Nov 13

Core foam

The vast majority of “surf style” wakesurf boards are made from EPS foam. We’ve read sales details from ocean surfboard manufacturers that show Polyurethane is still the most popular core foam in the ocean. Ad you no doubt are aware, a single manufacturer controlled most of the production of Polyurethane blanks, used in surfboard manufacture and he suddenly shut down operations without warning. Surfboard shapers sort of scrambled to find alternative sources for blanks and also alternative materials. EPS foam was one of the materials that made a significant inroad into surfboard blank market and surf style wakesurf production joined that change. Skim style boards are mostly made from Divinycell, well the high end boards are.

So EPS is a funny foam, it’s comprised of a bunch of small hollow beads all mashed together. Inside the beads is a blowing agent and air. To make this post less laborious, lets just call it AIR. So those beds are like tiny little tennis balls. A thin shell of plastic and thien inside it’s all air. In fact, EPS foam is MOSTLY air. Now when we say “mostly” we are talking something like 98% air in many cases. So 2% plastic and 98% air. That’s WAYYYYY mostly air. You can also get the idea, it’s probably not very structurally sound. AIR and really all gases are compressible, you learned that in your 5th grade science class. Solids and liquids aren’t compressible, but gases and air in particular are. All foams are basically some form of solid material, usually plastic and then air or soe type of gas. The air that is trapped inside the plastic helps give it a lighter weight and also allows the foam to compress, somewhat. Higher density foams are made by changing the ratio of foam to gas.

So a higher density foam would have MORE plastic and LESS gas than a lowers density foam of the same materials.

What is it about air, and gases in general, that allows it to be compressed? In comparison with solids and liquids, the individual particles (atoms or molecules) of any gas are quite far apart from one another, with nothing but a vacuum in between them. Therefore, when pressure is applied to a gas, the particles can be squeezed closer together.

So EPS foam must simply be amazing stuff to be used in wakesurf boards! No, it really is shitball foam. It was principally designed to be used as wall insulation, and cheap wall insulation at that, but it was one of the alternative foams that was made popular when urethan blanks became scarce.

Here is a fun little demo. Let’s apply some compressive forces to a chunk of eps foam and see what happens.

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Right? That’s some force! Can you guess what happened to the foam under the truck tire?

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It gets mashed to about half it’s original height and then the tire tread is left in the top side of the foam. BUT did you notice what didn’t happen? It didn’t break apart, did it? The underlying EPS beads all got smashed and deformed, but somehow they seemed to stay stuck together. So EPS foam’s sort of magic is that it can get squashed, but stay together. So it’s not really structurally sound, but it’s light and doesn’t break into a gazillion pieces with extreme compressive forces. Some other foams, when faced with this sort of force fail by crumbling into a gazillion pieces, so that’s not a great thing either!

Ok, so lets apply that to some linear PVC foam. It’s hard to see, but it’s a small chunk under the front wheel.

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It’s a little hard to see, but there is some deformation, but also a small piece broke off at the leading edge of where the tire rolled over it.

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That’s pretty common with linear PVC foam. It’s brittle and it will deform under extreme compressive loads.

Now, outside of skim style boards, divinycell / cross linked PVC foam is used as a skin, but it’s actually designed to be used as a core material in composite sandwiches. The reason is that it offers great shear properties, it bends and deforms really well! BUT and this is important, it doesn’t typically lose it’s shape or at least not much.

Are you confused?! We’re sorry, the point that we are making is that the strength and durability of wakesurf boards isn’t in it’s core, it’s in the exterior lamination. It’s the glass job that makes the difference! That’s really true of ocean style surf boards and skimmers all over.

EPS foam was not a great choice as a core for anything, it was originally designed as wall insulation. BUT, as EPS foam became more viable as surfboard foam, manufacturers like Marko and WNC started refining the processes focusing on making it more suitable for surfboards. Rather than focusing on getting as much air inside for insulation purposes, the focus became getting more beads and plastic stuffed in the same space (surfboard) and aligning the bead walls to improve compressive forces. 1 pound foam still kinda sucks. It’s just hard to do much with a foam that is 98% air. BUT what firms like Marko and WNC were able to do is improve compressive strength with EPS foams in the 1.5 thru 1.9 pound density range. AND that’s why we switched from the old school 1 pound density foam core. Luckily, we build and test all of the boards that Flyboy Wakesurf constructs. We know and understand vacuum bagging and as you’ll see in this build thread, we use it all the time.

We don’t rely on someone else to tell us how something should be built, we know and we develop the structures. We’ll be honest, we’d prefer that you trust us that think we are 100% perfect all the time. Lord knows we aren’t but we test and build and refine AND fail a bunch. So that when we settle on a construction, it’s because we couldn’t get it to fail.

If you’ll refer to the pictures above, when we ran over the two separate foams we did damage. So now lets do the same thing to our newest composite structure that James has been riding for about 3 years, we’d guess.

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That isn’t the best picture, we actually rolled back a few more inches but can’t seem to find the picture. BUT you can see that there is a ton of weight on the structure. AND this is the result!

