Hi Welcome to Rogers Surfboard Reviews, today I thought we would talk about the types of surfboard constructions that are currently in the market and what that may mean to you when it comes time to purchase your surfboard.
Now for some people for the amount of surfing you do, you may not feel the need to explore any other type of construction other than the normal white board, timber stringer and maybe some carbon tail strips that can brought from really any surf shop that has boards. When looking around on line a new board can brought from some surf shops for as little as $399 and it will realistically do the job pretty well if your only surfing at most once a week to maybe a couple times a month. But there is a pitfall to this, usually these boards are pumped out really quick, glassed in something close to what is considered standard and generally don’t last very long. This is where maybe paying more for that board that doesn’t get used much and I’ll explain why in this blog. If the environment is something you care about then some of these alternative methods may also tick some important boxes for you, if durability is something that matters to you then a lot of these techs will appeal to you. If everything I just mentioned along with new technology excites you then all these techs will be something you’ll be interested in. Now I haven’t found every alternative construction just the most popular ones and I’m sure as time goes on more will come and go.I also didn’t look at a PU of EPS blank with a wooden stringer and epoxy resin as I feel that this type of constructions fits in same place as standard PU construction with only minor improvements in strength and weight with flex staying about the same in my experiences. The image below is your traditional surfboard construction, except change the epoxy laminate to polyurethane laminate.
Before we begin just so everyone who isn’t completely across what PU and EPS blanks are.
A PU black is made from polyurethane foam which is rather toxic and not overly good for the environment. PU is also heavier the EPS, less durable and when exposed to water sucks it up very quickly. PU blanks are also far cheaper than their EPS brothers.
EPS is still not that great for the environment but the best way to describe it is think of a Styrofoam cup that is EPS foam. It is a closed cell foam that depending on the type won’t draw in as much water as a PU blank but in saying that when they do it takes twice as long for them to dry out as it will hold that water so well. As time goes on companies are developing blanks that are 99% close cell which means it will draw in very little water
First we’ll start with the one that is I believe comes from the company who is doing the best to not only create longer lasting boards but environmentally friendly boards and that is Firewire.
Firewire offers 4 techs currently
- Timber Tek
Each of these techs comes with either level 1 eco-certification and in the case of Timber Tek it meets gold standard eco-certification which I’ll explain why shortly.
First we’ll start with the latest and greatest Helium:-
Helium is the latest tech that Firewire has released and is similar to FST as it has a EPS foam blank, timber rails a combination of balsa and paulownia wood and a deck skin that is infused with helium. It is slightly thinner than the FST deck skin but is still as durable. The first thing you’ll notice is how light the helium tech is it almost feels too light. Yet somehow it seems to handle chop better than some other types of epoxy boards, the blank in helium is EPS but comes in at just 0.6lbs. Once other thing you’ll notice is how fast the board flexes and snaps back things sling shots you out of any turn and around sections. While there are some doubts on how durable the helium will be I believe Firewire have found a good next level replacement for FST if they decide to faze it out which they have not yet confirmed. Helium also earns a level one eco-certification, if you after more on helium you can click here
FST is considered by many Firewire devotes and many others as the gold standard in durability. Like the Helium it has timber in the rails but only balsa instead of a blend and are 12mm thick and run all the way round the board. This also gives the board its strength and flex the deck skin however is thicker than the helium which is why it’s so durable. The flex response is slightly slower than helium, but to its credit I have picked 4-5 year old FST boards and other than the yellowing you would think it was just brought yesterday. The black in a FST is also EPS but is slightly heavier at 1.0lbs. If you after a long lasting board and can afford it I would highly recommend getting on these either new or checking out the second hand market. FST is also level one eco-certified, if you want to know more the you can click here
LFT is the closest thing Firewire offers to a board with a traditional stringer down the centre, except instead of it been ply it is a space composite high density foam in the middle of a EPS blank. The high density foam stringer will either be visible top and bottom in this construction on in some cases be covered by a thinner deck skin and have a carbon fibre band running round the top edge of the rail to help with flex and adding strength. This is considered the weaker of the Firewire tech by closest feel to a traditional surfboard with a centre stringer. I personally prefer this construction and helium in my day to day boards as it seems to suit my surfing the best. You’ll generally find that LFT is slightly more floaty than the FST or Timber Tek as there is no wood in the rails and the deck skin is so thin you pretty much have foam all the way to the glass while in FST and Helium the foam is reduced to accommodate the 12mm rails on each side and the 3mm deck skin top and bottom. Depending on the conditions LFT can also have the bouncing corky feel if there is a lot of wind and chop that EPS is known to have. I personally have never noticed but I know some people do. LFT is not as durable as helium of FST and is more prone to dings, it to is level one ec-certified. To find out more you can click here
Timber Tek is the stiffest and hardest of the Firewire tech. I personally love this tech in a small wave board like the Baked Potato and to slightly lesser extent the Spitfire as I class it as more of small wave performance board. This is good cause generally on a small wave board you’ll find yourself jumping or pushing harder on the board to generate speend. Timber tek is also the heaviest of the Firewire techs which allows it to sit lower in the water and cut through chop better. You’ll fine with timber tek is has a more engaged feel especially on rail. Timber tek earns itself a Gold level eco certification as unlike any board that requires fibre glass to seal the blank and give its strength, timber tek uses paulownia wood as the deck skin, bottom skin and in the rails. Which does reduce the amount foam required, the only fiberglass used is over the rails to seal the rails. To seal the top and bottom deck a bio resin hot coat is used to seal it all. Now not everyone likes now stiff it is, but if you want board that will last forever if taken care that is also about as eco friendly as you can get then this type of construction is for you. If you want to know more you can click here
If you want to know more about the hydrodynamics for the some of the Firewire boards you can click the link below.
