Pushing the Limits

By May 4, 2017Shaping

To surfboard shapers tried and true designs are our bread and butter, but where would surfers be without innovation?  Still riding wooden planks? The evolution of our equipment has arguably changed the face of surfing more rapidly than any other sport in history.

Shapers industry wide have always pushed the boundaries of what is possible on a surfboard.  What seems like a crazy idea one can suddenly become an industry standard like the thruster.  As a surfer shaper coming of age during the ride anything movement the possibilities are endless.  Designs from every decade of surfing are being revisited and combined with modern rails, foils, rockers, and bottom contours.  Some have taken the ride anything movement to its extreme, riding strange boards just to be different with almost no thought given to the function of the design and I find that pointless.  My engineering background has taught me that one of the most important aspects of design is a clearly defined purpose or function. With a clearly defined purpose it’s easy to measure success, either you achieve your purpose or you don’t and go back the drawing board. Without it you are just creating something and saying “Well it doesn’t not work?” NASA didn’t put men on the moon by trying to get to mars and accidentally hitting the moon.   The clearly designed purpose for the  Saturn V was to create a noserider that produced more lift with less drag by combining the sensitivity of a board with a narrow nose and the lift and stability of a board with a wide nose.  I wanted a board that could produce levitating, out of the water noserides without a perfect peeling pointbreak section.

First things first I started with concept development. A pretty standard way to pull in a tail while maintaining a wide outline is to add a wing so I thought, “why not flip it around and have one in the nose?”  This gave me a narrow nose while maintaining the width and stability of my other noseriders. Now I had to compensate for the lift I would lose from the decrease in surface area.  I decided to add a flute to the wing. The flute would act as a hook grabbing the water that is sucking up the face of the wave thus pushing the nose up and out of the water.  I figured I could increase this by turning the rail in front of the wing down, feeding even more water into the fluted wing.

The next step was to shape it.  I knew extracting this design from the blank would be no easy feat.  Every planer pass had to be calculated to get the proper foil at the wings, the flutes would affect the bottom rail line, the rail in front of the wing would be completely different from the rail leaving it.  It was a long yet rewarding process and everything came together perfectly.   Glassing this board was no easy feat either having to wrap a large fluted wing in 8oz volan. After successfully navigating that it still needed  to be sanded and polished.  Finally it was ready for a test ride.  It’s hard to describe the feeling you get after successfully bringing to life a concept that has been in your head a while, with your own two hands. Something that (I’m almost certain) has never been done before. After the anxiousness starting in on the project and the moments where you aren’t sure if it is all going to come together ,when it finally does it’s something else. It’s the reason I am a shaper.

Click here to learn more about the  Saturn V

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