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Pretty much unscathed. Now, we’ll go into the details of the construction as we detail the build out, but the core is a molded 1.5 pound density and the exterior is laminated with fiberglass, epoxy and bamboo veneer. The process that we use to laminate the veneer to the EPS core allows the load to be dispersed over a much larger are. So the EPS foam gets to do it’s thing as being able to compress and compact, but we spread that load over a much larger area so the foam doesn’t fail in compression. As we mentioned in a previous post, bamboo is stronger than mild steel in the same thickness. We’d also like you to take note that we used a relatively small section of this composite structure, compared to the other test samples. It basically does it’s job very well that we can get by with a smaller cross sectional area.

It’s kinda nifty!

A few things to take away, one is that we stay on the leading edge of developments in foam makeup, because manufacturers like Marko and WNC are always improving. Then we work with their improvements to enhance our own construction. As we said we only use the best materials in manufacturing. It’s a ton of work and and it’s not cheap, but we believe that it results in the most advance products and really keeps us relevant in terms of technology. It’s something YOU can trust. Also, we test and refine and do it again and again. There is almost the constant state of development in EPS foams, epoxy resins and the various reinforcement materials. We literally are obsessed with keeping up to date with those developments and employing those that make a substantive difference. You simply can’t rest on your laurels or rely on someone else to dictate how you’ll make something.

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

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Nov 12

Composite structure design

We are a little under the weather, so this post might be a little short. If we review it and find omissions, we’ll come back and correct it! Thanks for your understanding.

We want to share a picture with you that we think is genius.


Now if you aren’t from cattle country, that probably just looks like a lake picture. Well it is, but we are more interested in the fence. Looks like a barbed wire fence, right? Actually yes and no. The top and bottom strands are what are commonly referred to as cable or barbless cable. It’s a double strand wire but without any of the barbs. The remaining three strands are common ordinary barbed wire.

Now if you aren’t familiar with barbed wire or cable, barbed wire is nasty stuff. It’ll cut your flesh in a heartbeat and it will do the same to many animals. The bottom cable, is set up so that domestic animals like dogs and then smaller wild animals like raccoons and bobcats can make it to the water without being injured. The top strand is cable for the same reason, but that is designed for deer that can easily jump a fence that height on their way to water. The barbless cable protects them from dragging a leg or smaller deer that might not quite clear the fence.

The remaining 3 strands are, in the middle, good old barbed wire and those are very effective in keeping cattle inside the fence line! Cows also learn that barbed wire hurts and so they most likely see 5 strands of barbed wire!

For the uninitiated, it’s just a fence, or maybe they just see the water in the background! Nothing wrong with that, but certainly if you are designing a fence line, or buying one; more knowledge can only help. Grizzled old ranchers are probably thinking, damn tree huggers! :) Man we looked at that and thought how ingenious it is. Protecting animals that migrate to the water, and taking into consideration all parties. The design manages wild animals, small and large. Domestic animals and also allows folks to enjoy the lake and surrounding woodland.

We also find that composites allow for this sort of engineering. We can identify specific needs and then add or subtract elements specifically for a particular need. Higher density foam along the rails for impact resistance and perimeter weighting for example.

We’ll talk about core materials in the not too distant future and how composite structures can be designed, like that fence line to address more than a single concern, like lower weight or more durability.

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Thanks so much for following along and for being patient with us while we’re not feeling 100%.

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Nov 11

The power of 3

Did you have a good weekend? We sure hope you did and that you are enjoying a day off here on Veterans’ Day.  We would like to take a moment to thank all of you reading this that are veterans. We enjoy a wonderful life of freedom and we owe that to your brave service for our country and ideals.  We recognize that freedom is never free and we are indebted to you, each and every one, who have sacrificed so that we may enjoy the many freedoms our great country offers. Thank you.

Before the weekend break, we had talked about explaining why we used 3 layers of the high density cross linked divinycell to make up the rails, rather than just a single layer of 3/4″ material. We had talked at length about why we “engineered” the rail build up. We can’t really claim that advance as our own virtually all high quality sandwich board builders use that approach. Sunova, Josh Dowling, Firewire, literally every manufacturer that makes a high quality sandwich board whether it be mass produced or custom uses this same rail build up process. Most mass produced lower quality sandwich boards don’t, because it’s so expensive and time consuming to do! Much easier and cheaper to completely eliminate the rail material. As we have mentioned several times before, we simply don’t cut corners, preferring to make a quality product that lasts.


So back to the power of 3. The first reason is durability. With 3 layers of material built up along the rail, if you DO suffer a huge ding or catastrophic hit to the rail, there is a form of redundancy! You could break the very first outside rail layer and you’ll still have two more layers between you and the water AND a ruined weekend. You’d want to fix it, but the divinycell is a closed cell foam and is completely waterproof. So, go ahead and break a layer, there won’t be any water making it into the core or underneath anything. Plus, the board will still ride well enough to finish your weekend. It won’t be 100%, obviously, but you’ll be able to continue riding until you can get it fixed.

A single layer of 3/4″ material, or worse, just a covering of 3 mm with no substance underneath will snap with a substantial ding. It will be weak, you’ll feel it and water will make it’s way through to the core. So, those two very practical reasons; less prone to failure with redundant layers and it saves your weekend in the event of a catastrophe! :)

Now for the amazing power of 3! It sounds like an action hero. We apologize for the hype, wakesurf advertising is almost insulting at times. We try to avoid it at all costs, shiny objects, ridiculous claims and pictures that are proclaimed to be death defying! Whatever.

