The meaning of…
Ever wondered why nobody has ever designed the perfect surfboard – and why it is unlikely they ever will? Or why we aren’t all riding titanium and carbon fibre boards from the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation that last forever and cope with every wave the planet can throw up?
Its because: it’s the journey, not the destination
As I am sure you have noticed, what actually happens is that surfboard shapes evolve through trial and error and with moments of inspiration along the way which result in whole new types of boards which then continue to be developed, carrying the best from previous generations forward. It is evolution in action and for the past 50 years it has happened in glass. Its not a single design creation from computer powered engineers – its much cleverer than that, its evolution.
But to actually answer the question, the reason nobody has designed the perfect surfboard is because: A) its hard to say what perfect is; B) even if you knew what is was, how on earth would you go about designing it? If the answer is 42 – just remind me what the question was?
Evolution in Glass
In the quest for great board designs, hydrodynamic theory doesn’t help much other than at a very high level – its just too simple minded to deal with the detailed challenge– the air sea interface in a moving wave is far too difficult to model with mathematical approximations – and then the range of surfing “moments” to be considered means there is little chance of an analytic route to optimal designs even if you had a decent model to start with. “Moments” such as take-offs, big turns, down-the-line, jumps, big waves, little waves, glassy, bumpy, fast, mellow …………not to mention riding style , ability, weight – and add in surfers aesthetic and cultural preferences, all this need to be factored in to the design – that’s why designing a shape is not a job well suited for computers and engineers - its just too hard to do. We need an approach much better than that – and since Boeing cant be relied upon to divert their whole R&D to surfboards – what we need is lots of trial and error on a common standard so that what works can be built on and made better. That’s what we have and its why we say that boards evolve and are not created. And because different surfers need or want different boards, whole ranges of different shapes have evolved and will continue to do so. And we can have all the fun of debating what works and what doesn’t and eventually a consensus emerges and that is what will be made – and then we can remember past evolutionary cul-de-sacs and re-introduce them into the mix. And so the fun continues…
For over 50 years Shapers throughout the world have been evolving their shapes against a common construction method. The glass/foam approach is well understood and it makes it easy to try new things out – and it is easy to copy ideas and adapt them. It’s a small community of professional shapers and they learn from each other – and one generation passes on the knowledge to the next. Technology has helped make this faster and more cost effective – CAD packages along with computer controlled milling machines speed up the process, allow shapes to be recorded and exchanged and preserve the finishing and design skills of the individual craftsmen. It’s a very slick and sophisticated design process indeed - its evolutionary.
Water is a heavy fluid – and the forces it generates when moving are large. Small differences in shape make a big difference to the speed and ride of a surfboard. And getting the right shape to work in a wave is not just about being able to manufacture to high tolerances - its about creating the subtlety of line that great shapes that work in waves are made up of. Foam is a tremendously subtle medium to capture these lines in. If you can think it or feel it then foam can capture it. Foam isn’t constrained by the need to prefabricate laminates to fit on a core, nor is it worried about whether a mold will release neatly – and a Shaper doesn’t need to compromise between what they want and what curves are possible - if they are working in foam.
What works in glass stays in glass.
The shapes that evolved in glass are optimised for glass. Change the materials and you need another set of shapes. Ever really wondered why super light pop-outs feel skittish? Its not because they are made of a lighter and stronger material – that’s very often a nice thing – its because they are less dense, have different flex AND are made in the shapes that evolved using glass/foam construction. We don’t make glass boards in the shapes developed for solid wood boards – nothing wrong with wood shapes but they don’t work in glass. More modern construction methods that have the same level of design evolution as wood or glass could produce amazing boards – in fact there are some great ones out there already – I bought an excellent Firewire longboard which I’ve had lots of fun on – be sure these designs will steadily improve as shapes are developed to exploit the materials – but these won’t be direct copies of the shapes that work in glass.
Great shapes are not Magic Boards
Great shapes are necessary but not sufficient to create magic boards – one more ingredient is necessary - though what’s missing is not magical. Magic Boards are not a mythical mysterious thing – magic boards are just great shapes that are varied within their design limits to suit individual surfers – getting the right combination of shape and final board is about understanding what needs to be changed to a great shape to then get it just the way you want – and when you ride it, you can feel the difference – and that is magic.
Why we do what we do
At Endeavour we know what shapes work in glass and we:
We hope that explains why we are what we are: a web based shop with an end to end supply chain – which allows us to bring all of this together in your web-browser – and we hope you love the great shapes of our glass boards as much as we do.