciate it!

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Nov 19

Ghosties!

Not like in halloween, or Casper the Friendly one, or like the infamous movie Ghost Busters, but in reference to social media followers.

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Have you ever heard the term? Ghosties refers to folks that like or follow your social media account but NEVER engage in any sort of activity. They never like any posts, never comment, never tell you to pound sand. It’s like they were ghosts! Hence the term.

Now there are a number of reasons that ghosties sort of exist. Folks sort of stalking you, like business competitors tend to be ghosties. They don’t want to support you, but they want to know what you’re up to! :) Another is someone that creates a social media account and then stops using it. One last one is folks that want a weird inflated “followers” or “likes” number. They use that to sort of impress you. Kinda like 13 year old boys with their first girl friend interest; look at my collection of dog turds! :) We think probably the more common one is being nice. Social Media seems to be a LOT about reciprocity. If you like my page, I feel compelled to like yours back! Even though I have zero interest in you or your product! Right? We’ve all done stuff like that…oh geez, Joe Blow liked my picture, now I have to go like one of his pictures of some weird half eaten dinner! Who posts pictures of a half eaten meal, anyway?! Soooooo grossssss!

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Did you know that you can also buy facebook likes? Hell you can buy facebook anything’s! Video views, post or picture likes, comments and even shares. There are companies that ABOUND for that sort of thing. We read some post on facebook about the practice!

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It’s funny, we did a google search to find that short listing and it came back with 250 MILLION results. That’s more burgers than McDonald’s has sold! Ok, probably not, but you get the idea, it’s pretty common and we’d guess lucrative. We’ve seen software that automates it, so no doubt there are folks that create a gazillion fake accounts and then when they get an order, unleash the “LIKE APP” on your subject page or video.

We really like Facebook. It is a grand meeting place of epic proportions! We read something like 1/7th of the entire world’s population has a facebook account. When you factor in folks that live in areas where there is no internet, the percentage of people that live in more modern societies with facebook accounts must be ridiculously high.

Our family is spread all over the damn place. Nieces and Nephews on the east coast, cousins and uncles in Europe and then some of the folks we consider our extended wakesurf family live all over the globe! We kinda like to think of facebook as a giant Thanksgiving dinner where the whole family makes it to Grandma’s house for a few days and we get a chance to visit with everyone. Pass the mashed potatoes you hog! :) Right? If you have extended family say on the east coast like we do, and they are just getting started in life, they can’t travel across country everytime Joey, Jr. loses a tooth, or scores a home run. We don’t want to miss those moments. It would be just ridiculously laborious to call every relative with the amazing news that Joey, Jr. lost his first tooth or whatever the momentous occassion was. So facebook sort of allows folks to notify everyone.

Ok, so maybe you don’t believe in the toothfairy, but you know there have been pictures or posts that touch you in some manner and facebook helped that happen. We think in modern families, where work and economic conditions dictate a wider distribution of family than in more agrarian days of yore, social media is a wonderful thing! And it’s FREE! Well you have to have a device and an internet connection, but you get the idea, facebook iteself is basically free.

Let’s be honest, that will never last right? No one is going to provide that service to billions of people out of the kindness of their heart and that’s a good thing, really. It’s a wonderful service, tons of people love it, so someone should pay for it. Like Television. Most free programming, obviously isn’t, but for the vast majority of folks they aren’t paying for free programming, per se. It comes from advertising dollars. Really it’s a great format. Some of the commercials are actually entertaining. For facebook it’s a little different. If you have a business and you are on facebook, you should pay.

We here at Flyboy believe in that. We want to be supportive of our customers and fans and we love this giant gathering spot where we can maybe help you keep tabs on your newphew, Thomas, in Australia that maybe you could never see otherwise?! Was the toothfairy good to Thomas? We take the position that if we are using facebook in some fashion to make sales, we should pay for that and especially if it helps support our customers or potential customers.

But that doesn’t mean buying likes. That money goes to someone OTHER than facebook who is providing the service we all enjoy. What we do is “boost” a post. If you’re a business and you’re not doing that, you’re a damn deadbeat! You don’t have to spend $500 a post, but if you aren’t giving back something, shame on you! For example, we spent a whopping $240 last fiscal year in our sponsorship of posts for our facebook fan page. :) C’mon it’s something!

