You probably know that bicycle wheels are basically huge gyroscopes. We are able to stay upright at speed, because of the rotating mass. But what happens when the wheels stop moving? You’ll fall over. The pivot point of your bike wheel is exactly in the middle, which makes for a smooth ride. If you’ve watched cartoons as a kid, you’ll probably remember funny episodes which featured stone age characters riding square stone wheeled bikes with wood frames.
But there is something interesting about that concept, round objects will revolve around a center point really well, as long as there is equal distribution of weight around that center point. You no doubt have seen wheel weights on cars, that help balance out the weight so that our car wheels don’t have that odd out of balance shimmy.
Now, skim boards don’t look round, they are elongated ovals, but interestingly enough, the general shape tends to locate the mass of the board around a center point. So the wide point of the board is really close to center and the further away the ends get from that center, the narrower they get. In effect, the mass or weight of the board itself is really close to being distributed equally around that center point, even though it doesn’t look that way.
Surf style boards, not so much. They have multiple, huge-ass fins and typically a much wider tail than nose. As surf style boards have evolved, getting shorter and shorter, much of the nose has been removed. Out in the ocean, surfboards have really long extended noses, some of that is to aid in catching waves and to prevent pearling the nose, but also what does that extra length do in terms of the mass of the board? It’s putting mass way the hell out in front isn’t it? What would that do in terms of adjusting the balance point of those ocean surfboards? It’s moving it forward, some, isn’t it?
Let’s give another example. When you used to carry your school books back in grade school, did you pile them up and then extend your arms straight ahead of you with your arms stretched out? No, because they would get heavy as all hell! It’s like a lever, isn’t it? Pulling down on your arms like that would wear you out in just a few minutes, but if you hold them closer to your body, they didn’t seem as heavy. That’s the simple concept of a lever, the longer the lever, the less force is required on the longer side, to exert a higher force on the shorter side.
So, two boards of the exact same shape and weight are balanced on this balance point, now we add 1 pound in the form of a foam block to the very end of the nose of one of the boards. Where is the balance point on that board? It’s shifted forward towards the nose, isn’t it? It has more weight forward, so to balance it, now, we have to shift that point forward, which in effect puts more weight on the tail “section” from the balance point to the tail. So when we add weight or also volume, which brings weight, to one end or the other it shifts the balance point.
Hopefully we didn’t mutilate that explanation too badly, we’re sure folks understand the concept intuitively, so we’ll move on!
So what happens when you shorten the nose of a wakesurf board, say with just changing the length or chopping off the nose? You move the balance point backwards, right? Less weight further out, will cause that balance point to shift closer to the area with more weight.
Were folks doing that? Were folks shortening boards and then rebalancing the surf style boards? No, of course not. So we had some really weird shapes, and still do. Extending the nose to then blunt it off in effect moves weight further out, but they also ride like 5’4″ foot long boards.
So, like we said yesterday, we were NOT paying attention. The rules changed without anyone noticing or discussing it and we were sort of stuck back in the “giving it the good fight” days of yore. Surf style is skim style. Wake up! We want to show a drawing, it’s crappy, but you can get the talking points from it.
In a typical skimmer, the board is basically the same thickness throughout and there isn’t much in the way of fins, usually a single fiberglass fin in the back. So for the most part, the balance point is right in the middle of the boards overall length. Maybe just a tad behind, but really close, to the center.
That’s not the case with the typical surf style board, is it? The most common outline for surf style boards have a LOT of volume in the tail, as opposed to the fairly narrow and thin noses. Also, huge fins and traction set back there, if you attempt to find the balance point of a surf style board, they tend to be further back towards the tail because of this extra weight and volume, at least compared to skim style boards.
How would you expect the surf style board to rotate on a horizontal plane? With that tail heavy arrangement? Not really very well, huh? Pushing or kick FROM the tail would tend to cause the board to rotate around that center of mass. You’ve most likely seen it where folks kick the board wildly out of control across the wake. It’s like throwing that “hammer” deal in the Olympics, it just goes in the direction of the extra weight. We have talked before about how we have engineered the Flyboy with the balance point a bit more forward, but we were striving for center point, or balance point between the feet. That was close, but it’s not optimum for this shift from surfing to shuv’ing. The skimmers have that figure out and that balance point is closer to the middle of the board, so when a skilled rider does a shuv, the board rotates more closely on that center point.
Not that it’s impossible to shuv a standard surf style board, but it’s a hell-of-a-lot easier when the balance point is more centered. That’s not really true, 3 shuvs and related tricks are easier that way, the standard 180 shuv, is probably less affected. We have likened it to that bike wheel we talked about above, if the wheel was all oblonged, it will still rotate, but the tendency is for the longer side or area to spin further out and away from center. Getting the balance point more close to the center length of the board, allows it to rotate easier and is a little more forgiving in the rotations. That is you can kick it slightly off center and it still tends to rotate like you’d hope!
So as we were thinking about this shift in scoring criteria from surf to skim, we thought about how to make our existing shape, which James has ridden for almost a decade now, more shuv-friendly. The future of surf style, will be shuv based…well at least while the current powers that be are doing their thing. The next group may return to the days of the split in the divisions, we’ll see.
One of the things, we determined, that’s needed was to add some weight FORWARD. We tried adding just a touch way out towards the nose and it moved the balance point forward alright, but had a tendency to cause some erratic spins. It was easy to offset the smaller amount of nose weight with donkey kicks off the tail! So we added MORE weight, but also started moving it back. This picture, that we showed yesterday IS NOT what we are using today, but you get the idea. Move the balance point MORE and MORE TOWARDS the center.
What we were looking for was THIS, mid 3 shuv, probably a foot and a half above the lip.
Nice flat horizontal rotation. AND where is it rotating? Right around the center of the board, or close to it, which makes it much easier to control.
Now again, we won’t kid you, we hate the ego-driven drivel: best boards ever! Win the intergalactic championship with this board! Oh lord spare us, right? What do you do when you read that shit? You literally ignore it don’t you? We read a great study about social media and something like 3/4′s of the respondents said social media ads had NO IMPACT on their buying decisions. So Facebook, the leader in social media starts making it harder for businesses to have their message heard, without paying for it and when it is heard, 75% of folks ignore it!!!! Anyway, James Walker is an amazing rider, easily one of the best in the world. What we’ve done here is develop a board that will help him as the contest riding shifts from surf to skim. Also, he rides behind the Supreme V226, which isn’t used in ANY contests this year. He has to be able to adapt quickly and easily to whatever the wake is during a contest. That’s ridiculously hard.
If you can develop your tricks and compete behind your boat, you are at a decided advantage, so we have to help offset that for James, so that when he goes to do a 3 shuv, he doesn’t have to sort of tame the board in this new environment, it will want to rotate and behave the same way, everywhere.
Will you be able to toss 3 shuv’s on it? Well, if you can do a 3 shuv, sure, but it won’t magically do them for you. Will this sort of construction and R&D assist you in learning tricks like that front big that James landed? Yeah, we’re sure of that.
Speaking of that front big, James mid front big with that flat horizontal rotation.
We’ll wrap this discussion up tomorrow, thanks so much for following along!