You want to improve your surfing performance with your next board. How do you do it? Here's a case study on how one surfer transitioned from their Hypto Krypto to progress their surfing
Above, the Hypto Krypto is an award winning surfboard with a high profile. Below, construction stood up well under several years of use
The surfer, we'll call S, had been given a great surf shop deal for a Hypto Krypto with grip, leash, fins. The Hypto Krypto is an award winning model with a great promotional profile courtesy of surfers like Craig Anderson ripping on it.
Though S was only 5'10, weighing 70kg the Hypto was 6'4 bringing in 43L volume.
At times first one out in the water, S gets surf technique and surf fitness coaching, and is committed to progressing their surfing.
Faithful to the Hypto over several years, the board held up well seeing a lot of use in daily surfs on the Northern Beaches, travels through Central America and intermittent trips to Indo.
Seeing a board performing well at your local break can give you more confidence in the design than seeing one used in perfect waves somewhere else. If at your local break, another surfer is surfing well with all your breaks lumps, bumps and closeouts, there's a good chance that same equipment will help you progress too
Feeling that their Hypto was limiting their surfing, and as I'd seen how S surfs, they asked could SURFit make a board to help them progress to the next level?
S had read our SURFit articles, seen other surfers at their local break on SURFit boards, and wanted the opportunity to improve.
The one specific request S made was to be able to do better top turns.
Getting easily into a wave sets up your whole ride. Forward paddling speed comes from the right volume distribution, not just the volume, and the entry rocker. Entry rocker is more important than volume as a good rocker will enable you to catch waves even if your board volume is sub-optimal. Entry Rocker is the curve of your board under the nose. It helps your board move forward on the wave and the wave move under your board
What I'd observed from S's surfing was that in surf up to shoulder high S could get onto waves but had to put a lot of effort into the last part of the paddle-in. Once on their feet the board was slow getting going out of the takeoff. Fast waves would often run away leaving S in the foam, or if the wall was crumbling the board would have trouble getting to the open face.
Not catching waves is often wrongly blamed on not enough volume. In fact too much volume, and too much volume in the front, can make your board over-buoyant so water moving up the wave face pushes you off the back of the wave. Too much volume tends to make you want to paddle onto the wave, where you get caught up. Instead you should be paddling into the wave, at times even under it, taking off just before or under the lip section
In bigger waves the board seemed to push back at the moment of takeoff making the takeoff overly critical. Once on the bigger wave though the board cruised on the open face.
S's board was 6'4 x 21 x 3 x 43L, with full nose and drawn in rounded pin tail.
With S's 70kg, the 43L volume offered more than enough float. If it was just about volume the board should have been giving great performance.
How To Approach Your Next Surfboard
With any new board there's two main objectives you should consider, and we prioritised these for S.
Your Board Has to Be Fast
A fast board will send you flying out of the lip even when doing a top turn on a small wave. With speed, every wave becomes lively and fun. Every moment you feel your surfing improving
If it's not fun you won't want to ride your new board or go surfing - and fun equates to speed.
If your board is fast you can catch waves, make waves, have longer rides. With longer rides you can practice turns and new moves. Once you've got speed you can easily work on your cutback, reentry, or whatever you want to do.
With speed, you can feel your surfing progressing on almost every wave.
For S the design of their SURFit board focused on speed.
It's hard to work out a board when it's standing alone in a rack in a shop. Even looking at two boards side by side you need a practiced to know what to look for. A direct 3D comparison, such as SURFit uses, gives a clear indication how the Hypto Krypto diverges from a high performance shortboard. Understanding where you are with a board gives you a plan on how to transition and progress to your next
Transition means looking closely at what you're surfing now and where you want your surfing to go.
Although the idea of jumping on a Pro model surfboard and ripping is attractive, it just won't work - regardless of what the surf shop might tell you. To improve your surfing a board has to match you, your physical characteristics, your skill level, your surf breaks, and help the transition from what you're used to riding.
To really improve your surfing and bring about a lasting result you need expert advice to guide you through transition steps in your surfboard design.
Why might you need a few steps?
If you make too big a change from your old to new board it can take a lot of time and effort to get the improvement you want. For example, going backwards having trouble paddling, blowing takeoffs, or constantly kooking in front of your mates can create a big hurdle and disincentive to your progression.
Alternatively, keeping your new board too much in your comfort zone, too similar to your old board, won't give you progress.
A transition approach takes into account your current board design, the problems you're finding with it, and how these correlate. Moving forward in several steps means removing board problem features while taking the best and incorporating these into your custom board. New features are added, optimised to help with your surfing goals. For S for example the new board was optimised for better top turns.
The Case Study
For S, the areas in red and green indicate those needing attention in the old board design. Attention was needed not just in the outline. For example, as the old board was 3 inches thick the red areas forward of mid accounted for a fair amount of volume that was hindering take offs and take off speed. In the case of the green area around the tail, this was area that was missing, causing bogging
Bulky Nose, Narrow Tail
With S, exploring the current board quickly identified a very bulky front and too narrow tail.
Too much area and volume in the nose created a few issues. The extra volume, while giving extra float, created too much buoyancy making it difficult for the nose of the board to paddle into and down the wave.
Getting onto the wave was also hampered by a compromise entry rocker. This means the rocker was okay for paddling but not optimised for wave entry.
The extra bulk up front also made the board track in the first direction it took. It tended to want to drop down the face. Once on the wave it wasn't that responsive. It was hard to get the board back up the face, to do quick agile turns.
Surfers like Craig Anderson don't have this problem with their Hypto Krypto as Craig's Hypto is about 5 inches shorter than his 5' 9 height. It's easy for him to throw the shorter board around. It was a whole different dynamic with the board S had been sold, the 6'4 Hypto being 6 inches longer than their 5'10 height and way over-volumed.
