Did you make it to the 2014 WWSC? It’s a great event, something you really should do at least one time to say you’ve been and even better if you can compete.
We saw lots of stuff, and we won’t talk about the crazy after parties that everyone enjoyed. As the saying goes: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. However, we saw a bunch of stuff that was interesting in terms of wakesurfer development and contest development, too.
This year saw the addition of 5 new pro athletes. Parker Payne was asked to move up mid-season and then the winners in the outlaw division are required to move up to the pro level divisions in the succeeding year, at least in the World Series of Wake Surfing. We’re not really sure if the EWT has a comparable rule. What’s interesting about the pro additions is that they are kids. Not 8 years old, but obviously minor age children.
We started thinking about this some. You’ll remember a few years back when Raliegh Hager won the pro women’s surf divisions as a pre-teen and we all thought child prodigy…except now we have 5 more? Not that they aren’t all ridiculously amazing riders, but 6 child prodigies in the course of a year probably has something else going on.
We get that when you don’t have to worry about balancing your checkbook, heck don’t even HAVE a checkbook, it makes practicing wakesurfing easier. Go ride, do homework and mom and dad do your laundry, make dinner, pay the bills. Also, no doubt mom and dad are being supportive of the practice sessions. That, of course, has something to do with it, but there is something else. It’s weight or mass. Now we aren’t suggesting that rules or divisions be changed, we can’t even keep surf vs skim separate, so weight divisions would never happen. But it sure begs design changes doesn’t it?
Children aren’t fully developed and so in a…say bench press test a 13 year old girl shouldn’t be able to compete with a 25 year old woman, if they both trained equally. Right? At 13, you are still growing and developing at 25, you’re most likely done. At least there shouldn’t be 6 child prodigies that are beating adults at bench press contests all training about the same amount. BUT what does a 13 year old have that a 25 year old doesn’t? A minus 40 pounds? Ok that was poorly worded, but you get the idea a 60 pound skilled pre-teen probably has more wakesurf contest ability than a 160 pound skilled adult, with your current stick.
So bear with us here as we do some gearhead stuff. We don’t want to get into that crazy semantics argument, it muddles everything and is mostly designed to be argumentative and hurtful rather than useful in any sort of dissemination of information. For clarity, we are going to identify and label 5 forces acting on a wakesurf board. There are more, but we just want to concern ourselves with these 5 for today. Starting from the bottom left and working counter clockwise in this picture, they are:
1) Forces lifting up
3) Forces pushing forward from behind
4) Forces pressing down, and
You can call it what you want, but calling everything PUSH isn’t useful or clear. So UP is lift, DOWN is press and FORWARD is pushing, like pushing a car that’s run out of gas. Those are the labels we are using for this discussion.
We get lifting forces from our wake, we don’t think anyone disagrees that those exist. The water flow is up. We also have buoyant forces which are always directly opposite to gravity. We also have gravitational forces and we’ll call that pressing down, what we want to convey is that the force is acting on the wakesurf board and wakesurf rider in a manner that causes them to go down like towards the bottom of the lake. Lastly, we have the rider pressing down when they ride, like pumping and weighting and unweighting a board. As we said there are more, but we want to limit ourselves to just these 5 for today.
For today, we want to talk about buoyancy in particular.
Have you ever heard someone say that wanted a thicker board for more float? Or they needed more buoyancy for their riding? It probably doesn’t really exist in wakesurfing. Now don’t fly off the handle here. We want to explain and then relate it back to the light weight riders.
In the past we have said that “wetted surface area” is probably the key to wakesurf board performance, but that isn’t fully accurate. It’s two dimensional and really would only encompass length and width. What it doesn’t include would be the Z axis or thickness. But what does a buoyant force actually require? That was a really bad question, let’s try and rephrase it. If you have a piece of foam and it is sitting on your dining room table, how much buoyant force is it exerting? None, right? Well unless said dining room table is under water. There is some potential buoyant force, but until it’s actually in water, in fact UNDER water, there is none. Right? No water, no buoyancy, but also, no UNDER WATER no buoyancy. Lots of potential buoyancy, but none actually exerting forces on anything.
We’ll demonstrate in some videos and pictures. First we grabbed a piece of scrap foam and then cleaned it up to make a rectangle about 2 inches thick.
Next we filled up the bathroom sink with some water and placed the foam on the water and allowed it to float. It’s hard to actually measure, but a small minute amount of the foam block is actually under water. Maybe a thousandth of an inch, we aren’t sure, but some of it is. This foam block weighs next to nothing, so there isn’t a lot of buoyant forces acting on it. Here is a picture, though!
Here is an amazing video of the floating block of foam!!!!
Floating block of foam in the bathroom sink video for our mobile enable friends. Woohoo!
Ok so very limited buoyancy forces in play, mostly because there is no weight involved. That block of foam is maybe an ounce in total.
So, it would be great if we could all diet so effectively that we lost 150 pounds, but that’s not going to happen is it? We can’t isolate the board weight from the board and rider combination, because when we are wakesurfing it’s both of those items in play isn’t it? Imagine how well you could ride if you weighed 1 pound but could still dead lift 300 pounds! You’d be like a giant ant in terms of weight and strength.
So now lets add some weight to our foam block and see what happens. We tried to add more, but it kept tipping over and dumping our weight. So we added 3 quarters and sort of balanced them so that the foam block still floated. It’s really hard to see, but by adding the weight we got a small amount of the block of foam to submerge and it was measurable. Maybe 1/16th of an inch. Here are some pictures and then another amazing video!
It’s super hard to see, but 1/16th of an inch, approximately, of the bottom of the foam block is underwater.
