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Board makers ride niche waves

By Roger Renstrom | PLASTICS NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Posted March 3, 2010

 

Landau with Onda board
Sergio Landau of Pardau LLC with a $130 cruising Onda board. (Plastics News photo by Roger Renstrom)
SAN DIEGO (March 3, 4:50 p.m. ET) — At least one marketer of stand-up paddle surfing envisions a critical juncture for the increasingly popular boards.

“I feel the SUP market is becoming saturated,” George Arzente said in an interview during the Action Sports Retailer trade show, held Feb. 4-5 in San Diego.

Warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale Corp. was selling a Taiwan-made, soft-surface SUP board and paddle for $429 in early January, said Arzente, president of all-U.S.-sourced Catch Surfboard Co. LLC of San Clemente, Calif. The Costco inventory “sold out quickly.”

“I believe kayak companies will find a way to enter the SUP market,” he added.

An unnamed Midwest processor manufactures Catch’s products, including a $1,000 special-order, 28-pound, 10½-foot SUP board on which surf legend Tom Morey, known as Y, and designer Brian Peterson collaborated. Previously, Catch boards were made in Taiwan.

The SUP board is less expensive and safer, offers high performance and is more durable than standard SUPs made from traditional surfboard materials, Arzente said. Catch licensed the Y-brand surfboards and Morey’s technology in late 2007. Peterson “has vastly improved the boards, from the shape down to materials and overall quality,” Arzente said.

In a related market, Catch is developing a Black Lite body board blank with positive and negative tension resulting from heat lamination. Catch filed for patent protection in January.

In the SUP niche, 360 Inc. of La Mirada, Calif., has an 11½-foot model for $839, and a 10½-foot version for $699. The firm is exploring material options and, for now, uses heat to laminate high density polyethylene sheet film to each SUP’s foam core.

President Mike Maslowski said he is experimenting with a reactive polyurethane hot-melt glue and a selective radio-frequency-transmission heating process to bond the film and core. Maslowski discussed his requirements with material vendors at the NPE2009 trade show in Chicago in June. “I am not giving up on it,” he said.

360 Inc., a division of Roller Derby Skate Corp. of Litchfield, Ill., since 2003, markets skim boards, surfboards and swim products in addition to SUPs.

Among its inventions, Pardau LLC of Laguna Hills, Calif., markets the $130 fiberglass-reinforced polyamide land-based Onda cruising board through retailers.

“The Onda board is not for hard-core skateboarders, but it is useful for everyone else,” said President Sergio Landau, a retired medical-device engineer with roots in Brazil.

Rolling on four black or yellow 7-inch-diameter wheels, the 40-inch by 10-inch board has a low center of gravity and a tight turning radius. A rider can self-propel the board.

Landau began development in early 2008 and conducted trials in December 2009 with students at four middle schools in Orange County in California. Earlier, Landau had college students test the product. Components are molded in China and assembled in Laguna Hills.

Landau said the Onda product name is slang for “on the” board and refers to different kinds of waves in Italian, Portuguese or French.

Wave Skater LLC of Fraser, Mich., is expanding distribution of its $150 body board of ethylene vinyl acetate and closed-cell HDPE to the West Coast and Hawaii.

“No two [Wave Skater] body boards have the same appearance,” said Tony Girgenti, president of the Wave Skater West unit. Blotches and streaks give a personalized tone to each unit.

The body boards were produced in Massachusetts from 2005-06, but the contract manufacturer had an ownership change and stopped making the product. That factory was using a steam-chest mold and experiencing problems with size consistency.

Beginning in early 2009, a Taiwanese firm began production and solved the expansion issue. The manufacturer leaves the product in the mold for about three hours and allows gases to escape before removing the part. “In March 2009, people were waiting for the board when it returned to the East Coast market,” Girgenti said.

Wave Skater has 12 U.S. patents on the design. “People want to duplicate the process,” Girgenti noted. Most body boards are molded of polystyrene or straight EVA.

Wave Skater West has established a West Coast storage and distribution site in Carlsbad, Calif. The parent company’s East Coast storage and distribution facility is in Morristown, N.J.

Sick Performance Concepts LLC of San Diego offers its Surf Grip body-surfing accessory for $20-25 retail.

“You can catch more waves, body surf, paddle or hydroplane,” said Michael Sick, president.

The Compton, Calif., plant of Foam Fabricators Inc. molds the expanded PE body, and DRG & Associates’ San Diego Custom Extrusions of El Cajon, Calif., molds the embedded ABS grip. The item measures 11 inches by 7½ inches by 8 inches.

“We are just getting the word out and expect 2010 to set us on our way of becoming more popularly known,” Sick said. “We’ll be doing championship competitions on the East and West coasts. Due to our price point and convenience, we expect to be as prevalent as the body board.”

Firewire Surfboards LLC of Currumbin Waters, Australia, added the hybrid Rapidfire surfboard to its line. Priced at $595 plus freight, the board has a bamboo top-deck skin and a waterproof core of 2-pound fused expanded polystyrene foam with embedded carbon-graphite suspension rods sized a quarter-inch in diameter.

The Rapidfire surfboard does not require a vent, unlike two other more expensive and more dent-resistant Firewire models.

Firewire said the rods optimize flex patterns and maximize speed and drive-through turns.

In entering a related market niche, Firewire is manufacturing kite boards in conjunction with professional rider Felix Pevic. The U.S. price: $799 plus freight.

Firewire moved all production to a factory it established in Thailand. Previously, Firewire shaped boards in Australia and San Diego.


 
SurfinDaddy Expo Product Review

Welcome to 2010!  Time for another round up of the news from SurfExpo 2010 in Orlando! 

Surfindaddy & Kay (cee) dropped in on Saturday, the last day for the show  - January 16, 2010.  Each year it seems there is an overriding theme – but sometimes trends stick for a while, and so it is this year – the big news is still all about the SUP – Stand Up Paddleboards!   The thing Surfindaddy really likes about SUPs is that fact that when there is no surf, you can still have fun and get some exercise!   One can explore the intra-coastal waterways, check out the local whitewater (if you have some near you) or fishing areas you just can’t get to any other way.  We saw SUPs by all the major manufacturers and the prices are coming down.

expo10

This year, there was even a pool set up in the Convention Center so that those who wished to do so could give it a try – first hand.  Surfindaddy would almost assuredly have given it a shot had we had more time to spend, but we knew we had a lot of ground to cover!....

 

 

 

 
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