If a few passes of sandpaper are enough to change how boards feel at the highest performance levels—traditionally where advances in board designs have come from—what does that mean for dramatic changes in board shapes in the future? “We’re always experimenting as much as we can,” said Marcio Zouvi of Sharp Eye surfboards, who makes boards for surf video-game character Filipe Toledo. “But touring pros have very little downtime.
In other words, it’s possible that we have already reached the pinnacle of a performance board’s shape. “I look at these shapes from the guys way out there in left field, lots of these groovy little labels that charge a thousand bucks a board, or I’ll see an all-carbon board and the shaper says, ‘This the future,’” says Preisendorfer. “Then I’ll dig up a picture of a board just like it that I made 20 years ago and put it on Instagram just to show we’ve done that before.
Reynolds had an idea for how to improve the board, so he marched into Merrick’s shaping bay and handed it over. “I feel like you need to scrape a little bit right here,” Reynolds said to Merrick, gesturing with a swiping motion at a spot on the board where the nose rocker begins to flatten into the deck, near where Reynolds plants his front foot—a part of the surfboard that most surfers probably never give a second thought. “Dane showed me with his hand what I should do with the sandpaper on the next version of the board,” Merrick says.
Shaping machines and construction techniques have improved dramatically in recent years, and they’re key to copying the magic board, but they’re not quite ready to pump out flawless reproductions. “If I could dictate what happens with high-end board production in the next few years, it would be to somehow replicate the magic ones,” Merrick says. “I remember my dad and I talking about this in 1990, when shaping machines first came out; we thought we were finally going to be able to do that.
With that said, one of these four world-class shapers didn’t rule out the possibility that a true breakthrough for surfboards may lie ahead, capable of completely changing our perception of both catching and riding waves. “In 20 years’ time, I reckon we are finally going to have little motors in our boards,” says Handley. “That is my dream—having a little motor on my board so I can out-paddle Parko at Snapper and get all his waves.
Tinkering with easy-to-use board-design software can pump one full of chaotic visions of the future of surfboards. “Boards with fins on both sides of the board,” you might think to yourself. “Why not? ” You can use a computer to dream up asymmetrical boards with channels running from nose to tail, triple wings on one side, continuous curve on the other.
He’s an actual designer, who, in addition to his day job creating impossibly cool gadgets for Apple, also runs a surfboard business, selling boards of his own design. “That depends,” Hoenig said. “Do you want the board to actually work?
He puts the PU foam out on the rails to maintain a traditional feel, but the center of the board is the lighter, stronger, more buoyant EPS foam—training wheels, sort of, for the surfer who wants to experiment with EPS foam, but isn’t ready to leave the comfortable feeling of PU behind. “We have so many more choices in materials today,” Handley explains. “More carbons, better fiberglass cloths, better resins, better fins, better fin plugs.
Read more here: Surfer Mag