In our last few posts we’ve mentioned that we had a rather unique wake surfer in the works that made heavy use of carbon fiber and various wood veneers. We’ve posted on a few sites the teaser pictures and over the coming days we’ll have some additional photos showing more of the deatils. It’s really a masterpiece of detail, from the Obeechi tapered point on the deck to the carbon fiber ‘ized futures fin boxes. We’ve gone out of our way to touch on everything we could. Challenging everything held sacred about a wake surfer! Ok, that’s way too hype filled. But we did want to try lots of different things on this wake surfer. So without further adieu, the pictures.
The deck side of the veneer wake surfer. There are 4 different types of wood veneer on the deck, that black isn’t paint, it’s Obeechi. Also if you look at the tail you can see there are hand painted pin lines between the veneer and the carbon fiber along the rails.
The bottom of the veneer wake surfer. There are three distinct wood types on the bottom, and if you look at the rail fin boxes, that black on the flange is carbon fiber.
Pretty sweet, huh? We thought we’d talk a little bit about the concept of this wake surfer and also pass along a few details about the materials involved.
When we first sat down to design this board it was in an effort to stay ahead of the curve. You most likely have seen James Walker wakesurfing a bamboo and carbon fiber wake surf board for the last two years and as is typical in this sport when a board is performing well it gets copied. Most likely you’ll see a lot of Bamboo and Carbon fiber this year. That’s not us, we just don’t like being part of the herd. We don’t mind being copied, in fact we kind of like it. We’re a few years ahead in the material and design aspect and so when folks copy us, rather than develop their own, we get a good idea where they are on the development curve, plus when you read industry insiders marveling over what we consider old school, you know they are rather “delayed” also. Those are good things for us here at Flyboy, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery AND it’s good to know how far back folks are on that development curve.
So, moving forward, Bamboo is a great material, cheap, easy to work with, readily available and relatively soft’ish. Absorbs energy well and when used in combination with carbon fiber it’s a great combination of tensile strength and compressive strength. BUT Bamboo has a few shortcomings. It’s cheap which is good but it’s not a wood, it’s a grass. In parts of Asia the stalks are used for all maner of things, like scaffolding! It grows ridiculously fast and is very renewable, but…it’s a grass. In your mind, think of trees in your front yard and the green grass underneath. If you were going to build something that was stiff and strong, the grass clippings? Or the wood from that oak tree? Bamboo is so plentiful in Asia it makes sense to use it for all manner of things. Like adobe in our country’s Southwest. Is mud and weeds the best building material? No, but it certainly can be used to advantage.
So we wanted stiff and stronger materials, but also we had some criteria. One was only raw wood in the veneer (more on that in a minute) and PLEASE no more unformity. Bamboo is a great, but wow can it get boring with long spans of it and if there are 5 other builders offering it, it’s boring AND common! Like walking onto a car lot and being greeted by the vast expanse of white chevy’s. All the same model and year. Blech. Anyway, if you’ve followed along with us you know that we simply can’t color inside the lines, we LOVE pushing boundaries and being the leaders in R&D efforts. We’ll fondly remember all of our ‘boo work from 2009 and as we read the guru’s all impressed with it, we’re sure that will bring back fond memories of years gone by in our R&D efforts.
Now, like we said wood, not grass. Wood is stiffer, stronger and can be oriented a little better than grass to achieve desired results. The down side of wood veeneer is it’s expensive. That makes sense, grass is cheap and readily available. Well at least more readily available that wood. We aren’t all about profit, we’re about performance and well being better. So we’re not locked into ‘boo strictly to make a buck or two.
Veneers come in a few flavors, as we mentioned we use ONLY raw wood veneers. The other more common variety is a paper backed veneer. It’s exactly like it sounds, the exterior or part that’s visible is the wood or grass veneer but underneath is paper. Like butcher paper. Did the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Yeah for us too. In furniture making and cabinet making veneers are used to save the cost of using hardwoods for the item being built. So those beautiful oak cabinets are probably plywood underneath a gorgeous wood veneer. The paper backing allows the veneer manufacturer to make really big pieces of veneer. Typically the raw wood only comes in widths less than 2 feet wide, so they use the paper backing to glue together enough of the raw wood pieces together to get to a 4 foot by 8 foot width. They also use various thicknesses of paper, 10 mil or 20 mil are common and the thicker paper allows the manufacturer to use less wood or grass.
That is to say for a common thickness of veneer that is 1/40th of an inch thick, the more paper that’s used, the less wood that needs to be used. Which would you want in your wake surfer? More wood or more paper? Yeah, us too! That’s why we insist on only raw wood veneers. But there is one more thing. The Veneer has to be glued down to the underlying wake surfer. Which do you think is going to give a better and stronger bond? Paper or plastic…no wait, that’s at the supermarket for bags. We think that bonding directly to the raw wood veneer gives the best, strongest bond. What does the veneer manufacturer use to glue the veneer face to the paper backing? Probably contact cement because it’s FAST and cheap. That also creates a barrier between the underlying core and the wood veneer, so when a paper backed veneer is glued to a wakesurf board the epoxy doesn’t physically bond to the wood, only to the paper. Right, not as good! Demand wood only.
So in the pictures you’ll see that there is no piece of veneer that is more than about 15 or so inches wide. That’s a dead giveaway that it’s NOT paper backed. If the wakesurf board you’re looking at doesn’t have any visible seams in the veneer, it’s got paper underneath. That was part of what we wanted to achieve a design that used raw wood veneer and that was clearly evident for consumers as to what the content was.
Now also, it may look like the various patterns are strictly asthetic, but in fact there are some performance enhancement configurations. Ok up at the nose, that’s 100% just pretty, but back at the tail the grain orientation and tightness of the fibers are selected to give the stiffest, strongest most responsive spring back. The full length Obeechi strip on the deck, starting wide and narrowing also has function, that stuff is crazy stiff and almost acts like a horizontal springer.
So that’s the update for today and hopefully we’ll get some better pictures of this beauty up in the next few days.
We really appreciate you following along and taking time out to read about our goings on here at Flyboy Wakesurf!