Nobody reinvents the shape of the surfboard. Sure, some widen, lengthen or thicken it, altering the bend of the curves or the shape of the tail. But for decades, few shapers have veered far from the traditional elongated-almond shape that characterizes surf-craft. Not until Thomas Meyerhoffer, that is.
His new board dramatically challenges the conventional conception of what a board looks like, as it curves inward in an hourglass fashion, almost as if it had a waist.
"The board was not designed to look this way; it came this way. The only reason the side cut is there, is to take away material and to have a rounder curve at the tail and a shorter rail," said Meyerhoffer. "I basically took away in order to add."
Meyerhoffer was not always in the surfboard industry. He has created innovative designs in furniture, technology, and other sporting goods. However, he is a surfer and started thinking about how he could make a board perform differently.
"Surfing is an experience, and the original idea, at least, was to give people a slightly different, a remixed experience. It's sort of like remixing music or a fusion of different foods which you aren't really used to the taste," he said.
The new model, which comes in 4 different sizes, is a hybrid of a longboard and a shortboard. The board paddles really easily, but at the same time allows you to take off really steep without catching the nose. "It opens up a broader spectrum of what you can do," the designer explained. "It works like a traditional noserider when you're on the front. But when you step back, it turns very quick and it's very loose. It has a lot of speed."
Retired pro surfer Mike Tabeling has one in every size, and says he rides them all the time to experiment with how they ride different waves. He said he loves the hybrid feel of the design. "That's what the Meyerhoffer does--it brings back the fun of your shortboard days, as you can make this longboard really turn," he said. The first time he tried a Meyerhoffer board, he did a kickout when he went to turn because he was riding it like a longboard. "On my second wave, I stayed over the center of the tail. I pushed down like I would on a fish, and it just squirted out. It blew me away how fast and positive it felt."
Meyerhoffer's process involved a lot of experimentation. "The first time I took it out, I laughed. It was so much fun. It had so much speed and so many turns," he said. He spent several years refining the shape, until he was finally satisfied with the result.
The goal was to create something that wasn't just redesigned from a marketing point of view; he wanted something truly fresh and original. "I like products which are functional but also deliver a different experience to the user on an emotional level. I'm trying to do something which gives people a different input in their experience," he said.
Though many people are skeptical when they first see the shape, Meyerhoffer says he has received a lot of positive feedback from people who do give it a try. "It's really amazing to see how many people are liking it," he said. "The most amazing thing is to see people come back with stoke in their eyes."
Tabeling is really excited about the innovative design. "This was the first really radical change in surfboards, and I think in one to two years from now anybody who's used to performance in their surfing will want to be riding a board like this."
Click here to find out more about the board and how to buy it.