So the power of 3 relates to laminating 3 layers of anything and how that will increase stiffness. It also increases tensile and compressive strength. You can try this at home, it’s fairly straightforward. The first thing that we did was take two sheets of notepad paper and cut them in half lengthwise. It creates 4 roughly equal shapes. This isn’t exactly scientific, so the pieces are just roughly the same.

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You can see the quarter in the middle right side of the picture. We took one of the sheets of paper and attempted to place the quarter at one end and then hold it up by simply grabbing the other end. Like maybe a spoon, pick it up by the handle and then lift the quarter at the other end. Can you guess what happened? Exactly, the paper just curved and bent until the quarter slid off. We all know that because we know how flimsy a sheet of paper is. So the answer is thicker paper! Of course! So we grabbed an old file folder and obviously that will fix the problem!

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No, it doesn’t, even though we’d THINK that would do the trick. The problem is that it’s freakin’ paper and while the file folder paper IS thicker than our note pad paper, it’s simply not up to handling the load of the quarter way out at the end. So, stiffer, yes, just not stiff enough to manage this amount of downward force. Oh shoot, is that push also? :) Anyway, you get the idea, the single layer of paper whether it be note pad paper or file folder paper isn’t stiff enough to manage the load.

Now, since it’s not paper thickness, is there anything that we can do with flat sheets of paper to make it handle that load? Amazingly enough, if we glue up three layers of the thinner note pad paper, it will manage the load of the quarter. Here is a picture and then the explanation as to why this works.

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There you go! Easy as pie! What’s happening whenever there is a force like that applied to an object, there are 3 things that are going on. On the surface there is a compressive force pushing down on the surface of the paper composite. On the bottom, the paper is trying to stretch away from the force. Remember when we talked the other day about snapping a twig? As you bend it, the inside of the curve of the twig is in compression, the outside of the bend is actually being stretched, trying to bend around a larger curve than on the inside. That’s tension or tensile forces. The inside of that 3 layers of paper is in shear. It’s trying to move or slide around sort of matching the compressive forces from the top and the tension forces on the bottom. A single homogeneous material of the same thicknesses as our three sheets of paper can’t do that.

Well that’s not true it just can’t do that as effectively as three separate pieces affixed in a composite.

So how effective is that power of 3? We saw that a single piece of paper or a file folder couldn’t manage the load of a single quarter, but the 3 layers of note pad paper could. Wanna try 8? Let’s put that into perspective in terms of quantifying the force. We want to see if it can handle 800% more load than what caused the other two test sheets to fail.

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Tada! Like a boss!

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We should make a note. That wasn’t to failure. The 800% increase in load didn’t make the 3 layer paper composite actually fail, whereas the single quarter load made both of the single ply test panels fail. We didn’t try and test it to failure, but you get the idea. The 3 layers of the paper composite is well over 800% stronger and stiffer than the single ply test panels.

Now we used plain old elementary school grade white glue. It’s not some fancy epoxy or polyester resin. The “binding agent” just needs to be as strong as the individual layers, or the paper in this case. Again this wasn’t scientific. You’ll have to trust us a little on this. The 3 layers of paper, when glued together, were approximately the same thickness as the file folder. We don’t really know the makeup of the paper elements. Obviously switch from paper to maybe say titanium of the same thickness would make a difference, if you could find it and afford it! However, in a relatively simple manner, gluing up three layers of anything dramatically increases stiffness and strength. It’s obviously more labor intensive, and more expensive, but works a SHITLOAD better.

So there you have it. It’s not pretty or shiny. It’s not a mega buck video production, but then we aren’t about that. We bring you the details of our construction…well partly because we’re proud of it! Right? We’ve worked hard at understanding and then engineering that into wakesurf boards and we WANT you to see it and know it. We also think that most folks just roll their eyes at all advertising. Right? You don’t really believe that you’ll play b-ball like Michael Jordan if you wear his shoes. So we show you and explain why we do what we do! We really believe that if we are straightforward and show you why we do what we do, you can make an informed decision. This 3 layer rail build up will help you ride batter, it’s stiffer and stronger, plus offers tons of other practical benefits, like simply being sturdier. There are plenty of shiny objects out there, we just aren’t one of them. Maybe that should be our new tagline: Not a shiny object. :)

Thanks a bunch for following along, we really appreciate it. We know so much of this is dry and boring, so if you made it through the whole post we love you!

Oh! We keep forgetting to mention this. We host all of our pictures on a website called You’ll see them in the posts, but they are actually being pulled over from We have literally thousands of pictures over there. Everything from James landing tricks to our build process. If you get a second, please check out all the pictures at our Flyboy Wakesurf Flickr page.

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Nov 10

Episode 5 – Did you say Wheat Bran?

Every time we log on to a social media site we read that more and more folks have put away their boats for the season.


Hopefully you’re snowboarding or doing other fun winter activities, but we know you hardcore wakesurfers are missing their boats right about now!

Here is Episode 5 in our Flyboy Wakesurf Missing Summer series, we call this one Did you say What Bran? You can find a new episode each week on Sunday at our Flyboy Facebook page, or here at on Monday.

For our mobile enabled friends, here is a link to Episode 5 of our Flyboy Wakesurf Missing Summer series, of the embed above doesn’t work for you.

Thanks so much for following along and we hope you’re not missing summer too badly.

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Nov 08

Rail build out

Finally! See we told you we’d get there! Sadly, just not when we promised. We want to talk a little about rails and dings and perimeter weighting. All you favorite things, we’re sure!