Now what that does, is facebook takes our money and then serves up, whatever post we designate, on folks feed more frequently. Think about a magazine for a moment, we’d never expect to have our ad or news run in a magazine for free, so if you want your “stuff” seen on facebook and you’re a business, kick in something! Right? And magazines are going to feature stuff about their advertisers.  Facebook probably never will, but you get the idea. WE do it to support the service and help folks keep track of their family and friends and…maybe it helps you make a sale. Or maybe the other way around, but we like the idea that it’s supportive of providing a free service to folks.  We don’t get obnoxious, or try not to. We prefer low key ads that aren’t really pushy sales. Mainly it’s just videos that demonstrate the use of the Flyboy Wakesurf branded board and we showcase James Walker, who is an owner of Flyboy. No doubt you’ve seen one of them, like this one from the weekend.

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So we pay Facebook, who then gets to provide YOU a free service that benefits your life. The cost to you, is if you don’t like some of the ads served up on your timeline, it’s kinda tough! Deal!

Back to Ghosties for a minute and then this whole idea of buying likes rather than “paying to play” directly to facebook.

Did you see the tiny number at the bottom of the video clip? 75 likes, 11 comments, 1.8K views and then there was also 13 shares. Those are all fairly normal distributions. Well actually we thought this one was a bit weak, but that’s only because we pushed the promotion a little and gave Facebook some extra money. It looks kinda impressive 75 likes! WooHoo! But lets dig a little deeper. Do you see that views count? Facebook just introduced a new ad product called Video Views. It’s supposed to serve up your video ads better, so to capitalize on that, if a businesses video is viewed more than 1,000 times, they proudly post that information! We had to laugh we read a blurb and someone was boasting that a video had been viewed twice as much as it actually was! When you go to the video, it’s like…ummmm, no it wasn’t! :)

Ok, so that video view is pretty impressive right? AND our total fan base is something like 3,200 some-odd, so that’s really good penetration, around 50%. But did you see the likes? 75? It’s a ton, don’t get us wrong, but lets do some math. 1,800 views and 75 said YES! Like it! and…1,725 said, ehhhh. :) Right? It’s about a 4.2% sort of like or “engagement rate” for likes. Lets do some math with round numbers, what if those video views were 10,000? And the like count was say 80? That’s 9,920 views where folks went…ehhhh. Ok, now to be fair, that can be duplicates, so if your mommy is watching 7,000 times, that will show up. But you get the idea, with more VIEWS there had better be a dramatic increase in something in terms of audience engagement, or you’d better be MORTIFIED!

We are also a tiny little interest. We figure we’ll never make it to 4,000 likes on facebook and if we did, how many of those would wind up being ghosties? Probably LOTS. We aren’t Coca Cola, or some giant boat company. We’ll only sell 2 board models, we just won’t have same same level of interest as say Walmart or someone offering 27 different models, or at least we shouldn’t! :)

Now one of the things that you can easily tell about purchased views and purchased likes is they are all whacked in terms of the distribution. Like more people sharing than actually liking. Right? What’s the first thing you do when you really like a post, picture, or video? You like it! Then maybe share it and probably at the very far end you comment on it. It’s human nature, facebook knows this and makes it crazy easy to like anything and everything and we’re all trained to do that! So 10,000 views and 80 likes is something less than 1%. Our 75 out of 1,800 is something like 4.166% We normally shoot for 15%!!!! So we weren’t thrilled with the results of that last effort. Better than a sharp stick in the eye, but we gave Facebook $6 too much! Thank God it wasn’t less than 1%, can you imagine?

Ok, so we just learned something there! The normal’ish distribution is probably LIKES the greatest, shares and comments substantially less (because you have to type something!) if you see a distrubtion outside of that, where it makes you go – what? Trust your gut!

So where do ghosties fit into all of this? Well you really REALLY want ALL of your fans and potential customers in love with your content. We have about 3,200 or so fans and we got 1.8K views. If all of those views came from fans, that leaves us with 1,400 folks that didn’t even bother to play the video! Dear Lord! When facebook is looking to serve up news and posts, which one do you think they are going to serve up first? The account with 100% engagement or the one with less than 50%??!! Having 5, 10 or 20 thousand fans that typically ignore your ass doesn’t mean anything! Ghosties actually harm your presence on a social media site. So, that’s why we prune them! We also just found this article on facebook changing it’s algorithm for what stories and promoted posts reach your timeline, making it even harder for business pages like the Flyboy Wakesurf page to get it’s story out!

