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2017 DESIGN INNOVATIONS
 
 
 
March 28, 2017
 
 
 
2017 is only a few months old, but it has already offered us opporunities to explore and evolve surfboard design. Surfing Kauai this winter with surfer / shaper Dave Beck and test pilot Randy Davis fired me up to work on rockers that will fit in the parts of waves that offer the board and surfer the greatest opportunity to tap into the energy a wave has to offer. The theory of creating rocker that fits into critical sections to generate speed and power dates to the dramatic short board design revolution of 1966 - 1969. Design focused on trim to this point. Over night the focus pivoted to radical, high speed turns with surfers accelerating in and out of the pocket and from top to bottom of waves. Pretty amazing surfing compared to the elegant dance of trim and nose riding.

The "Modern Surfboard" for the convenience of this discussion would date back to the early 20th Century and the designs rode by Duke Kahanmoku, Tom Blake, and other fortunate surfers. These designs focused on trim. They were very long and relatively flat and thick. They had a lot of surface area and a lot of volume. Surfing and surfboard design did not shift it's focus beyond trim, nose riding, and steering boards around as much as turning them until the mid to late 60s. Short board pioneers changed all that from 1966 to 1969. Surfing and surfboard design focused on high speed turns, accelerating in and out of the pocket and up and down the face of waves. Boards were shorter, narrower, and thinner. They lost considerable surface area and volume - key elements of trim and nose ride designs. The loss of surface area and volume resulted in less energy juiced into boards and surfers were required to find new techniques for taping into the energy in a wave. This was a primary factor in the evolution of tail rocker in surfboard design. A design that fit effortlessly in the tight, critical sections of a wave had the ability to tap into the abundant energy a wave had to offer.

Low, nearly non existent tail rocker carried over from the last of the highly evolved LBs to the first short boards. Surfers and designers were still attached to the low tail rocker profiles. The developing problem was that these rockers did not fit well into the parts of waves that surfing was now exploring and ultimately these designs were not as effecient as they could be. Realizing that more curve was required for a board to fit into the pocket of waves a few surfer / shapers started to incorporate rocker into their shapes that mimicked the curves we find in the most vertical part of any wave. These curves allowed boards to tap into the waves' energy and ultimately allows the surfer to maximize all the performance possibilities on a wave.

This year's early innovations started when RD brought up performance when redirecting or down carving into the pocket on fast vertical waves. Initially we thought adding tail rocker over all and increasing curve in the rocker segment from wide point to tail would offer better release in this critical moment. DB entered the discusion pointing out we did not want to risk losing projection or down the line speed from this rocker adjustment. Ultimately, we developed a curve that maintained the "speed box" properties through the wide point to the center of the surfer's stance and added the "accelerating curve" we wanted to incorporate from that point out through the tail.

This rocker profile is not intended to be a "specialty" rocker - that is designed for specific conditions. (Specialty boards are great, but by their nature may only excel in a narrow set of conditions.) This is simply an organic improvement or evolution in rocker for all conditions.

In 2017, we will offer this rocker profile as an option for all our short board designs. It's a design option that will continue to perform well in moderate and all around conditions, but will excel in vertical and hollow sections of high quality waves.