the history of the people’s surfboard
The Wavestorm could very well be the people’s surfboard. This is the story of a piece of equipment that introduced millions of people to surfing.
Some would say it’s the best thing to happen to the surf industry since the wetsuit; others blame him for driving surf shops out of business.
Wavestorm is a controversial surfboard that has now cemented its place in the still tight-knit and closed surf community and culture.
But how did this popular board establish itself in the surf industry?
The Wavestorm revolution was one of the chapters that led to the commercialization of surfing as a global sport.
“In the early 1990s, after a century-long journey, the historical arc of modern surfing began to split in two,” notes Matt Warshaw, author of “The Encyclopedia of Surfing.”
“In the mid-2000s, wave riding seemed almost schizophrenic.”
“At one extreme, it was all fast, loud and shape-shifting, with millionaire professionals, surf-themed PlayStation video games and live event coverage.”
“At the same time, surfing, in general, was more sedentary and inclusive – even quieter – than it had ever been. And why not?”
“At the dawn of the 21st century, surfing was no longer a young sport at all. Parents were surfing with their children. Women and girls were finally taking their rightful place in the programming,” concludes Warshaw.
The birth of Wavestorm was inevitable. It was only a matter of time.
What is the wave storm?
Wavestorm is an affordable, entry-level, computer-shaped, machine-built, mass-produced surfboard.
The classic 8ft soft top surfboard model was released in 2006 by AGIT Global, a boardsports company from Taiwan.
The concept was co-created by John Yeh, businessman and CEO of the Asian company, and Matt Zilinskas, director of business development (CBDO) for the company.
Zilinskas joined AGIT Global in 2004.
Since then, he has been in charge of prospecting, setting up, managing and building client partnerships.
The Bay Area professional has also developed new product lines specific to customer needs, including the best-selling surfboard of all time.
When it first saw the light of day, during its test program, Wavestorm was sold exclusively at the American wholesale retailer’s Costco stores in California, Santa Cruz, for $99.99.
The goal was to get an affordable surfboard made from an expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam sandwich ready for a surfer’s first stand-up surfing experience.
The boards were a hit in Golden State waters, and soon the company was mass producing and expanding into Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, and more.
A commercial success
Today, the Wavestorm sells for around $250.
Despite the price increase, it’s still about three times cheaper than a similar competing hand-shaped board and features inexpensive base materials and add-ons.
Since its release, it has sold hundreds of thousands of units and has become a surfer’s worst nightmare.
The “popular surfboard” was available at Costco stores and warehouses, alongside food, drink, electronics, generic and prescription drugs, clothing and gasoline.
In the first decade, Wavestorm sold over 100,000 cards.
It is also the weapon of choice for many surf school owners and instructors and adaptive surfers to get in the water.
Wavestorm is very forgiving and fun.
It has good rowing power, turns well and is almost indestructible thanks to its thin membrane of absorbent foam which bends indefinitely without breaking.
The AGIT Global surfboard is one of the market leaders, selling many times more boards per year than the biggest surfboard brands in the world.
The company’s best-selling surfboard is a high-volume, low-profit-margin product.
From kook to kitsch
When Costco launched Wavestorm, the budget board became the symbol of surfing as a mainstream sport.
For the more conservative and purist riders, the low-cost surf craft represented the ultimate capitalist moment of selling and cashing in on surf.
In the mid-2010s, Wavestorm entered the increasingly conservative sphere of surf culture. Strange as it may seem, the cheap funboard has become kitsch, cool, and an indie contraption for riding the waves.
Professional surfers started surfing the Wavestorm for fun and to introduce their children, friends and relatives to surfing.
the cheap beginner surfboard has also become the go-to gear for party waves, shore break stunts, and grippy surfboard wave transfer experiences.
Photos of recreational surfers getting stuffed on the blue and white striped foam board have taken over social media.
During this time, the Wavestorm brand has expanded its product line.
Today, the mythical label produces classic funboard, but also longboards, shortboards, and even skimboards, and gear.
The user-friendly table has also been revamped over time.
Materials have improved – the foam sandwich formula has different layers, there are new designs, color schemes and additional fin options.
America’s Most Popular Surfboard
Surfing industry professionals believe the Wavestorm phenomenon will pass, just as the sport has experienced it”gadget.”
It’s once been named “the worst board ever”, but the truth is that Wavestorm has quickly become America’s most popular surfing contraption.
Despite the bad reputation, the safe and buoyant pop-out surfboard is responsible for introducing a carefree attitude and back-to-surfing experience.
The blue deck board with white stripes with a liberal return policy even has a Wavestorm World Championship event hosted by fans and pros alike.
It is also the perfect equipment for dog surfing enthusiasts and can be ordered quickly via Amazon.
If you own more than a handful of surfboards, the chances of you having a Wavestorm on your quiver are pretty high.
In the end, if Jamie O’Brien can get blasted at Pipeline on this iconic surf gear, we can have fun with it in ankle-high waves.
A virtuous circle
Wavestorm remains a hot topic in the surf world.
Critics accuse it of betraying the essence and spirit of surfing and destroying the businesses and jobs of industry veterans.
Recreational surfers are also split between those who think this is a setter/beginner board that should be out of the world’s best breaks and those who just want to learn or have fun with different gear.
The mindset of surfers has also evolved over time.
Some now refuse to store soft-top surfboards; others believe that Wavestorm type boards help bring new surfers into the lineup and market.
Could cheap foam surfboards be the starting point for millions of surfers before moving on to higher-end options?
Whether you think of it as a disposable bath toy or a beginner’s surfboard, the truth is that Wavestorm has changed the market forever.