SURFING MAGAZINE: What's so special about these boards?
NEV HYMAN: Surfburger technology [pioneered by underground Western Oz shaper Bert Burger] is all about the combination of the epoxy resins, the parabolic stringer and the vacuum sandwich construction. These things by themselves are nothing new. But Bert's played with every alternative and combination, and the results are speaking for themselves. Back home, he's got a year-long waiting list for his boards. But the absolute most important thing is that these boards are totally custom.
So what makes this the next big thing?
The surfboard industry needs something to preserve the cottage style of surfboard building globally. In some ways, we needed the influence from Asian boardbuilders to force the issue of higher quality construction. Those guys have done an exemplary job; and they've opened the minds of surfers all over the world to consider alternative technologies. That doesn't necessarily mean those surfboards superior to polyester surfboards in terms of performance, but they certainly are in terms of durability and availability. What we want to achieve is solving the very rapidly approaching issue that polyester surfboards have a very limited life on this planet.
How much stronger are these boards? Is there a way to quantify it?
We took one of my teamrider's boards to the US Open, in Huntington, and that board has been stepped on, jumped on and stomped on by thousands of people over those four days. I think it's the most abused surfboard on the face of the earth, and it's still basically ridable. At one point there were two police officers with steel-toe boots jumping up and down on it, and there's just a little ding from that. If you did that to any other surfboard, including other epoxy boards, molded boards and specifically P/U [polyurethane/polyester] boards, you'd be putting your heels through the skin of the board. You'd be breaking it.
What makes them so strong?
Because it's a vacuum-formed sandwich construction, the actual materials we're using are incredibly strong and incredibly flexible; they've got optimum flex memory. We've also got the stringer around the rail in a parabolic rail. But it's more than just the materials being used, but the way that they're used. My whole goal, along with Bert [Burger] and Greg [Loehr], is to make a board that performs as good as the best ultra-lightweight P/U board at the top level pro. If we can do that, then we've killed it, because the board's also going to be really resilient.
And your ultimate plan is to help other board-builders adapt this technology, as well?
That's the only way it can it can happen; and if it doesn't come from us, it better come from someone within the industry. Our aim is to provide a financially justifiable technology to do it. The industry is already very fragmented; you got a guy who shapes a board, sends it off to the glass shop and maybe even an artist, and then all he's got to do is put his decals on and market his boards. That's a perfect evolution for what we want to introduce; that we become a supplier of the technology, and the surfboard manufacturer — if he has an open mind — can comfortably transfer his P/U facility into a foam sandwich construction facility. This isn't about Nev. This is about the industry. I want surfers to want this technology from whoever their shaper is. This is the future, and I'm just going to enjoy it.