Have you ever put a ding in your board? We all have, it seems inevitable on a boat with boards. Tons of chopped strand matt encased in polyester resin makes for a hard surface and with so many pointy’ish surfaces, then lets add in some water on a board, maybe a little wax and BOOM one is bound to slip out of your hand and slam into the corner of some hard surface.

Where does that ding ALWAYS happen? On a rail, or the back surface of the tail or on the nose, also along the rail at the nose or tail. It makes sense, because the full weight of the board is slammed against some hard surface on a small little area of the board, like 1/2″ x 1/2″. Dings typically don’t happen along the bottom or deck, because those impacts are spread over a larger surface area.

We always hated that and wanted to somehow minimize those impact derived dings. Or at least develop a construction that wouldn’t ruin your day if you did get a ding. So what we did was surround the whole perimeter with not 1 but 3 layers of Divinycell cross linked PVC foam. Not a tiny little 3 mm layer, but 3/4″. Literally 600% what an average sandwich board would have. That higher density foam, out along the rail absorbs more impacts than unprotected EPS foam in conventional construction and also significantly more than most molded boards that have almost no rail protection.

Makes sense, right? If you want to protect something from impact, you use MORE and a heavier weight material. There are performance attributes we’ll talk about later, but we also did a ton to make the Flyboy Wakesurf branded board more durable.

Now we’ve demonstrated resin infusion for you, we have the system and equipment and all of the know how, but it’s not really possible in a sandwich constructed board. Infusion is the process of taking all dry materials and the drawing resin across all of the dry materials to wet fiberglass or the reinforcements and the interior of all non-reinforced parts. What happens with an interior layer of fiberglass under a closed cell foam? It gets sealed off from the resin flow. So the only way to get to that reinforcement is with holes or slots to allow resin flow, or you just wet it out by hand, first. You can infuse the exterior just fine, but sandwich boards have to be a wet layup on the interior or weird scoring and porting are needed which would actually add more resin than just wetting it out by hand! An infused sandwich would just be a waste. We actually do infusion, have the equipment and infuse parts now an again and during sme of our experiments we discovered an amazing polyurethane glue.

Now most polyurethane glues require moisture from the air to cure. They dry waterproof, but they are reactive to water and air. We tell you that, because what’s missing inside a vacuum? Right, air! Can’t infuse with PolyU glue, trust us!

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We understand that it’s easier to slop a bunch of epoxy across everything, but it wasn’t making sense to us as we tried to attach the rail material to this new slightly higher density core. If you check the websites for blank manufacturers like Marko or WNC, they all use a PolyUrethane Glue to affix stringers to the two foam blank halves. We’ve talked about how the core of a sandwich board needs to react to shear forces. That’s why you never want to stuff a stringer through it. It prevents the flexural properties and changes it from a sandwich board to a stringered board. It simply doesn’t make sense to expend the extra money and time to create a stringered board that would be inferior to any one of the stringered blanks available commercially. Right? Stringered boards and blanks abound, because all of that has been worked out. We never thought we could outdo Marko Foam in making a stringered blank. Plus, skins are useless at that point. All of the forces are being handled by the stringer! So, we understand that the core of a sandwich board is designed to absorb shear forces, we want it to sort of shimmy and shake and move somewhat.

Not like into the next county, but in order for it to function, it needs to be able to flex and absorb the shear forces. So now lets follow those forces out along the blank to the rail. It meets up with this 3/4″ of high density cross linked PVC foam and what happens? Well we don’t want that perimeter frame to move, that’s why we make it so stiff and strong, but we don’t want the core to separate from the rails either!

Epoxy, the clear resin we use to laminate with is a medium soft plastic. It won’t really hold all that well to the vertical sides of an EPS blank when we tried to glue the rails to it. Gravity drained it off the top and super thin layers of epoxy couldn’t withstand more than a few pounds of force before it separated from an eps core. What was happening, is that the epoxy was so much stiffer and more brittle than the EPS core that when the core was absorbing the shear forces, all of those forces just stopped at the glue line and the eps would pull away from the glue. Same is true anywhere there is a hard stiffer surface stuffed into EPS, or attached to the surface. What we found, with literally years of testing and FAILING was that we needed a more flexible glue joint between the hard rail material and the softer flexible core. Just like what blank manufacturers know and have been doing for years.

We have experience in the Flyboy Wakesurf family with rubber and urethane engineering products. One such product is referred to as an expansion joint. It’s typical implementation is joining two large pipes together where a flange with a flexible rubber “middle” section is allowed to expand and contract to allow for movement of the pipes attached, say from expansion and contraction due to heat or while under a load from whatever is running through the pipes. Without that flexible joint, the pipe flanges just pull apart and allow liquid or slurry to leak.

Makes sense if you have a solid object and a flexible object, you want to join them with something that will allow the flexible object to FLEX! So what we do, in this build, is to attach the very first layer of rail material to the core using a flexible urethane glue that is waterproof after curing. We are sealing the entire EPS vertical surface of the join with this waterproof glue and attaching the harder rail material to create that sort of expansion joint. Works really well, sticks like snot and allows the core to do it’s thing without breaking away from the rails! BUT, like we said, it can’t be attached in a vacuum, so we lay that first layer up by hand and hold it in place with tape and sort of a saran wrap. This particular glue doesn’t really expand like Gorilla Glue, but there is some. So the core receives some prep to allow for that expansion and to get better and deeper adhesion. The inside of the rail material is also treated to take advantage of that expansion of the polyurethane glue.

