Evolution of surfboard design

surfers_evolutionSo, the latest evolution in the FFW Surfboards design process is curing … damn, don’t ya just hate the waiting to cure process!

Anyway, while the surf is not doing much around here today, I thought I would look back at the evolution of the design process for this ‘all rounder’.

It all started with the ‘forty one’ … why that name? Simple. I made it for my 41st birthday.

Then, it was tweaked, to take some “excess” foam from the front third, and pulled the tail in a bit. This one became known as the ‘forty one’ II … pretty simple naming process!

That design was then tweaked further with the addition of the full concaves into the AKU Shaper design software. Now, if you have not read here already, I can not believe how accurate the software, to cut board, process works. It is amazing, so much so, that with the first two boards, I was tentative with what I saw on the screen against what I thought the cut board would come out like … well, no more, and with this evolution of the ‘all rounder’ which I’ve tagged as the ‘forty one two’ – mkII

Which brings us to this latest incarnation of the ‘all rounder’ … the ‘forty one two’ – mkIII … which has the lower rails, refined concave ‘shape’ and ‘depth’ with a slight reduction in the overall width … but, keeping the volume basically the same as the previous board.

So, what did I learn with each of the design tweaks?

The first board, the ‘forty one’, as I’ve posted on here felt like it had too much foam in the front third and had too much overall volume. It felt too “big” in the front half of the board, and lacked some turning ability which I know was due to the tail, because having pulled that it on the next one, the turning ability dramatically improved. What I also found was in using the design software, adding in concave … yeah, get your head around that first … you add the concave by pulling down the edge of the rail … so, the volume in terms of ‘thickness’ can be reduced when you add in the concave via the design software.

This also, made me realise, that when I did the first board, because it was cut flat, when I hand shaped in the concave I actually flattened the rocker … so, by using the design software and adding in the concave, I ended up with a better rocker. This however, left me with a board that had a funny ‘keel’ under my front foot as I pushed the double under the front foot … only to realise that it could be smoothed by pulling one of the design points, so that now in this latest one, the ‘forty one two’ – mkIII the keel is gone and the shape of the concave has been “smoothed” out …

The current one I’m surfing performs well, in waves that are not flat … it likes a wave with more shape, does not have to be big, but needs to have some shape, otherwise it’s just dead … in small surf, it gets up and goes, actually all of them have, which has been a surprise, but the difference in performance with each is noticeable once the waves get some shape and I can actually ‘surf’ the boards. This last one, likes coming off the bottom and a can fly off the top, when I put the energy into it … if I’m a bit slack, it bogs, but if I can give it the energy and make sure I hit the top turns in the right spots, it comes off the top very nicely. In some running waves during some point surfs last week, it was awesome … I even managed one small little runner that become a bottom turn, sliding, lose fin top turn, slide, back to bottom turn over and over down the line. Fun!

The other aspect with the mkII version, is it’s comfort in tubes … I think I’ve had more green room time on this one board, than any other board I have ever ridden. I seem to get into waves easier (maybe the light weight blank giving it some more zip?) and so can get into waves behind the peak  so I can then tuck under the pitching lip … where, previously, I would get pitched, or have to surf around the breaking section having been caught up in the lip …

So, I’m now waiting for this latest one to cure so I can go surf it!

Showroom Condition?

Forty One Two - mk III - outline after glassing
The ‘forty one two – mk III’ – outline and planshape

What a difference ‘professional’ glassing makes!

As you may have read, the glassing quality of the last one, was, well, let’s say below par … So, with this one, I went to a different glassing service and the result is chalk and cheese compared to the last one.  With many things, if you pay slightly more, you get a better product or result. Well that is NOT the case here.

I now have a new, custom surfboard in showroom condition. And, it was better value for money …

The previous one (i.e. the poor quality glassing) cost me $240. That was for 2 layers of standard 4 oz on the deck and 1 layer of 4 oz on the bottom, FCS equivalent fin plugs and the leash plug.

This one, was $220 for … wait for it … “S” cloth, 2 layers on the deck in 4 oz with a layer of 4 oz on the bottom, plus the carbon rail patches at the tail (as you can see in the pic), fcs fin plugs, and leash plug … plus, they sprayed the board white! So, not only a awesome glassing job, but all round better value.