The 21 inch width should have given good planning speed, however all the width was in the front of the board. So once S stood up there was less area beneath their feet in the rear of the board, so the tail would tend to sink and bog.
This image shows foot placement on take-off, in purple, then having to shuffle forward to get speed, in orange. The most area of the old board was at the front. So taking off and once standing at the narrow tail, the board would bog and slow. This resulted in the need to move forward to try to get speed. Having to shuffle and move around is tricky and especially so just after takeoff, greatly increasing the risk of a slip. Also once positioned forward the board was much harder if not impossible to put into performance oriented turns
S would try to compensate for this and shift forward in an attempt to get speed. Having to move up the front also meant S's feet were shuffling around at a critical time right after takeoff greatly increasing the likelihood of a slip or over balance.
The New Board
The new board design. Top priority is speed. The SURFit C Channel DC, Double Concave, bottom shape is straight out fast, and generates speed boosts in turns. The double concave also acts like a spiral vee, helping the wider tail get on rail for carving turns
The first design decision for the new board was to maximise speed.
Easy Nose Entry
The rocker entry chosen for the transition board is a touch harder to paddle than a lower entry design but once near takeoff the rocker picks up the wave speed, taking off effortlessly, gliding into the steepest faces.
S had shown they had no problem paddling and was just needing the new board to give an edge getting into the wave.
The entry rocker was a proven curve used across the SURFit 3 and 5 Series models.
Fast Bottom Shape
To this entry rocker we added a super fast bottom shape, that works great especially in shifting and mushy beach breaks. This is the SURFit C Channel DC, Double Concave.
This bottom consists of a reasonably deep single concave throughout that's fast. To this fast single concave a variable depth channel is added making a hull concept. This hull flows into a DC, Double Concave, through the fins.
It's all about speed. The variable depth channel aids water flow as the water naturally goes from the shallow to deeper point of the channel. Variable depth also means the shallow channel at the front enhances lively responsive turns without catching, while the deeper channel at the tail either side of the fins gives a boost sweet spot especially when worked.
The tail channels also provide a vee effect, called a spiral vee. This helps the board get on rail, for rail-to-rail carving turns.
This image taken from our SURFit article on rail design provides an example of hard (top) versus soft (bottom) rails. Hard rails give more drive, good for bottom and top turns, though if not incorporated into a cohesive design can catch. Soft rails don't catch as much and are good for messy conditions
To further enhance speed, rails were kept harder. S wasn't burying rails in turns so they didn't need to be fuller or softer. Keeping the rails harder maintained the optimisation for speed and provided an edge that S could drive off the bottom and setup the desired top turns.
Flat Deck Less Thickness
A flat deck (top), provides a number of advantages over a rolled deck. In our SURFit custom board the flat deck profile can be finely controlled to give you the best volume distribution, rail design, foot stability, and assist with rail-to-rail surfing. At the same time unnecessary bulk and thickness are reduced
Where possible the thickness was reduced throughout while maintaining some familiarity with the previous board. Less thickness while retaining volume was enabled via a flatter deck design.
The flatness of the deck was carried through towards the rails, giving volume, but stopped before the rails, that were kept lower, responsive. S wouldn't need to push too hard or put too much weight on the rail to be able to turn.
The flat deck gives a better platform from which toes and heel can leverage the board into rail-to-rail turns, essential for performance surfing. The flatness also aids stability, as your feet land more stably on the flatter deck surface.
This is the transition board. While the changes in the wider tail and narrower nose might be more easily noticeable, there's also changes in the entry rocker, bottom shape, rails and deck line. All improvements to speed surfing progress
The outline was changed so that the extra area at the nose was moved back. The bulky nose width was reduced. In this way S would feel a lot of comparative freedom up front, more easily able to throw the board into and out of turns.
Instead of the narrow rounded pin a wider rounded square tail was incorporated. This would be the single biggest outline change and the biggest aid to S's surfing progress.
Once on their feet S would be able to have speed from the back of the board. The extra tail area harnessing more of the wave power, spreading weight over more area preventing bogging.
The wide tail was thin so responsive under the back foot. S would be able to direct the board easily from the tail for fast responsive turns.
Being able to get speed and drive the board from the tail meant S would have less need to move up the board, reducing risk, and could concentrate on manoeuvers.
All Comes Together
Comparing the old board and the new transition board, here's the dimensions.
Old 6'4 x 21 x 3 x 43L
New 6'2 x 20 1/8 x 2 11/16 x 36.66L
These numbers tell part of the story, showing an incremental transition, something S could easily manage in their surfing. The changes to the rocker, bottom shape, and nose and tail outline, advance S's surfing in the areas where there were problems so deliver a major performance improvement.
Customisation also includes being able to enhance the construction.
S's previous board, having an epoxy stringerless design with rail carbon, was transitioned to an updated epoxy construction.
The latest EPS foam provided a super resilient core. New advanced composites were used for the glassing. Instead of carbon covering the rails, Innegra inlays were used on the rail deck line. This material was chosen to specifically remove the problems common to epoxy construction such as chatter, bump and inconsistent flex, giving a solid consistent flow to the board.
Compared to the old board, the new board feels lighter, high performance and responsive.
Custom surfboards, optimised for you and the waves and breaks you surf, open up a whole new level of surfing performance
For S's surfing, another big benefit is that all aspects of the design are saved online, instantly accessible. The exact board can be reloaded, reproduced or customised and optimised with slight or large changes for the next evolution and progression.
This is a transition board for S and opens the way to a whole range of new board designs, a path of rapid improvement while having a heap of fun along the way.