We start with taping it in place and then finish with wrapping a saran wrap layer around it to pull everything together tight, without sealing the glue off from air!

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Once the glue has cured, we peel all of the tape and saran wrap off. This is what it look like after that has been done.

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If you look at the picture, you can see we’ve started building up all of the areas where dings normally occur with a higher density foam, to help resist those impacts better.

BUT, there’s more! :)

Surfboards out in the ocean, which is where all of our surf style boards got there influence, have always had perimeter weighting. The external fiberglass from the bottom and top are overlapped on the rails or perimeter of the board. The most typical schedule is one layer from the bottom and two from the top, to give a total of three layers of fiberglass over the rails. That triple layer of fiberglass, with resin, makes that area the heaviest. It also helps to make that area stiffer. Curving and overlapping the fiberglass helps to stiffen and strengthen the rails. Stiffer rails help prevent what is commonly referred to as “twist-off” out along the rails and also aids in sinking rails into the upward flow of the water on the wake. It’s heavier and so less buoyant, and that is the area that is subject to the greatest amount of lifting forces from the wake.

Now you may not have ever broken a board before, but James sure has over the years. What we have learned is that folds or creases that result in broken boards ALWAYS start at the rail and migrate inward. You probably already know this, if you’ve every snapped a twig between your hands. You bend it until it breaks on the tension side and typically the compression side remains intact, unless the twig is extremely dry. Where does it never start? In the middle of the twig right? You simply can’t break it such that the two outside surfaces remain intact, one side always gives way first. How do you reduce the tendency to snap like that? Beef up the rails! Would you want pathetic 1.5 pound EPS trying to resist that or heavy ass 5 pound cross linked PVC foam? The obvious answer is the 5# CL PV Foam, plus adequate reinforcement to withstand the rigors of landing from airs, etc.

So, here was the engineering challenge and how we met it. Less prone to rail dings, stiffer, stronger and heavier perimeter weighting, all in one! We’ll talk more about why we use three layer of cross linked PVC foam along the rails, rather than just a single 3/4″ thick piece, when we get around to adding that material! We hope you’ll take away the care and engineering that goes into this construction. It would have been a shitload easier to slop a bunch of epoxy everywhere and add all three pieces of rail material at once but that would result in an inferior product. It would be less durable and less responsive. It’s complicated, we get that, but we’re all about quality and engineered for the most responsive ride. We simply don’t cut corners or compromise on the construction or materials used. Sure we could have used epoxy everywhere, made it cheaper and quicker but then we’d be just like every other mass produced truckload of boards cranked out in 3 hours. We don’t want to be that guy.

Thanks for your patience, we know we didn’t post on the schedule we promised.

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Nov 07

Front shuv with James Walker and his Flyboy

We apologize for the lack of build thread continuance, even though we promised we would, but we felt like a little wakesurf break! So we did a little edit for our Flyboy InstaGram page and thought we’d share it here, also.


We can’t remember if we’ve already posted the Front Shuv pictures, but we found a folder full of them, so posted them all to the Flyboy Wakesurf Flickr page in a folder of the same name.

For our mobile enabled friends, here is a link to that front shuv video, if the embed above doesn’t work for you.

Here is a link to that Flyboy Wakesurf Flickr page with the Front Shuv to Revert pictures. We think maybe those pictures are from a different session than the video, but you get the idea. Sequence shots AND a video clip.

We sure hope that you are ready for your weekend and that you’ll either get some riding time, or remember your summer!

Thanks for following along, we really appreciate it! Rail material and theory tomorrow, we promise!

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Nov 06

Tricks are for kids

We love that tagline, although we guess it’s actually Trix and not tricks.

Snapshot - 43

Did you see the discussion over at Here is a link to that thread.

It started as a discussion of the start of modern era wakesurfing and then sort of got hijacked into a discussion of the rationale of the spilt in divisions. As new folks enter the sport it’s confusing for some. Plus, the WSoWS combined the divisions in amateur for the first time in about 4 or 5 years.

One of the questions that was asked and it’s a legitimate one, went like this: “Why is there skim and surf style? If the skim guys are popping airs and the surf guys are doing pop-shuvs what is the real difference?”

Right? If the style of riding is such that the only thing that differentiates the two is equipment, then why are there two divisions?

Remember our discussion the other day about riding revert? Assume two riders both have only 4 tricks they can do. Surface 3, Ollie 3, Surface 7 and a shuv. Lets also assume that one rider is on a typical skim style board, we all recognize them and the other a typical surf style board. Lets say that both riders do those tricks in that order, we’ll give the surf style rider a shuv to revert, whereas the skim style rider just winds up regular with the board revert. The skimmer can do all those tricks again, can’t they? Revert 3, 7, ollie 3 and then a shuv out. Our surf style rider is never going to land a revert surface 7.

That is one of the major differences in equipment and riding style, skimmers can ride revert all day long and often times those revert tricks, while being identical in execution are treated like unique tricks. Skimmer easily wins that matchup, right? Eight unique tricks including “revert” tricks which the surf style rider can never really do, or at least not with as much ease.