Learnt my lesson.

Big thanks to Saltman aka Dave for suggesting this new glassing service.





Here’s another pic’s of this new one:

Forty One Two - mk III - rocker and foil
The ‘forty one two – mk III’ – rocker and foil



NOTE: If you click on any of the pictures they will open as a full page image!

Forty One Two – mk III … design tweaks

med rail tweakOK, so you’ve probably read about my design issues with the next shortboard …  see my ramblings down the page.

My goal is to work this one out, then experiment from the base design, and to be honest, while the last few boards are getting “there”, it’s not quiet there yet. Each one is getting better. I could have saved myself some time and cost if I’d just trusted that the AKU shaper software was true ‘what you see is what you get’ …

So now, I’ve taken then Forty One Two – mkII and tweaked it some more … mainly the rails in the mid section, which you can see in the pic here. I’ve also backed off some of the concaves, just a smidge, and I worked out how to get rid if the ‘keel’ type ridge that was being created by the double concave.

So, I think I’m about there … tweaks done, time to get it machine cut. Thinking I might go with a standard blank this time, for some added compression resistance. I’m also going to talk to the new glasser, and see what they say about adding a heel patch, or just go a different cloth. I’ll keep you posted.

Let’s see how this one goes!

I am getting just a tad excited …

PS: How’s the rail measure points at the 1/2″, 1″ and 2″ mark in off the rail … one of the new features in the upgrade AKU Shaper software. Made it super easy for a newbie like me to tweak the rails, and know exactly how much I’ve adjusted them compared to the original file.

NOTE: Big thanks and shout out to to Nick Carroll for his comments, input and suggestions made over in the Real Surf forums … you can read the discussion over there here: http://forum.realsurf.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=24350

Ride Report – design flaws

Forty One Two - MkII 031Been riding the Forty One Two – MkII for a few weeks now, and with the latest run of swell I’ve had a variety of waves to get a ‘feel’ for the board.

So, let’s recap, this boards has all it’s bottom contours straight from the AKU design and machine cut.

I went with a single concave, with double inside, and as you can see from the pic here, the double runs a fair way up the board … it’s not just through the fins, and with that, I feel this is the key element that impacts how this board handles.

It get’s up a goes …

BUT, it has this  tendency to be unsettled when I weight the front foot. FWIW, I am not a goofy …

It ‘feels’ like it “rocks” on the double, and when I look at it, there is a slight ‘keel’ under my front foot … which is what I think I  feel … when it’s got some speed, and I’m surfing off the tail, I can not feel that ‘rocking’ … it’s only when at a lower speed and driving a bottom turn from the front foot, or even just getting set as the wave starts, as I get to my feet and get into the wave … basically, anytime weigh is more front foot.

There is also a lack of “drive” at lower speed, mainly in smaller waves … it feels like the water flow across the bottom of the board is being ‘broken up’ by the double too far up the board, and so the water flow is not hitting the fins as “smoothly” as possible?

Now, the funny thing is that this subtly keel, was totally visible in the AKU design in the 3d render … and when the board was cut, I was tempted to take it out, but I did not want to flatten the rocker too much, nor take out too much volume. I really must learn to go with the feel and intuition.

So, long story short version the board works. It floats, turns, and can be “surfed” … it’s not a keeper, but it’s part of the evolution.

The next one, the mkIII will have slightly lower volumed rails in the med section … tail and nose are fine, just needs a tweak through the mid section, and I’ll take out the ‘double concave’ through the mid section too … volume should come out about the same then …

Oh, yeah, fwiw, the next one will NOT be a ‘lite’ blank … having done all the others from lite blanks, I really do not like the feel … too light in better waves and a bit less “stiff’ so the flex is different. Will be interesting to see how the MkIII in a standard blank goes, with a quality outsourced glassing job.

I’ll keep you posted.

Is it a “professional” glass job?

Picked up the new board, the ‘forty one two – mkII’ from the glassing service today.

Maybe I was expecting too much?

Which begs the question … What was I expecting?

