In the past 30 years surfboard design has become more about changes that are incremental rather than monumental. Pick up a high performance surfboard from 1990 and one from 2017 and the changes in design over that 30 year period will be fairly minimal. The dimensions and bottom contours will likely be different, but the differences in the overall shape will be far less extreme than those built in 1990. Think about it this way, Kelly Slater could probably compete somewhat successfully on The World Surf League Tour in 2017 on the same board he rode to his first World Championship in 1992 designed by Al Merrick.
Unfortunately sci fi surfboards that are used by today’s Hollywood action movie heroes – The Silver Surfer – which feature wings, jet motors and can fire rockets simply don’t count.
Many of the biggest advances in board design in recent years are being made in materials, rather than in design templates. Gold Coast shaper Darren Handley from Australia has a stable team of World Surf League team riders that includes World Champions Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmour with Matt Wilkinson also performing well on the World Surf League Tour. These surfers are using cutting edge materials in their world tour surfboard quivers. Handley’s newest construction is his Epoxi CoreLine a hybrid of PU and expanded polystyrene foam – EPS. The PU foam sits on the rails to maintain a traditional feel, but the centre of the board is lighter, stronger, with a more buoyant EPS foam.
There are also a wide choice of materials available today, more carbons, better fibreglass cloths, better resins, better fins and plugs. International surfboard companies are starting to spend again on research and development programs as surfing becomes more popular with more global users being attracted to the sport and lifestyle.
The key to surfboard design of the future is from a board being designed on a CNC shaping machine then being able to control the variables in surfboard construction. If you can produce a surfboard with the perfect blend of design, flex, weight and balance and reproduce that on a consistent basis in the manufacturing process this will please surfers all over the world.
So there you have it, do you your research on-line in regards to your favourite surfboard brands, then go check out products available during demo days and test ride them. Go talk to your chosen surfboard designer in your area and start to build a rapport with him and custom build your own personal surfboard quiver suited to your own style of surfing. For example, over the next 10 years of development you will have taken your surfing to the next level with improvement from each of the boards you order and ride and you will also have the ability to pick and choose what surfboards you wish to order and surf in various surfing conditions at your home beach or when surfing overseas at different beach locations from small waves to big wave surf breaks. There is no better feeling in surfing I believe, than when the waves are absolutely pumping and you have surfboards suited to those waves and you can push your own surfing performance levels to a new high.