Oct 10

Weekend stoke

Have you put your boat away for the season, already?


Fall is definitely in the air here in NorCal, so we’ll be slowing down shortly. Sunday afternoon we’ll start our Missing Summer series, and as a teaser to that, here is a short video clip of James Walker on his Flyboy, to kinda kick your weekend off, if you’re still surfing, or making you a little misty if you’re boat is already winterized.

For our mobile enabled users, here is a link to that weekend stoke video if the embed above doesn’t work.

We sure hope that you have fond memories of your wakesurf season, or that it’s still going strong for you. We’re about to enter our build season, so we’ll hopefully have some interesting articles that can keep you going this winter. Stay tuned to Flyboy as we help you weather the long cold dry spell.

Thanks for following along, we appreciate it.

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Oct 09


You heard us! Fiddlybits! It’s the stuff that you do to fix something that’s broken. We’ve all done it, like a splint on a fractured leg, tape it up to hold it in place. We’ve also done it around the house, like when your glasses break at the bridge you tape a piece of plastic to them until you can get to the doctor to get a new frame. We want to share a few quotes before we get into a discussion about fiddlybits!

There is a great book for older teens, worth reading as adults. It’s by Ned Vizzini and is titled It’s Kind of a Funny Story. The main character is Craig Gilmer and the main character is brutally emotionally honest in the story. If you are all about being 100% positive at all times, first you’re a liar, but second this book will make you uncomfortable. The Craig checks into a psychiatric hospital where he finally gets the help he needs. It’s a skillful witty handling of a sensitive issue that is an important book and worth the read. One statement in the book is priceless. Craig states: “Everyone has problems. Some people just hide their crap better than others.”

Right? We all see that the gorgeous facade on the house and inside we hear the story about how the family was performing satanic rituals. Anyway, within this blog, we show you our failures. If there is anyone that you think isn’t or doesn’t have failure; they just hide their crap, really well. We’re not ashamed of that, hell we reveal in making mistakes, because that means we became that much closer to success and gained useful knowledge.

Which leads us to the next quote, from Albert Einstein. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.” We think it’s from his book Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms. You know, brilliant man and we get the gist of the sentiment, but bullshit! Try surfing some imagination! It’s good to be able to move beyond the what is to what could be, but it becomes useful when it condenses into some useful knowledge.

Ok, so all of that leads to a fiddlybit and knowledge for us. Below is a picture that is from a board we made, man…we are guessing around 2007’ish. Maybe 2006, we aren’t quite sure at this point. Ignore the poor workmanship for a moment, we built it in the dead of winter and w were struggling with some vacuum bagging issues that we finally resolved. So we didn’t attempt a cut lap on the carbon wrapped rails. Anyway, this board had a 1 pound density EPS core, Corecell A500 skins top and bottom, balsawood rails, in fact a complete perimeter frame. It was very early in our efforts and the bottom was flat, it didn’t have a concave or tucked rails. It was just nicely flat and also it precedes our work with the twinzer fin pod.

photo (23)

And we want to point out something around the fins. Do you see the two sort of faint lines running horizontally across the board on either side of the fin boxes? Those are actually embedded carbon tubes. So here was the fiddlybit issue. In that super soft 1 pound density core, we had some fin twist. We never lost a fin box, but you could feel the loss of power as the fins sort of twisted around in the foam. Currently, meaning 2014, many manufacturers use high density foam inserts to sink their fin boxes in to rectify that problem. More fiddly bits. From a manufacturing standpoint, you want to reduce labor costs, as much as possible. Labor is the single most expensive variable cost in the equation. It destroys margins and drives prices higher. Also, a composite sandwich is basically a stringerless board. If you love your wooden stringers, that’s fine, We won’t tell you your wrong for that, but stringers in a composite sandwich are wrong.

There simply isn’t any reason to go through the hassle of creating a stringerless construction, to convert it back to stringered construction. Just start out with stringered. Stringerless boards are felt by many to be exceptionally lively and more responsive. BUT, they need to be stringerless! Right? So this project was, well not a monumental failure, but it awakened us to a few things. One is, if you’re just going to insert fiddlybits to make it a stringered board, skip the hassle and buy a stringered blank! Way cheaper and easier. The second bit of knowledge that it imparted was reducing labor costs. Not that we really had any at that stage, it was just us, but we HOPED at some stage there would be. Dear Lord, don’t create such a complicated mess of a build process with bits and pieces that required tons of labor and introduced more things to fail or go wrong, step back and look at the issue. For us here, it was the foam density. It was 1 pound EPS that was well just floppy.