Well, to be honest, I thought I would get a ‘showroom’ condition board back. You know the look and feel, just like you find in any surfboard shop … smooth, nice blend of the laps, no cloth showing and no dry spots.

Am I asking too much?

Rough behind fins Dry Spots


Woohoo … new board’s ready


The Forty One Two – MkII is glassed and ready to be picked up.

Just gotta check when she was laminated … I’d like to give her a couple of weeks ‘cure’ time before I surf it.


Cut Blank to Finished Shape

I bit the bullet this morning. After waiting all day for the rain to ease yesterday, I really needed to got into the ‘ozito shed’ to finish the cut blank so I can take it to the glasser tomorrow … after some shed repairs, well, almost …  I’ll post about that separately.

So, I set up theForty One Two - MkII bay and got into finishing the blank.

I started with the ‘dags’ on the nose and tail, then into the finer finishing of the tail. Using the trusty yellow plastic saucer from my gidget’s cubbyhouse, I added the ‘curve’ to the rounded square tail. In the process, the bottom from tail to the 18″ point on both the deck and bottom got a hit.

From there it was onto the fine tuning of the nose, which was again frustrating because the stringer is not centred, and trying to get it looking right becomes a process of chasing my tail. It’s still not perfect, and looks a bit like a micro version of an old 70’s single fin … you know the ones with the thick noses.

I’m really happy with the bottom contours, it’s  single into double concave, and  have basically come straight off the machine cut … other than taking the machine grooves out of the blank, I have not touched them. Actually, for 90% of the blank that’s been all I have done. The rails took a bit of work to get the final curve and shape where I wanted them, and not wanting to make the board too asymmetrical I decided to stick with the base from the machine cut and computer design. I think the rails may need some more tweaking in future versions …

From start to finish … 2 houForty One Two - MkII - convavesrs!

Then I spent some time checking fin placement measurements, and marking up the points onto the blank … that took another hour, mainly due to my attempt to measure once, mark once (by double and even triple checking as I went along). I ended up going with the rear fin at 3 5/8″ with sides at 11 1/4″ … I have ‘measured’ to set the toe (i.e. rather than the x off the nose line up process) … went with 1/4″ toe.

Then it was time to add the FFW ‘logo” by stencil, which took longer to tape up, set up and wash up than actually doing … 30mins and all done.

As I was waiting for pictures to load for this post I went out and gave the logo a hit with some clear acrylic spray to stop any ‘bleeding’ when it’s glassed. So, all done in just on 3 1/2 hours … I’d hate to be getting paid piece rates, but as far as an easy weekend project goes, it is really not that time consuming.

Forty One Two - mkII (tail roughed in)


Machine Cut and Outsource Glassing

imagesPicked up the machine cut blank today for the ‘forty one two – mkII’ … it looks and feels refined. Into the ‘ozito bay’ over the weekend for finishing off, a stenciled logo and then off to be glassed next week … Yes, I’m outsourcing the glassing on this one!

The machine cut blank was $110, and the glassing will be $240, so $360 for a new board I designed myself!

Here’s the AKU ‘customer sheet’ for this one:

the ‘forty one two’ – mkII

Oh, yeah, BTW, it also a ‘lite’ blank so we’ll see how it last with a professional glass job.


Next One – the ‘forty one two’ MkII

The next one has gone for a machine cut!

I’ve refined the ‘forty one two’ to now include full single into double concaves in the AKU file.

I’ve also tweaked the rails.

In these screenshots, you can see the comparison to the ‘forty one two’.

AKU - centre slice comparison to the forty one two


AKU - 1ft tail slice comparison to the forty one two


AKU - tail slice comparison to the forty one two



Interesting thing I realised is that ‘adding in’ the concaves in AKU actually increased the volume. Which is the total opposite of what you get when you hand shape in the concaves (i.e. you take off foam to make the concaves when doing it by hand). That’s then lead me to realise that the rocker is also different, albeit the rail rocker and not to the centre / stringer rocker …

This then led me to think that when I cut in the concaves by hand on the last one, I have actually flattened the centre / stringer rocker.

Hand shaping vs machine design … bit of a mind twist!