This years' San Diego Action Sports Retailers (ASR) trade show, was, as always, a board sports enthusiast's equivalent to a kiddy trip to the toy store. Held at the cavernous San Diego Convention Center, the trade show was packed to the gills with all types of new products, soft goods, hard goods, and anything else that relates to the action sports world. ASR always gives manufactures the opportunity to show retailers everything they have to offer an ever increasing clientele base, and brands new and old took full advantage of the opportunity by putting out amazing displays to woo buyers.
While the big name companies always put up the most impressive booths, a few emerging brands in the action sports world intrigued the heck out of us. Here are three unique products that caught the eye of Surfermag.com, as well as many retailers at the ASR show.
FREESTYLE AUDIO: WATERPROOF MP3 PLAYER
One product that grabbed some serious attention this weekend was a completely waterproof MP3 player designed and produced by Freestyle Audio. The completely submergible, skip-free, durable, and super lightweight product (unit weight is less than 25 grams) is a dream come true for surfers, swimmers, wakeboarders, and anyone else who would want to listen to tunes in places where they might get very wet.
Featuring two models that carry between 35-80 songs, the MP3 player comes with moldable head phones that hook around the ears, a neoprene arm band carrying case, and all the proper cables to hook it to your home computer. And, in the event that it does get knocked off by a big set wave, its extreme buoyancy will bring it right back to the surface.
The tiny tune powerhouse was displayed at the trade show pumping music while submerged in a fish bowl, and those who stopped by to check it out were blown away. Freestyle Audio creator and president Lance Fried, excitedly pointed out that the days of water based athletes unplugging from their MP3 players before hitting the water are over, and he was happy to relate the story behind the product. "I was at a party with my I-Pod and I was reaching into the cooler for a beer and the thing fell out of my pocket. Well, it went into the cooler and was fried, but it made me realize that a durable MP3 player that can get wet will make surfers and water sports enthusiasts go nuts. So we brought in the right engineering team, and the right people and made it happen."
The buzz around the booth indicates that Fried and crew have an instant hit on their hands with the action sports crowd, and according to Fried that is the only way he would have it. Freestyle Audio plans on distributing exclusively through core channels. "We are not going to take this through big box distributers. We have been approached by them but we're going to sell this product through board, surf, and skate shops. This isn't just an electronics item, it's a cultural new way to add enjoyment to action sports, and because we have a lot of core support we are going to continue down that path."
Check them out at FreestyleAudio.com
DOCKSLOCKS SURFBOARD SECURITY SYSTEMS
While Free Style Audio's MP3 player is all about pleasure, Dock Hook's Dockslocks Surfboard Security Systems are pure function. The security system, which strongly resembles a bike lock, uses a revolutionary set of mini, stainless steel retractable jaws that actually clamp into leash and fin plugs. The jaws of the lock, securely attached to a built-in piece of the board, make theft extremely difficult, and the reinforced cable can be secured to roof racks, or other fixed structures. Basically what Dock has done is create a user friendly security system for surfers.
Dock, who is a retired Navy SEAL, had the idea for the product back in 1978 when he reported to Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training in San Diego. "I checked in and I had my surfboard with me, and my bicycle. I had a lock for my bike and I kept riding it for triathlon, after triathlon, after triathlon, but my surfboard was stolen within two weeks. What this product does is it allows you to walk away from your surfboard to go get a cheeseburger and have the peace of mind to enjoy your food."
Until now, most locking surfboard systems have been cumbersome and attached to roof racks, but Dock's design can go anywhere with its owner, is as easy to use as a bike lock, and provides surfers with the confidence to walk away form their boards and know that they will still be there when they come back. "If we can put a dent in the rising global phenomenon of surfboard theft then everybody can have more fun and relax," says Dock, "and that is what it's all about to begin with."
MANA: BLACK PEARLS FROM TAHITI
Adam D'Esposito has been featured in Surfer Magazine's People Who Surf column, and is well known for his bravado at spots like Pipe and Teahupoo. His new business, called Mana, is something that has grown from his passion for surfing and the surf lifestyle.
A trip to Tahiti in 1998, and a few epic sessions at Teahupoo, had him working to hatch a plan that would allow him to be there on a more full time basis. "The first time I was down there I got a chance to surf Teahupoo with just five of my friends and I loved it." says Adam. "So I started thinking, how can I live here?" The solution came in 2000 when he decided to learn how to cultivate Tahitian black pearls. Working for the past few years out of a lagoon in Tahiti, Adam has been using a special technique that actually allows the oysters to be harvested for pearls roughly four times before they need to be replaced. In the process he has both created a surf trend that is beginning to explode, and a job keeps him close to the waves he loves. Mounting the pearls on leather, Mana has found a way to fuse the glamor of a pearl with the casual style of a surfer, and team riders like Tamayo Perry, Brian Conley, and Jamie Sterling have signed on to endorse the product.
According to Adam, "Mana" is a Tahitian concept that signifies a pledge, a promise, or a commitment. Through Mana, and because of his commitment to a life of riding waves, Adam has created a product that is beginning to catch on with trend setters in the surf world.
The ASR show is meant to spark the imagination of buyers and entice them to carry the brands showcased, and products like these should give retailers and consumers extra cause for enthusiasm this year about what the board sports industry is bringing to the table.