It created a ridiculously light board, but if we had to add fin box inserts or crazy horizontal pieces to allow the fins to work optimally, maybe there is a better choice in core material. Right? What we then experimented with was a higher density EPS for a core. This project was 1.0 pound density, maybe it was a nominal density of 0.75, so we bumped up through 2.0, which was too heavy, but at 1.5 pound / cubic foot, we fixed all of the ills and guess what? It was about $2.50 more per board. The crazy routing of a slot for the horizontal tubes and the cost of the tubes, plus all the labor to cut the right length, test fit it, glue it in, fashion up a cover where it was below the surface of the bottom…well you get the idea, it would drive up the cost per unit by $100 easily in a production environment AND actually wound up being heavier than a higher density core material.

So maybe old Albert was right, if you doggedly view the only option as inserting more fiddlybits, you really are doomed to failure. Luckily, we didn’t have enough knowledge to get stuck in that trap! We knew that we preferred the performance and advantages of composite sandwich construction and we also knew that fiddlybits were just a failure to stand back and assess the problem correctly. By not being invested in a failed material, we were free to choose a better option! 1.5 pound. The board that you see James riding currently, doesn’t have a 1 pound density core and it’s also not a store bought stringered blank. We developed an understanding of sandwich build process and also, refused to get married to any individual component or material and luckily the process allows us to switch up all manner of materials and orientations of those materials.

So, there you have it. Fiddlybits aren’t a feature, they are a bandaid trying to fix a problem and always drive manufacturing costs higher. We are also really REALLY emotionally honest in this blog. We screw crap up all the damn time, and hopefully, it leads us to better products and performance.

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

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Oct 08

SurfMN video edit

James’ has been coaching quite a bit this year, from Washington to Hong Kong and it seems most points in between! James offers several flavors of coaching, one is behind our Supreme V226, but the more popular flavor is where he travels to YOU and trains you behind your boat and then also as a clinic coach at a site local to participants.


James prefers traveling to particpants and using their boat. That makes the most sense, it’s the wake you’ll wakesurf on most of the time and it will reduce the time it takes you to learn new tricks. You need need to give yourself every advantage and training behind YOUR wake is the ultimate advantage! Each wake is a little different and learning the nuances of a wake while also trying to learn a new trick and then TRANSFER all of that back to your wake makes the whole mess way too hard. So, that is why James started his coaching with traveling to his clients site and using their boat. Also, it’s hard to travel from the east coast or mid west out to California and with the contest scene so busy during the summers it’s hard to schedule a time and get all the arrangements worked out.

James was very active in clinics this year, including a demo and clinic session with Faction Marine with the SurfMN crew. Those folks put together a great edit that features Trevor Grindland, our very own James Walker, Cole Sorenson and Jason Lybeck. The video was shot this past summer and included some footage of James while he was back there in Alexandria, MN. Here is that video.

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

We’re looking forward to hearing all the stories and hopefully seeing some additional pictures from James during his travels to Hong Kong.

Thanks for following along, we really appreciate it.

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Oct 07

Updating the composite sandwich

If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you know that we worked extensively with composite sandwich construction. Over the years we’ve discovered a few things and probably the most important was that you can’t really just “port” or bring a design across from normal construction over to sandwich construction and expect it to work. They work on different principles. Normal construction places all of the strength and resistance in the core, with just a minimum external layer, while a sandwich just places all of that out on the skin. Just based upon those two different working constructs, you end up with a very different ride, if you take a shape from one construction over to another type of construction. Also, attempting to make one construction behave like the other diminishes the benefits of the construction being changed. So, we’ve stuck with our development always using sandwich construction and we’ve learned TONS over the years.

In fact we’re pretty sure that we are the only ones that actually do construction using sandwich techniques. There are others that develop in standard construction and then let someone else manufacture in sandwich, but we’ve never understood that. It would be like developing a shape in wood and then handing that shape over to someone to prepare in foam and fiberglass. It probably isn’t the best process for developing a wakesurf board. So we develop in sandwich and produce in sandwich, it minimizes variables and gives us a much better understanding of what works and doesn’t!