Varial Foam is a tech that has come onto the scene with a very interesting construction. All boards can be ordered in either epoxy or polyurethane glass and resin. The most interesting thing about Varial is there is no timber rails, no high destiny string or timber stringer, no carbon fibre wrap nothing. The strength all comes from the foam, there isn’t much info on what the foam is made from but it is very strong and their state of art cutting machine allows boards to produced with extreme accuracy. While Varial foam has not earn itself any eco certification it has proven itself it every condition up to Jaws with Shane Dorian having most of his board make from this construction these days even his 9ft+ guns for paddling into Jaws. I really wish there was more on how the foam is so strong as I find it fascinating that a foam exists that is so strong yet flexes in a way that makes a surfboard perform as it should. Something else that is interesting with Varial there infused glass construction when they inject the blank with fiberglass and resin adding extra strength to the fibreglass that encases the board. While not readily available her in Australia I hope one day it is as I am very interested in riding one.
For more information on Varial please click the link below.
Future Flex is a patented construction from Hayden Shapes here in Australia, it’s a fairly simple construction over all that makes a very light yet strong board. Overall I’ve rather enjoyed riding a Future Flex board they are fast and responsive and has allowed me to carry speed through turns that I have not had before. Future Flex is constructed using a EPS blank wrapped in carbon fibre with a diamond cloth fibreglass and epoxy resin and hot coat. There have been some reports of the snapping, personally I have not had this issue. I’ve also notice it does not ding or get deck compression very easily which is always a plus since that is the biggest issue PU has. Future Flex is still not eco friendly but I believe in the future it will have the option to be as it is fairly similar to Firewire’s LFT.
For more info on Future Flex you can click the link below
Carbon Wrap is similar to Future Flex and was also developed here in Australia with DMS surfboards and then adopted by Matt Biolos from Lost Mayhem. Once again this a fairly simple tech that takes a strong light EPS blank and uses 4 thick carbon fibre bands across the bottom of the board flaring out and then wrapping round the rails just in front of the fins which creates a point that loads up and springs you out turns with speed and flow. To ensure there are no issues on the deck they’ve placed a series of carbon strips on ⅔ of the board that are fairly central. I’ve personally had V3 rocket in this construction and highly recommend of those who easy speed down the line and in and out of turns. The only pit fall is this construction will still ding like a PU and get foot wells which some surfers like. However for the $1200 odd a board costs this construction will not last as long as some others. But if you are a surfer who wants to try a different construction and can surf well then this may tick some boxes for you.
If you would like to know more please click the link below.
I have really only scratched the surface on the constructions that exist out on the market. But hope it has been informative you’ve learnt a little more about the constructions that exist today. Below are a couple of links to two others XTR is another construction that we don’t have here but I know they do ship to us a lot of the Tomo boards can be ordered in this construction along with Lost, Channel Islands and whole host of others that can be found at the link below.
Al Merrick has also come up with flex bar technology which is getting rave reviews but I am yet to ride one. Al Merrick has also earned itself level one and gold standard eco certification as they have started using bio resin on some of their boards as well. For more on flex bar click the link below
I hope enjoyed this article, please let me know your experiences on any other these technologies or any other others I’ve missed like JS Hifyi construction.
Till next time keep surfing, I have really exciting boards coming up over the next month.