This week Channel Islands released photos of the latest Kelly Slater prototype board, named the "Chunnel." It is Slater's most recent exploration into the realm of futuristic and unusual equipment.
Inspired by powerful U-Class (Unlimited Class) hydroplane racing boats, the board features a (decidedly boat-like) channel through the back third. A deep vee transitions from the channel to bold concaves, which extend to the rail line. While the focal point of the board is the deep channel running through the tail end, the Chunnel also features parabolic stringers and a carbon fiber laminate, which appears to serve as a stringer for the nose and midsection.
The channel, which is a small-scale adaptation of a U-Class hull, is designed create lift by allowing air or water to be compressed through it. This affect can be seen in hydroplane racing boats, as their hulls create lift allowing them to glide smoothly over bumps at high speeds.
Will this design translate to surfboards? It's hard to say, but if someone can make it work, it's Kelly Slater. Slater's experimentation has continually forced us to reconsider design and convention. From the Deep Six to the Manta, Slater has continued to push the boundaries, albeit with mixed success. Although Slater has received criticism for his experimentation, the question remains: will it work? Or rather, will it work for anyone besides Kelly?