So you may remember the double skinned sandwich from a week or so back, where we took it out and wakesurfed it prior to worlds. We’ve started to shape the rails a little over the weekend, but some of us are a little under the weather fighting a cold, so progress is slow.

Here is a quick shot of the initial rough out of the rail bands.

photo 1 (3)

As we were working on the double skinned board it reminded us of the various iterations we’ve made over the years. One was a switch from merely using a skin, to using a full peremiter frame. Here is a quick shot of a seriously old protoptype cross sections. This build methodology is about 6 years old, or so.

photo 2

You’ll note that out by the rails there is really nothing built up. Our first departure from that very old build method was to build up about an inch of high density material all around the outline of the board. And we’ll tell you why.

If you’ve followed us for any length of time, you are familiar with the basic concept of sandwich construction whereby an increase in thickness is exponentially related to an increase in stiffness. So increase thickness by a factor of 1 and the stiffness increases by a factor of 4. It’s a marvel of modern mechanics! But how does that apply to the rails of a wakesurf board? They taper down to nothing and so there is an ever decreasing thickness. Based upon our understanding of sandwich construction, that would lead us to believe there is an ever decreasing stiffness from the middle of the board out to the rails. That would eventually cause sponge off or twist off out at the rails.

Here is that conceptualization of the taper out at the rails.

sandwich taper

BUT that isn’t always true. There is an entire field of study that deals specifically with this issue of tapering composite sandwiches. It makes sense as real world application of a sandwich for things like space craft will entail areas that simply aren’t flat or always a uniform distance apart.

The problem of course is that the description of this field sounds like this:

A new formulation is presented for the analysis of tapered sandwich structures with anisotropic composite faces. Three local coordinate systems are introduced to describe the independent displacements of each component. The expression for the total potential energy is derived and the Rayleigh-Ritz method is applied to obtain an approximate solution. The analysis takes into account the correlation between the core shear strain and the face normal deflection existing only for the tapered geometry. The present formulation can be applied to arbitrary boundary conditions. Numerical examples are calculated for various core shear modulus ratios, taper ratios, and slenderness ratios. The correlation between the core shear strain and the face normal deflection is found to be very important in predicting the deflections and stresses of tapered sandwich structures.

Yikes! WTH does THAT mean?! If short what is described is that there is an optium degree of taper and if utilized, they work great, if not, then our observations about thinner = less stiff are accurate. There is some stiffness that is provide by the curtvature itself, like we’ve described with rail grooves or the folds in your car hood and door panels.

Can you guess how likely the optimum taper is out at the nose, tail or rails of a sandwich board is? Not very, is the answer.

Without a perimeter frame, the thickness of the sandwich has to be significant enough that it doesn’t twist off. All of the first generation Flyboy’s had this perimeter frame, but those also had relatively thick skin on the deck and bottom. We did an interesting experiment in collaboration with The Walker Project, way back a few years ago. The design itself kinda sucked, but the rail work was enlightening.

photo (23)

Note the dark outline around the perimeter of that board. It is a wood sandwich, comprised of balsa sheets and then a few select portions of redwood. That dark outline is redwood bender board like you’d use in your landscaping. So two things from that. One is that was ridiculously stiffer than balsa wood and it also doesn’t absorb water like a dinged balsawood area wood. Heavier, denser, more springy and closed cell. That’s the take away. Not wood per se, but all of the elements that rail work provided. It’s a dramatic improvement to the simple sandwich cross section above and really that is 15 year old technology from sail boards.

What we did within that experiment is change the density, stiffness and lets call it rebound of the material out around the perimeter. Now at first glance it would seem like what we did was create an area that was significantly stiffer than the surrounding skin, but we think that isn’t really true. Due to that tapering and the curvature of the rails, the areas around the perimeter were getting stiffer by virtue of the curvature of the skins and so we needed to match that and at the same time do something way out at the very end of the perimeter that would aid with resisting dents and dings.

Can you guess what we did to address that? We lowered the density from the skin, but quadrupled the density from the core. WHAT?! It’s a crazy formulation, but you get the idea. We stiffened the rails up, just enough to take advantage of the tapering sandwich and then built up enough to give us better ding resistance. Now, we should say, our current development is further along than that, but THAT was the first significant change in the sandwich structure from what you saw above and also in what we have presented to you our devoted readers. We’ll talk more about the further developments in the Flyboy design in the future.