We’ll be honest about something. Our InstaGram account got wildly out of control. That site requires just tons of work and we probably got tired of looking at half eaten pizza. Anyway, we had something like 1,700 followers, but over 600 of them had never liked or commented on a single picture or video. We were following strange accounts like RussianCaviarHouse. WTH? It’s no wonder they never commented on any of our content on IG, we have nothing to do with fish eggs!!! Anyway, that’s close to half! Holy crap! So, we are in the process of deleting those folks from our IG account and normally what happens is they stop following us, which would get us back to a better ratio of engaged folks. Does that make sense? Ok, lets use round numbers again and we apologize for being cryptic! Lets say we have 2,000 folks following us, but only 1,400 are actually engaged with our content; liking and commenting and doing things like that. If we could magically get rid of the 600 ghosties what happens with our engagement ratios? It goes from 70% to 100%!

And internally, when IG is looking at how to determine popularity and sort of feature content, we have a far better chance of getting in THAT selection if we are followed only by engaged folks!

So kiss off Ghosties! :) Also, now you are kinda armed with some good information about what those numbers mean with businesses. Engagement is probably meaningful, especially if it’s consistent. Wildly fluctuating engagement is probably a result of the high results being paid for, not in serving up the ads or pictures, but paid to a third party liking service!

Also, man if we unfollow you on IG, we’re sorry. It’s not personal, it just means that you’ve never liked or commented on us, and probably just liked or followed us to be nice. Ahhhh, you’re very sweet. We appreciate it!

Man, that turned out waaaaayyyy longer than we expected. Anyway, now you have some useful information upon which to make some informed decisions. Plus, we shared our philosophy about sponsored or boosted posts. If you’re using facebook as part of your marketing plan, do the right thing and pay those folks something. You’ll also be supporting your customer base by insuring they’ll still be able to keep up with little Thomas in Australia.

Thanks so much for following along, we really appreciate it!

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Nov 18

Pre-Sealing EPS foam

We’ve finished the first pass of the shaping and we thought we’d share a step that we take before we start applying the external reinforcement and skins. It’s a process referred to as “sealing the blank” and it entails covering the foam and filing in any imperfections with a slurry of something. We use only epoxy with some additives, but we’ve seen everything from spackle to elmers white glue with dust mixed in. Yikes!

photo 1

So lets talk a minute about why we do this. Most hand shaped boards, by knowledgable shapers are sealed in some fashion. There are a few reason, one is to create a perfect surface for the external lamination. As we’ve talked about, EPS foam is expanded beads of polystyrene foam and they are irregular in their shape and alignment in the foam block or blank. As the shaper is shaping the blank, occassionally a bead will get pulled out, those areas are called pukas. :) They aren’t a problem structurally, but look like hell and so for cosmetics, many shapers will fill that in so that the area is smooth and even all around. Another reason is for structural integrity. In that puka, that we just referred to, what would happen if we just glassed right over that? There wouldn’t be any support underneath the external fiberglass, would there? It’s just a void in the underlying foam, so directly underneath the external glass where there are voids, would wind up being weaker. We all recognize this. Imagine a piece of lumber with a bunch of holes drilled through the surface and then lets cover that whole hole’y surface with a sheet of copier paper. What areas will be stronger? The areas without the holes under the paper, right? If you went around poking your finger onto the surface of the paper, you’d most likely poke THRU the paper without any support underneath. So, structurally, we want the entire surface supported.

Lastly, lets think about an English Muffin. The best damn breakfast bread on the planet!

20090513-english-muffin

When you toast those babies and then spread some butter across the surface, what happens? All those nooks and crannies fill with yummy butter…not so much on the surface. If you want some extra resin all over, that’s a great idea, but not so much when you are trying to spread epoxy resin across the surface. We want an equal distribution of resin and reinforcement across the surface. If there are voids, the resin will drain off the reinforcement material and sort of puddle in those voids, leaving a weak and dry area on the reinforcement. Also, that little pocket filled with resin is now stiffer and very brittle compared to the surrounding area.