Here is that video and if you look very carefully at the bottom right corner of the foam block you’ll see a small sharpie mark that we made to sort of reference where the water line is with the 3 quarters added as weight.
For our mobile enabled friends here is a link to that weighted foam block video.
So that foam block has lots of height doesn’t it? It’s about 2 inches thick. So that must have tons of buoyant forces acting on those 3 quarters, right? In fact, no it doesn’t. It has lots of potential buoyancy, but only a tiny little fraction of that potential is actually in play. The rest is sort of in reserve or maybe simply wasted. IF we knew that we’d never ever under any circumstances use those extra buoyant forces we’d be able to reduce that thickness and still float the 3 quarters, right? OR are you looking at that and thinking man no way, we need all that foam to float the three quarters! Or at the very least to float them with only that 1/16th of an inch of foam under water. That would be a legitimate conclusion, that if we cut that foam in half, removing 50% of the volume and area that it very possibly would sort of ride lower in the water.
BUT it would be wrong. In fact, we can cut that foam down to the thickness of that sharpie mark and the quarters would remain dry! BECAUSE the foam that isn’t submerged, isn’t providing any buoyant force at all. It has the potential to do so, but is just being lazy and sort of hanging around doing nothing.
So to prove that, we took this same block of foam and then cut it in half on the height axis. That is the length and width that was in the water remains unchanged, but the height is now 50% of what it was before in the previous pictures and videos.
Ok so foam block with sharpie mark, floating proud – shhhh about the foam bits in the water!
Now lets add that same weight, the three quarters. Here is that picture.
And the short video of the floating block of foam.
For our mobile enabled friends, here is the thinner block floating with weight.
Did you see it? The mark in the bottom right corner? The depth of the block floating underwater didn’t change did it? That is to say, the foam out of the water doesn’t aid in buoyancy at all. It offers potential buoyancy in case we added more weight or gained some forces pushing down on the board, or lost some of the forces lifting the board out of the water, but when all of those are static, that extra foam does NOTHING for buoyancy.
What does that tell us about volume considerations while wakesurfing? It’s not quite as easy as: “we need less”, because we are in this dynamic state most of the time. But we can make some assumptions about the placement, can’t we? Do you need it out at the nose? Probably only rarely, if then. Need it out at the rail? Yeah, it does impact ride quality out there.
What about lighter weight riders? Let’s compare the exact same board. Say the Flyboy – James’ signature board. If we put James out there who weighs somewhere around 180 and then say a young pre-teenager, which individual will be extracting more buoyant forces while in trim? Same wake, same speed everything is the same except one rider weighs say 80 pounds and then James weighs 180.
It’s a little hard to extrapolate, because the board is planing on the surface, but there will be some buoyant forces acting on the board in our example. JAMES, who weighs more, will be extracting more buoyancy than the 80 pound child.
So does our goal become to minimize buoyancy in a contest level wakesurf board? Yeah if you can do it by losing 100 pounds of body weight and still retain your muscle mass. That really isn’t the dealio though. What we want is less of the board submerged, when it CREATES buoyant forces. We want to be have all of the necessary control surfaces “wetted” but nothing more. Anything else that is in the water or drug through the water is creating drag and – we’ll go out on a limb and theorize that it creates a force that has to be counter-acted by the rider during tricks and that gives an advantage to lighter riders.
Ok-fine, so lets say all of that is true, now what?
Come back to Flyboy Wakesurf as we start describing what we are doing with this latest wakesurf build. It’s technology that’s more than a “me too” product, that doesn’t require a trust fund or wealthy parents supporting you so that you can practice 6 hours a day. 40 minutes to podium for James, who is one of the best riders in the world, so no you won’t get his skill, but think about what James did. This board only has 44 minutes of riding on it and it wasn’t what we had spec’ed out and James rode it to a podium at the WWSC. It’s tech that helps you ride better.
This isn’t that old tired composite sandwich construction that was created 10 years ago in sailboards. We’ve abandoned that several years ago for a better, stronger and lighter construction. James, we are sad to say, doesn’t have the good fortune to practice everyday, he’s a working stiff like you and DAMMIT his parents aren’t crazy wealthy!!! He also can’t take a week off before worlds to ride behind a similar boat as the WWSC. God bless those who can, but for the rest of us…here’s technology that can surpass all that. It won’t make you younger, but it can give you the next best thing.
There are lots of copies of Flyboy boards and more to come, that’s for sure, but you can’t get this technology anywhere else. You can get old tired technology, but not this.
To tell you how confident we were with this tech, James rode it after having only ridden it basically for less than an hour and it wasn’t the shape we wanted!!! We were confident that it would put him on the podium with his skill set and, it did. Now to be honest we were disgusted with the shaping error, but confident in our build process so James took the risk and rode it at the winner-takes-all WWSC.
Now remember, every rider there has been on their board for weeks as a minimum, some for all year. Most had ridden this very wave for days on end, just prior to the WWSC. And during that week leading up to the WWSC while everyone else was riding everyday, James was punching a time clock 10 hours a day and drove through the night to get to Vegas. We put James on this board after less than an hour to prove a point. Against the best riders in the world!!! AND you’ll only find it with Flyboy Wakesurf, no place else, anywhere. Also we TEST and TEST some more. We aren’t tossing some stupid nose on a 5 year old shape and trying to sell it as new. We put our design and technology to the ultimate test. Competing against the best of the best in probably the worst conditions of any wakesurf event and with literally no practice or prep time. In the coming weeks we’ll tell you how you can buy this technology and in this very board that James Walker is riding. Stay tuned!
Thanks so much for following along, we really appreciate it!