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

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Oct 06

James Walker landing a Widowmaker on his Flyboy

We have a short clip for you of James Walker landing a widowmaker on his Flyboy.


It’s just goregeously executed the backside air 360 to a backside surface 360.

For our mobile enabled friends here is a link to that video of James Walker landing a widowmaker.

If you are studying this trick, we also have a set of sequence shots on our Flyboy Flickr page in a Widowmaker album. This is a combination of an air 3 and a surface 3. We want to do a tutorial on this trick, but it will require that you are capable of doing both an air 3 and a surface 3. We haven’t done an air 3 tutorial yet, so we’ll start with that part of the tutorial first and then move on to the full widowmaker, proper.

Thanks so much for following along and check back this week and we dissect this trick.

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Oct 04

Taping and misc

So we glued up the C5 boxes into the ultimate surf style board last night and there isn’t really much to that process. Mix up some epoxy and we threw in some cabosil and microballoons to help thicken up the mixture. The only thing that we may not have covered to well is taping over the openings on the top of the box. It’s where the fin base will go and then also the threaded hole where the set screw goes. It’s easy to get epoxy into those cavities, so we minimize that risk by covering them with masking tape.

taped boxes

After the epoxy has cured, we’ll grind all of that off and bring the box flush with the bottom of the board.

We thought we’d also share a few pictures of James out in Hong Kong, his trip is almost over at this point and he’ll be heading back to the states. He has a few more coaching sessions lined up, back here in the go ‘ol US of A.

So the first one is the staging boat. James tried to talk them into surfing this, but apparaently it’s a little more complicated than that. We’re not really even sure how big that is. Three decks and maybe 70 feet long?

HK photo 3

One last picture. One of James’ hosts has been shuttling James back and forth between the hotel and marina in a gorgeous Ferrari 458 Italia. No doubt James has been trying to get behind the wheel, but next best thing is a ride along!

HK photo (1)

Nice grocery getter!

We have a few more left over video snippets and some pictures from before worlds and hopefully we’ll have fresh content once James returns from his coaching trip.

We hope that you all have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here next week.

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Oct 03

Cardboard honeycomb

We recently read a short blog post over on Jeff “Doc” Lausch’s, surf prescriptions web site where he discussed shaping a surf board using a cardboard honeycomb as the core material. He was contracted to build the board by a cardboard manufacturer, perhaps as a means to showcase their capabilites or alternative uses for cardboard. Here is a picture from that blog post.


That reminded us of the old Aqua Jet surfboards that were built in the late 60’s. They were probably the first honeycomb cored boards, but those were powered. They had a small electric motor and a propeller that exited thru the fin! The motor was wire to some batteries that allowed them to switch between a “hi” and “low” speed (series and parallel wiring) and so the boards could be switched to HI to catch waves and the LOW to sort of cruise back out. :) Here is an ad from back in the 60’s or 70’s for the brand.


It’s been ages ago, but we had a conversation with the folks from aqua jet about their eventual demise. One of the issues that they had with using honeycomb, wasn’t a structural issue, but instead was the ability to manufacture and change. It required molds and so as shapes changed, a new mold would be required and that made it financial impossible for them to keep up with shapers that were using foam blanks.

So structurally, honeycomb is a viable core material. Shaping it cost-effectively, is a different matter altogether.

In recent years there have been dramatic advances in the material used to create honeycomb. In the past it was principally aluminum – which corrodes with exposure to salt water. Platics, including ploypropylene and polyester based like PET are now readily available and some at local composites stores like TAP Plastics.

ThermHex 3

As we read that article it reminded us that we have a section of aluminum honeycomb laying around somewhere. Were not quite sure of the size or shape, but we thought it might be fun to build a see thru wakesurf board like the one that Doc Lausch made in the first picture above. So, we may start that project here shortly!

Another picture from Hong Kong. Apparently James is coaching in the ocean behind an RZ2. And also there would appear to be some wealth in the general area, as evidenced by the large array of yachts! We had to wonder how much an RZ2 costs in HK, as they are manufactured in Texas. What does it cost to ship a standard Tige almost to China? Anyway, not something that we’ll ever have to worry about!

Thanks so much for following along, we appreciate it.