Then we heard from Nick Wiersema. Nick is a prolific shaper and creates boards for the ocean, as well as wakesurf under the Chaos label. He’s also been involved as a judge in the Endless Wave Tour. Now Nick wasn’t dogmatic as some folks on whackyworld are. He expressed that his statements were opinion. So with all of that intro, Nick expressed: “Real surf style isn’t about shuvs.”

We’ve said that for a bit, you’d have more chance of winning the Lottery than seeing a shuv done at your local break on a surfboard. Let alone a 3 shuv or big spin. If you watch videos with those skate influenced tricks done by surfers on surfboards in the ocean, they aren’t as popular as just ocean surfing, as they don’t quite fit the model of surfing in the viewing publics mind. It’s like walking into the Taj Mahal and seeing Walmart racks of generic clothes. It doesn’t fit with your expectations. AND when we used that phrase “ocean surfing” you didn’t think shuvs or back bigs did you?

SURF style in wakesurfing though, at least in a contest, you’ll see a shuv in the very first run and probably every rider in that division will have one.

There was some discussion about equipment definitions and the like, in that thread. As we described with the Centurion Spring Fling, Calibrated fashioned a “surf style” board that was pretty much a skimmer and had 3 fins attached. Jaime Lovett did his same run in both divisions and won both. Now back then, contest organization was about developing equity and fairness, there was never once any discussion about selling boats or boards as part of the development of rules and criteria. Immediately following that contest, rules were created to adequately split the divisions and sort of keep the equipment in check. The CWSA eliminated all of those rules, and didn’t replace them with anything else. Currently no contest, tour or event has any definition with regard to equipment or riding. Yet, it’s almost perfectly understood “surf style” simply wouldn’t include shuv based tricks. So we have this discontinuity between what we all understand and the reality…Walmart racks in the Taj Mahal.

Right? If we asked you to point out a skim style board, you’d look for a relatively thin, shallow rocker, sharp rails, tiny single fin in the back, non-directional board. Conversely, with most of those attributes missing you’d say surf style. Thicker, directional, handful of fins in the back, mass and weight at the ass end. Right? Lord knows if you go online looking to buy one, every eager retailer will have them segregated by that classification, in order to make your purchase easier. So everyone freakin’ gets it! But, not with riding style? Huh. That’s just interesting, don’t you think? Yet, if we said – ocean surfing on a shortboard you’d think barrels, cutbacks, maybe an air off the lip and not one shuv. If you’re honest and don’t have to own up to it in public to anyone, you’d agree. So, lets just be honest. We all know and understand the equipment and we all know and understand what riding a surf or skim style means.

As we mentioned, Nick is a trained judge within the EWT. Also, the WSoWS didn’t feel it was necessary to continue to split divisions in amateur, well at least at the WWSC, as we understand it all qualifying events had the splits. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you get the philosophy. Why do they need to be split? Right?

There was another interesting philosophical statement made: “Maneuvers and progression, not the same as difficulty and tricks…. tricks are for kids…”

We would surmise the whole run vs individual components. We don’t know if Nick shares the same philosophy with the EWT overall, but it’s certainly unique in terms of scoring within wakesurfing.

As we sat with that, with those differing realities, the wsows which is not seeing the need for differentiation in divisions, at least at the amateur levels and then a judge from the EWT talking specifically about the differences between the two styles, we have to wonder about how the two tours will position themselves in 2015. We saw conflicts in schedules and almost locations last year between the two tours, you can certainly see a means of differentiation, AND a need for that differentiation, that might attract specific riders from one tour to the other. It would be really good if there was difference between the tours…we don’t need MORE of the same thing, just with a different boat. Maybe that becomes the difference? One tour recognizes and separates the divisions and judging criteria and the other collapses the divisions and has just one judging criteria. It would make for a reasonable basis for choosing a tour to attend, rather than a simply location.

Anyway, 2015 has the potential to shape up to be one of the more interesting seasons in a long while!

Thanks so much for following along, back to the build tomorrow with some discussion with regard to rail theory and material properties.

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Nov 05

Building the core

We wanted to share with you the build process we use to create the current version of the Flyboy Wakesurf branded board that James Walker is riding. It’s ridiculously labor intensive, but gives James the ride quality that he wants and at the same time stands up to the rigors he puts on a board. We are building this particular board at home, but we have always worked with an outside shaper/builder for the final contest board that James rides for a number of reason, not the least of which is we simply don’t have the facilities at home! We’ll talk more about our current Joint Venture in the coming weeks.

We want to show you the build, but also point out the changes that we’ve made to this construction over the years. If you’ve followed along with us for any period of time, you’ll recognize that we spend an inordinate amount of time testing and building variations on materials. Wakesurf boards and surfboards are a funny thing. There is absolutely NOTHING you can do to protect a shape. Sell a board and any shaper can grab it, take some measurements and then viola, crank out a duplicate. So we spend all of our time and energry on the materials that comprise the make up of our boards. As we’ve said before, we only build using the proposed materials we want the final product to be made with, because…changing the materials sometimes adversely affects the way a board rides. Developing using a stringered 2 pound density blank won’t usually translate really well to a sandwich construction that is significantly lighter and more buoyant. We understand that very few folks know how to make sandwich boards. To be fair, the same would be true in reverse, it wouldn’t make sense to prototype in sandwich if the final board was going to be strictly an EPS blank!

