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!

Depression = Crack?

I’ve alluded to the damage a few times, but not had the time to put up these pic’s.

So, let’s recap … the forty one two is the board with deck depression, and as I’ve found it was cut from a ‘lite’ blank.

As you’d expect, once the deck compresses and the glass has to contour to new places it had not previously … somethings gotta give. I mean, after all it’s not a totally fluid or flexible material once it’s set. These have all been repaired … twice, and have all cracked again. As you’d expect, water has manged to soak into the blank, and so it’s been drying for a while. Now, I just have to find the motivation to repair it again.

Here’s a few pics of the damage, before the first repair.


The first one shows the cracking along the rail, which corresponds with the deck depression along the same rail line. I suspect I sanded too much along that edge, and then as the deck has compressed, it’s pulled the glass and it’s cracked at the weak point along that hard edge.






This next one shows the same rail line and the cracks up (down) the rail. As you can see, the deck is nicely compressed along that length of the rail. The interesting thing is that this rail is my toe side (I’m a natural footed surfer).





P1000736Here’s one of the cracks along the stringer on the deck. Again, no surprise it’s cracked along there since the deck has dropped all around it.




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!

Deck Compressions … you think?

OK, so it’s Deck Compressionabout time I showed you this stuff …

Having surfed the ‘forty one two’ a few times now, well, OK that’s an understatement, she’s been well, ah let’s say … ‘broken in’, it has a couple of deck depressions.

At first, I thought it was my glassing, or surfing it before it was cured, or maybe even the UV catalyst since I’d heard that can make the glass a bit ‘softer’ … turns out it she was cut from a ‘lite’ blank and therefore a bit softer than a standard blank.

More Deck Depressions

Depressed Tail

Lap … cut & free (not dancing)

On the first two boards I did, the ‘jazz” and the ‘forty one”, I did free laps … the ‘jazz’ turned out quite ugly, and ended up with a very uneven line of cloth which is quite obvious after sanding the filler coat as can be seen in this pic:

the 'jazz' - showing nose laps

It’s smooth, and only cosmetic, but I wanted better. So, with the ‘forty one’ I also did a free lap and tried to get a better line, hoping that would blend the lap better and be less ugly looking, but, not quite there as this pic shows:

The 'forty one' - finished Click on any of these images to get a larger view.

So, with the ‘forty one two’ I decided I would try a cut lap. My first ever attempt … so I tapped up the rails on the deck, and went about cutting the cloth more ‘neatly’, I even bought so new super sharp and awesome scissors which made the cloth trimming process much much easier … but, in my usually way, I invited the fuck up fairy back by trimming the cloth so some ended up inside the tapped line, this then lead to the issues when I went to ‘cut’ the lap, since some was overhanging the tape, but other parts were back from it … so I ended up with a bit of an uneven cut. Getting the razor blade to slide along the tap edge and cut was OK where the cloth overhung the tape, but when it hit the spots where the cloth did not make the tape, ah, messy again. Here’ a pic of the lap finished:

the 'forty one two' - nose cut laps

That ‘gash’ you can see on the left hand side is where I managed to put the corner of some sand paper into the foam when I was sanding the lap at that point … it was one of the spots where the cut lap did not sit well and needed a bit more effort to sand it down …the right hand side is he best lap I’ve done, and almost blends with hardly (relative to my two previous attempts) any cloth line showing.

So, with the ‘nineteen 97’ the plan is to do a cut lap and I will be taping the whole deck, using butchers paper to stop any laminate resin getting onto the deck, which, on the ‘forty one two’ resulted in a ‘bumpy’ deck … I will also make sure the cloth is well past the edge of the tape. Watch this space … I’m sure the fairy will be back !

PS: My ‘cut lap’ knowledge came from watching you tube video’s !

The ‘forty one two’ – sanded and surfed

It’s sad … a 41 year old bloke surfing wind swept wind swell, but still being totally STOKED!

Yep, I had to take the ‘forty one two’ for a paddle … it went well, considering the waves. This board will go … can’t wait to get it in some good waves.

As a refinement of the forty one, I could feel the pulled in tail, and less foam in front of the chest … the tweaked rails were noticeable, but the surf was not the best to feel them come into the equation.

Here’s a couple of pic of it finished:

The ‘forty one two’ – glassed and curing

OK, so I’ve found a way of stopping myself surfing it before it’s had at least some time to cure … leave the fin install …

The ‘forty one two’ is now glassed and waiting to cure.

Here’s a pic of the lamination, pre filler coat.

When it rains … add some colour!

After the bad weather yesterday, did I mention it was drizzle rain all do, so I could not even get the blank back out into the shed (it got to sleep inside), but today, was another story … intially overcast and light showers, I figured no glassing again today, but maybe I could get the logo on and see what happens. So I started mid morning with the logo, via the stencil again as shown in the first pic.

As the weather was not quite clear enough for glassing, I started to play around with adding some more colour … anyway, mid way through the tape up the sky had cleared and out came the sun, so I quickly changed the design idea to get it finished quickly so I could start glassing.


In the second pic, you can see all the tape up I did, which pretty much ended up wasted due to my plan to get it glassed this weekend.

So, here I am, at just after 9pm having managed to get the ‘forty one two’ laminated and tonight after dark, I got the hotcoat onto the deck using MEKP rather than UV catalyst. I post more about that when I get some pic …