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Oct 02

Ultimate surf style board

We mentioned yesterday that we had this epiphany out in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

There is no official guidance on riding style, with the exception of the limitation of surface rotations in the “surf style” division. BUT there is absolutely no guidance on what a surf style board is. No equipment regulations or definitions, at all. So we started thinking, why is anyone riding a surf style board at all. We sort of collectively have this understanding as to what surf style riding is, but that isn’t defined or enforced. Hell, riding a “surf style” board in a surf style division is really kinda dumb. It’s self-limiting, out of respect for what? All of those rules and regulations are gone.

So we remembered way back in the day when the Walzer wakesurf boards were still being manufactured. Sean Walzer was a regional skim pro and he and a friend developed a really sweet light weight wakesurf board that used low density EPS as the core, which was different than most skimmers at the time and they plugged in C5 boxes and fins to create a sort of twin fin wakesurfer.

That’s the ultimate surf style board isn’t it? Twin pin outline, light weight EPS core and two rail fins. Now remember, there are no definitions or regulations as we write this regarding equipment, so we thought we’d show everyone how to turn you “skim style board” into a “surf style board” which will make shuv’s big spins and the like so much easier in that division…at least until it’s eliminated.

So we started with our IS repaired board and a pair of C5 boxes. Then we just sort of roughed out where we wanted them to go. Now this board sold as a thruster configuration, but we didn’t want cheap wakeboard fins and we didn’t like the position of the factory placement, hence the shift to the C5’s.

photo 1

The first step is to mark a center line down the board as a reference for measuring out towards the rails and then up from the tail. We use a long straight edge and a sharpie to mark the centerline.

photo 2

We have a fin box measurement tool that is really sweet. It’s marked so that you can measure specific distance off of the center line. We lay out the distance from the tail and then the toe-in that we wanted. This board was manufactured without any toe sort of a simplistic entry level offering. Which wasn’t what we wanted!

photo 3

Then we roughed out where we wanted the fins to wind up. This will place the fins significantly further forward than from the factory. Your desired location might be different.

photo 4

Then we carefully route out the interior of the outline so that our C5 box will slide into it. The foam of this board seems to be polyurethane or maybe iXPS, not one of the higher end closed cell foams like divinycell or corecell. The XPS derived foams will melt with exposure to styrene, but polyu can manage it. If it was polyurethane we could use polyester resin to glue the boxes in, but we’ll use epoxy, just in case this is an XPS based foam.

photo 5

So our next step is to mix up a batch of epoxy and Cabosil to seat these C5 boxes and then also seal up the holes against water intrusion.

There you go, the future of surf style, until that division is eliminated!

Really if you think about the conceptualization, there is no equipment definition, the fact that no one has taken a skimmer into the surf style division is really just a fluke. Also, there is only one riding limitation, don’t do any rotations beyond a 7. Viola, the future of surf style?!

Go get you some! This process can also be used for just about any of the aftermarket fin boxes that you in custom boards. Futures, FCS, what-have-you. It’s measure, mark, route and then glue. As long as the board has adequate thickness, you can mange this process at home and sort of upgrade and old tired board with new fins and boxes.

Oh! and one picture from Hong Kong. This is along a thruway from the airport to where James is staying. The coaching sessions will be out in the ocean!!!! Hong Kong is considered an island just south of China.


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

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Oct 01

James Walker in Hong Kong

So James is traveling to Hong Kong to do some coaching for one of his clients that travels between Hong Kong and California.

Cathay Pacific to the orient

photo 1

The old international terminal at SFO

photo 3

Be a good dog, Cooper

photo 2

Heading off on another coaching engagement.

photo 4

So our plan was to spread out some of the videos and pictures that we took from before the WWSC. Here is a short compilation of James Walker doing some reverses. A ridiculously stalled out air reverse, a surface reverse and then a full air reverse. We’re also recycling some as we won’t have anything new until James’ returns next week.

Here is that reverse compilation.

For our mobile enabled friends, here is a link to that reverse compilation video.

We want to talk about an epiphany we had out in the middle of the Mojave Desert on the drive home from Worlds. Hopefully we’ll get to that soon.

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

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Sep 30

Observations and buoyancy

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
2) Buoyancy
3) Forces pushing forward from behind
4) Forces pressing down, and
5) Gravity

forces acting on ws board

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!

photo 1

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.

photo 3

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!

photo 4

Now lets add that same weight, the three quarters. Here is that picture.

photo 5

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!

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