Jim Banks On: Thickness Reigns Supreme
These days, surfboard design and construction has become substantially more sophisticated than what it was just 10 or 15 years ago. A reflection of this is how volume is now an essential design and customer consideration. Pre CAD-design programs and cutting machines, it wasn’t impossible to calculate a boards volume and I did think about doing it many times. At the end of the day, it was just too impractical, and there was no real demand for it at the time.
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But now, with every board that’s designed or entered into a CAD program, we have a readout on the exact volume of the board, accurate down to hundredths of a litre.
This is a huge benefit to surfers: now a surfboard customer can order or purchase a board that gives them exactly the amount of buoyancy that they prefer. No more guessing for both the shapers and customers! And because the overall volume of the board ultimately determines the board’s ability to catch waves, and hence the amount of waves it’s rider will end up actually riding, volume has become a critical factor when it comes to selecting or ordering a board.
There are numerous ways to control the volume of a board. There are the obvious three; the overall length of the board, the overall width, and the overall thickness. Not quite so obvious is the deck contour, rail volume, plan shape and thickness distribution.
But out of all of these, one reigns supreme. The overall thickness. Why? When compared to all the other factors, the overall thickness requires only the tiniest adjustment to have the most effect. Not only does it have the most effect on the volume, but it also has the least effect on the board’s performance. So, for the most minimal impact on a boards performance and feel in the water, you get the greatest effect on it’s overall volume and ultimately paddle power. Thickness will still have an effect on the way the board performs and feels in the water, but when compared to the other design aspects, it’s effect is the most minimal.
So, when a shaper who knows his stuff, is adjusting a design to suit a customer, the focus, and the challenge is to provide the customer with what they need without compromising the design. When a board’s volume needs to be adjusted for a customer, thickness reigns supreme!
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