It’s definitely a separate skill, but you understand the concept. It would be like baking chocolate chip cookies, without using chocolate chips and then when you think you have the recipe perfect, changing the ingredients to INCLUDE the chocolate chips and expecting the changed cookies to be the same as those WITHOUT the choco-chips, that you created…ummmm, we don’t know about you, but we sure as hell can’t do that!

So, we develop and test using the “ingredients” that we want to finally eat! Ok, no, that we want to use for the final board. You could understand someone that didn’t know how to build a sandwich board, NOT building one. That’s logical, “I don’t know how to build those” and so just use conventional methods. We’ve never found the translation from conventional to sandwich to be all that easy, so we learned how to build sandwich construction and just develop and test that way!

We build sandwich boards from the inside out. The core gets some shaping and then we start adding layers of stuff to get to the final outcome. Conventional construction is sort of different in that an oversized core is shaped down to the desired shape and then it’s laminated. Sandwich construction, adds bits and pieces to arrive at the core which is then shaped and then MORE bits and pieces are added!

The very first component is the interior core. In the past we’ve used a 1 pound density EPS foam, but abandoned that a few years ago, due to the fiddlybits that we’ve talked about in the past.

photo 1

Most folks that do sandwich construction, well, insert and glue up high density foam plugs to sink fin boxes in. Then also in the high impact areas where the higher density foam can absorb some of the impact. On larger surf boards, those that are in the 6’2″ range, the weight savings can be dramatic, but we did some calculations at one point and discovered that we were maybe saving a few ounces of weight and creating this wild complicated structure. It stopped making sense, so we started testing higher density EPS foam cores instead of the 1 pound density foam. Now we understand that some folks don’t use those high density fin plugs, but the ride suffers when it’s not done that way. The best and most advanced builders use high density foam plugs for inserting fin boxes in sandwich boards. Josh Dowling, Sunnova, Firewire…and more, all of the best and most advanced sandwich boards use the inserts for fin plugs.

Then we revisted an article that had input from Greg Loehr of Resin Research Epoxy fame and he described a more advanced sandwich construction that eliminated some of those fiddlybits. No leaking boxes, no perfectly mating plugs to underlying foam, no diffilcult shaping of differing materials. They simply used a slightly higher density EPS foam core and solved much of the problem for minimal weight gain. BUT, that was on longer boards. Guess what happened when we applied that on our shorter wakesurf boards? No actual weight gain. The reason is clear as you start thinking about it. A 4 1/2 foot long board still uses the same fin boxes as a 6’2″ long ocean board. An extra, maybe 2 feet, of low density foam made a huge difference in ocean boards, but not so much for our much smaller boards, especially when we had to carve out sections to insert heavier foam to make it work!

With a slightly higher density core, we could eliminate the fiddlybits. No fin box plugs, no high impact area protection, the core managed it all. Plus, it was so much easier! Well, not easy, but we eliminated a bunch of extra steps. :)

We did lots of experimentation with different blanks and also just raw billet foam and found that the blanks from Marko and WNC worked the best. These are stringerless blanks and they are oversized from what we will be carving out, in the end.

Now we machine shape the final production boards, because it results in the best final product. We’ve heard wild stuff about “soul” being lost in machine shaping and we’ve never lost a single one ourselves! :)


That picture is just a test of the cut file. It wasn’t intended to be a final board. We simply chucked a blank into the machine and ran the cut file to test the final dimensions and tool path.

We understand the craftsmanship that folks want to retain and we think that’s fine. It’s just really hard to shape boards by hand identically. We aren’t building custom one off shapes. It’s James’ board, the exact one he rides in contests. We wanted and needed to be able to make a bunch of them. Well at least several, right? It’s just US, not a huge manufacturer. You’ll never see this board littered all over your lake or local pro shop!

The next step is to affix the rail material. As we pointed out in yesterdays post, we use a cross linked PVC foam, Divinycell H80 to be exact for that rail build up.

photo 2

We’ll start back here tomorrow as there is lots of techy stuff that we want to talk about and we also want to talk about some of the theory behind the approach.

Thanks so much for following along, we know how dry and boring this stuff can be. We also believe it’s important to understand the process and material that go into your board. Externally pretty is easy, quality, substance and innovation takes effort and design. It reminds us of the elections yesterday. So many really “pretty” candidates, but not much substance. California also has a weird judicial system. Judges are vetted by the Bar association, appointed by the Governor and then we vote them IN or OUT of a job. But they don’t campaign. So, if the electorate doesn’t like the job a judge is doing, we vote him OUT of the job, but we don’t vote in a replacement, that judge position is just vacated! Lots of investigation and testing of the character of the judicial appointees, not just pretty or rhetoric.

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Nov 04

PVC like you’ve only dreamed of


pvc dress

Right? Ok, not the attractive young lady, but her outfit is made from PVC. Sell you 5 of those for your S.O.? The initials PVC stand for Poly Vinyl Chloride, it’s a very versatile plastic, it’s used in everything from sprinkler pipe to…well…clothing? BUT it’s not PVC foam.

PVC foam is actually a combination of that very same PVC plastic in the picture above and polyurea, which is what gives the foam it’s thickness. Polyurea is an elastomer and you’re familiar with it in such things as polyurethane foam. So for clarity, PVC is the plastic in that woman’s dress, PVC foam, is what’s in some wakesurf boards.

