Rusty Preisendorfer explains why your surfboard shouldn’t be bulletproof
Editor’s Note: This feature was made possible by our friends at Rusty Surfboards.
Like a beautiful pair of shoes, new boards need a little denting. They must be broken in. If a board doesn’t, there’s a good chance it won’t flex. And that wouldn’t be good.
In the early 1970s, companies offered composite panels. Aqua Jet, Hansen, WAVE and more. They fled and had other problems. Founded in Santa Cruz in the mid-90s by shaper Randy French, Surftech made a very strong and light board. Composite construction. At first it was long planks. Then in the early 2000s, they started buying a few shortboards from different shapers. Several major builders started around 2003. I thought it was a viable build. Excellent for beginners and weekend warriors.
I had some issues with the boards because they were made overseas in Thailand, but signed up. Several of our bestsellers. At the start of 2005. The deadline was around nine months.
Virgin Monday. December 5, 2005. Clark Foam has closed its doors. No warning; just a fax arriving around 11am. Less than a month later, we were at the Orlando Surf Expo. Probably the biggest. We agreed to let Surftech present our models on its stand.
Conspiracy theories have collapsed. Was it just the timing and good luck? Polyurethane foam was almost impossible to obtain. I had built EPS boards in the mid-80s, mainly for a wave pool competition run by the ASP at the time. It was in 1985 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
It was time to explore it again. Foam came in all kinds of shapes and sizes and varied widely in quality.
The resinâ¦ well, I got it initially from Greg Loehr. I first met Greg in the early 1970s when we were both riding for G&S. He was from Florida. A solid surfer. Greg continued to build EPS boards. He developed his own resin.
Along with many other board builders I have convinced retail stores to buy / offer EPS boards. When they first received them, they were all buzzing. Damn light! The problem was that after a few weeks of resting on the shelves, they began to turn yellow. Not just a little. They have really turned yellow.
âSorry, we can’t sell yellow signs,â they told us. âYou will have to take them back or exchange them for PUPE boards. “
Without a lot of PU foam, alternative constructions came into play. So Surftech exploded!
We have had a few spectacular years. I even had a 7’6 â³ Big Cat in my quiver. I took him to Tavarua after only a few weeks. Well rowed. Waves caught. From my first turn, however, I realized there was a problem: the board had no flex.
Some people really liked the durability and lightness of composite boards. Most were ultimately put off by the lack of flexibility, but that was not all. Something else was missing: wells for the feet.
When a board starts to get “right,” your feet naturally slide into their respective locations, which start with shallow bumps. They gradually deepen and become wells for the feet. The board has a lifespan.
Competition pros put their best boards aside for competition because they know there is a time frame in the life of a board when performance is at its peak.
Glazing? Too heavy and the board will feel dead. Too light, and the board won’t have momentum and won’t last long. As builders, we can manufacture either very light boards or very resistant boards.
And the type of resin? Polyester. Heals faster. Eventually it becomes brittle. Epoxy? I think it is a superior resin. It has better flex. Longer curing time. Stringer width. Coverage width. How much resin is left or extracted? Cloth. Different weights and weaves.
Lightweight and strong? It’s a joke we used to throw: âFast and loose, light and strong. I can’t have them all.
So understand that the new boards are like a good pair of shoes. They’re pretty good right off the bat, but they just get better and better over time. Then comes a day when you look at your beloved friends and realize it’s time for something new. It’s true. Beautiful things also have bumps and scratches.
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