So, those become the main reasons for sealing EPS foam. One cosmetic and two structural. Now, as we said most shapers of high end boards will seal EPS prior to lamination. Most molded EPS boards don’t because it’s too much work, but also the process of molding when the internal foam is used in a process of compression, will just pop the sealing material off the foam! Instead the EPS is just filled with whatever laminating resin is applied with the results mentioned above.

A quick picture that we wanted to show you of the pukas that are possible with EPS. This was before we had done the final shaping of the bottom. If you look closely at the bottom and the shadows you can see where some of the foam balls have been pulled out. Now we are sealing both divinycell and EPS foam altogether in one fail swoop! So we use a slurry of epoxy and some fillers. Qcell, Microballoons, Cabosil, etc are all things that are used and serve the same purpose. It’s to lighten up the resin and make it thicker. We want to prevent the sealing mixture from running off any non flat surfaces, like the rails. Plus, Qcell and Micros are easier to sand that straight resin! So we mix up and batch and then spread it all over the entire surface, including the rails and all vertical surfaces.

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We like to start with the deck side, as that has the greatest surface area and requires the most care.

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While we have that picture up we wanted to bring your attention to one small thing. We spend a LOT of time building the core of these boards. We want them to last and perform well. One of the areas that tends to be an issue for pointed nose boards is the very tip can get punished. Slamming into the transom or the ground. If you look at the very tip of this blank you’ll see a sort of dark grey/brown tip. We use a significantly higher density foam for the very tip. It’s about an inch or so square and shaped to contours of the tip. It’s one of the small details that we include and that higher density foam is more resistant to all those unintentional hits against hard surfaces. Takes more time and it’s more expensive but what can we say, we think YOU’RE worth it! :)

Back to sealing, we do the same thing to the bottom. We do one side, let that cure then do the other side, typically on a different day.

photo 3

After that has cured, we hit it with some sandpaper to knock down any high spots and remove any excess material. What we want is a nice perfectly smooth surface, with no pukas and all of the nooks and crannies filled in.

The next step will be to start attaching the external reinforcements and our bamboo veneer. If you haven’t ever built a board before, you can see how laborious and time consuming they can be. We use a non-molded sandwich structure, which is ridiculously labor intensive. We use vacuum bagging techniques to give us the best consolidation of the materials, at the lightest possible weight. That too is very labor intensive.

If you’re a serious gearhead, or just want to gain a better understanding of how labor intensive some of these things are, there is a GREAT video at the end of this thread on Swaylocks. This is a repair, but you can see them sealing the divinycell about 3 or so minutes in. You simply have to pre-seal divinycell to prevent excess resin intake and to get a uniform application of resin. Lots of high volume manufacturers don’t, because of the extra cost and some due to the molding process itself, where the foam is BENT to shape, rather than being formed prior, which can typically just pop the sealing agent right out! As we’ve said, we understand sandwich building and we DO IT lots and lots. We simply don’t cut any corners because we know where problems arise and pride ourselves in building the best product we can.

Also, we want a uniform application of resin like that, and hand laminators PRIDE themselves in squeeging in the perfect layer of resin, the board responds and reacts uniformly across the entire surface. Every square inch of the lamination reacts and responds like the rest of the board. If the surface wasn’t sealed in that manner, like with the English Muffin, the pockets that are left as voids, or filled with resin and then the resin starved reinforcement directly above will necessarily react differently than other areas of the board done correctly. In short, it’s extra work, more labor, but results in a better most consistently performing board.

So that’s it for today, thanks so much for following along, we really appreciate it!

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Nov 17

Episode 6 – After the Season

Episode 6 in our Flyboy Wakesurf Missing Summer Series titled ‘After the Season’ featuring James Walker killing it on his Flyboy Wakesurf branded signature model.

Snapshot - 50

We know so many folks have had to put their boats away for the season, so we hope this will bring back fond memories of your summer!

For our mobile enabled friends here is a link to the After the Season video, if the embed doesn’t work for you.

We hope that you had a great weekend and you’re remembering the fun you had this past summer!

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