Innovations In Surfing

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 Surfing is such a spectacular event when you really analyze it from as much of an objective point of view as you can. After seeing some of these waves ridden in Nazare, Portugal recently, almost maxing out around 80-100 feet, I am still in awe of not only how surfers ride this stuff, but the very fact this is water, water being pushed up in to the size of mountains. What comes with the physical expertise to ride those waves, and smaller ones, is the technological advances and innovations where surfers keep pushing the limits of the equipment. Two latest announcements this week really push some of these boundaries.

The following reviews and updates come form various sources online.  From shop-eat-surf.com:

 

Channel Islands New Board Technology and Warranty Program

Channel Islands recently launched a patented technology called Flex-bar in its surfboards, along with a one-year warranty against breakage. This is a pretty big deal when you’re spending upwards of $700-800 for a board, only to have it break on you in your first week in solid surf, or even 6 months later, it’s still a big hit to the pocket if you have to go out and buy a replacement.

Channel Islands General Manager Scott Anderson said “…we use a combination of alternating EPS foam densities and fiberglass through the entire board attached to a composite sandwich foam running from the center out to the apex of the rail. It’s advanced and environmentally friendly. Not only do boards last longer, but using the EPS foam and Entropy/Super Sap epoxy resin, all Flex-bar surfboards are Ecoboard Project verified by Sustainable Surf.

“Additionally, Flex-bar bo­ards are built in our U.S., Australian, and European factories instead of overseas in Asia. By having everything in-house, it allows us to retain complete quality control over the entire process. It’s not a cheap process, but we really wanted to have that control and be able to offer customers a superior product with a superior warranty made by surfers for surfers.”

Current riders using these technically advanced boards are Sebastian Zietz, Parker Coffin, Yadin Nicol, and Kanoa Igarashi who have all won heats on the new technology. There is the sticker shock though, retail starts at about $850. Good news though is that they tested this board in the NLand wave pool in Texas and comments were how much better it rode than regular boards. But in the Texas wave pool everyone had a bigger problem than just how boards worked, no one could keep the wax on their boards in the 90°+ water.

 

You Otter Be Kidding Me!

Well it looks like us surfers will have a choice of wetsuit technology if the MIT scientists work out and finish their new advanced research, all based around the fur of beavers and otters.  Traditional neoprene on wetsuits works by trapping a thin layer of water against your skin where the body warms it and the neoprene keeps that warm water close against the body.

From OutdoorAdventurist.com:

“There are basically two ways that mammals stay warm in cold water—blubber and fur,” says Peko Hosoi, the head of Sports Technology and Education at MIT. “Big animals like walruses and sea lions use blubber, which is thick and heavy and cumbersome. But small, more agile animals like beavers and sea otters use fur, which actually holds onto pockets of air when they’re diving in and out of water. That air trapped between the hair follicles works as insulation for the animal.”

Three-millimeter polydi­me­­thylsiloxan (PDMS) rubber hairs are attached to the outside of a thin rubber base layer. As the fibers meet the water, the weight of the liquid pushes air into the space between the hairs, which are about one millimeter apart. That pressure creates tiny air pockets. The thermal conductivity of air is two to five times smaller than that of rubber, meaning it takes that much longer for your body heat to pass through. As a result, Hosoi believes they’ll be able to make a wetsuit that offers the same insulative properties while being two to five times thinner than your standard suit.

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