Now, it would be great if PVC foam was just a single flavor, but other industries found the development of PVC into two broad categories to be most useful. They are LINEAR PVC foam and CROSS LINKED PVC foam. They are designed for two very different purposes and we don’t really need to go in depth on that, but it will be good for you to understand the differences and also to know that PVC ain’t foam.

Linear PVC foam refers to the chemical makeup of the material and much like it’s name implies, the molecular structure is linear. One molecule sort of adheres to another molecule in a very orderly and linear fashion. One to the other, the end.

Here is a great representation of what linear PVC foam would look like on a molecular level.

photo 4 (2)

Nice, tidy, neat and rather simplistic. It works great in many specific situations.

Cross linked is different than the linear PVC foam in that the various molecules are all sort of cross linked. Rather than a single molecule attaching to another single molecule in a very specific order there is this wild and random’ish attachment to all sorts of molecules. Obviously they need to be close enough to each other to attach, but multiple attachments are normal and so is the sort of disordered or random attachment.. Here is a great representation of a cross linked PVC foam at a molecular level.

photo 5

NOT very neat nor orderly! So what is the upside of this form of PVC foam? It’s a hellava lot stronger and stiffer! If you want a PVC foam that has tons of flex before failing, you’d most likely choose a linear PVC foam and if your usage dictated stiffer and stronger PVC foam, you’d opt for a cross-linked variety.

Lets talk about the how the two different types of PVC foam would react under a typical tension load.

What happens with a linear PVC foam under some tension?

photo 3 (2)

Oh right that whole weak link dealio! Because there is one orderly attachment, linear PVC foam tends to be flexible and less strong than cross-linked. There are many instances where that is fine, but probably not in a wakesurf board…or maybe there is for cost savings and general useage. You get the idea, that linear molecular structure allows the structure to be far more pliable than if the orientation was this wild random orientation.

Cross linked PVC foam on the other hand has lots of interacting molecules and is much tougher under tension.

photo 2

Right? Makes sense, instead of 1 neatly organized paperclip holding the thing together there are maybe 25 in a random orientation, the structure with 25 is going to be stronger and stiffer than the one with out. That’s a real over-simplification, but you get the idea. You also understand it’s not really like paperclips, that’s just a great way to visually represent it. One is neat and orderly and the other is linked all over the place!

Our Flyboy Wakesurf branded boards ONLY use cross linked PVC foam and we use it only in the rails. It’s more expensive than linear PVC foam and requires some extra steps to work effectively, but the difference in ruggedness and longevity are dramatic compared to linear PVC foam and of course, while you or your S.O. might look smoking hot in PVC, it’s not a foam at all. We specifically use Divinycell, which is a made in the USA product, in Texas as a matter of fact! Again it’s more expensive, but the improvement in quality from other no-name brands is just dramatic. We use only the finest materials, because they do make a difference. Here is a picture of the first layer of divinycell rail material glued up to the core of our build thread board. It’s the tan’ish colored band towards the bottom of the board.

photo 1 (3)

Now those familiar with divinycell may start to question the coloring, expecting that to be possibly Corecell or a super high density H100 divinycell, but while that’s a good eye, it’s not either of those two things. About a year ago, Diab, who manufactures Divinycell here in the good old USA, stopped using dyes in their h45, h60 and h80 PVC Foam products as a means of reducing the environmental impact of their production. Not that it’s “green” by any means, but we like the fact that they are looking for ways to reduce the impact on the environment. Anyway, their pvc foams are all now natural colored have have a stamp on them to indicate the density, like H80.

One last picture and then we’ll close for today, this is a linear PVC foam, as you can see it’s typically weaker than cross-linked PVC foam, but conforms to really tight curves better.

photo 2

LOL we just noticed Cooper in that picture. Ignore the menacing dog teeth trying to bite the foam!

We should also add that Diab and their product Divinycell offers a linear PVC foam in their new HD formulation. They have partnered with Sunova surfboards to test this foam in some composite sandwich surf boards. To date, no one is RAVING about the material which is what you’d expect if it was killing it from a material standpoint. It could be that it’s just a matter of changing the construction, but so far, it’s not being used successfully in surfboard construction.

We wouldn’t suggest that you run from the room when you DON’T hear cross linked PVC foam with regard to wakesurf construction. We doubt that folks are hiding anything, like they are saying PVC or High Density Foam, rather than what the foam actually is, we think it’s probably more a case of no one really knows, so folks just do the best they can.

One of the reasons we go into such depth on the construction of our boards and the materials we use, is…well because we DO know what goes into them and consciously engineer them that way, plus we WANT you to know and understand what and how we are doing things. We fully believe that once you know, and see that we aren’t afraid to be really specific, you’ll appreciate the quality of the construction and “engineering” if you will.

Right? There you go.

Ok, thanks so much for following along, we really appreciate it. Now go do a Google search on PVC dresses!

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Nov 03

Episode 4 of our Flyboy Missing Summer series

Are you cold and off the lake, missing your boat and wakesurfing? We are starting to feel that! No wakesurfing this weekend and there’s not enough snow to snowboard just yet!


So to help you get through the long cold winter, here is episode 4 in our Flyboy Wakesurf Missing Summer series – Body Varial FTW!

For our mobile enabled friends, here is our link to that FTW! video if the embed above doesn’t work for you.

Be sure to come back next Sunday, at the very least, as we bring you another in our Flyboy Wakesurf Missing Summer series. Thanks for watching, we appreciate you!

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