A dour look at the major board companies

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A dour look at the major board companies

Spotted this in a post about why boards are still largely made by hand unlike other composite toys like bikes. The author is a custom boardmaker (Witchcraft). I'm not surprised as it's possible to buy semi and custom boards for about 20-25% less than the larger brands.*

Quote:

Molding a windsurfboard isn´t easy. There are many more different materials involved all with their specific properties. Jinli and Terminatech do or did a one shot molding technique with the result you had no control over what got stuck well and what didn´t. Various brands went bankrupt of nearly because of their quality. The factory that started molding with concrete molds is now bought by Cobra I heard. Then techniques used in F1 and airplanes are not suitable for windsurfboards as they use prepreg, which needs autoclaves and EPS would melt and PVC deform. F1 also has lots more money to play with. Other techniques such as VARTM actually uses too much resin, boards end up 1-2kgs heavier, if you manage to make the PVC airtight so you do not suck your EPS full of resin in the first place.

Apart from the already mentioned costs brands have, also sailing levels have gone up loads in the last 15-20 years and with that the forces on a board. The apex seem to have reached it´s max a few years back and now it seems the forces on boards are slowly going down again due to sailors getting older and less newcomers into the sport. But the old molding production methods of pre-sandwich times still are nowhere near good enough for todays standards/demands. 3D printing is also still a long way off being able to produce a decent windsurf board.
I don´t think it´s the pricing of kit that stops people from getting into the sport. If you see what people spend on other stuff....It´s more that there are more alternatives now, some which may be less weather or location dependend, easier to learn etc. I think windsurfing is by far the best sport, but explain that to someone who just wants to do a sport to pass time and keep fit. Many people these days want instant gratification. Sometimes I hear windsurfing schools are full in Germany, Spain. But not a lot keep on doing the sport long enough to get planing and get hooked. Sales have dropped so much over the last years.

So what remains is good old hand work. At least you can check each step in between before you continue with the next. Not easy either, even after 25 years I am still improving but for someone with a good pair of hands and technical insight, do-able after a few years of practice to make something a bit better than Cobra for less money.

I think it doesn´t really matter, we´ll probably see some brands disappear. Pryde Group (NP/JP) have been making a loss since many years and their owner is desperately looking for a CEO to change this or a buyer. Maybe even the whole Cobra based system may collaps. Those who will still be windsurfing will still be able to buy decent quality kit for decent prices. Getting rid of the whole PWA, advertising and distribution costs will save a lot of costs. And these costs do not make a board any better.

https://sailboardsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=308&sid=b9222940348ade4a39d51803f2617494&start=10#p2704

* Tillo Int'l, Flikka, Carbon Art, North Pacific to name a few

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies

The more significant comment it seems was the preceding one, in the same thread:

"I really think we need a disruptive technology to break this particular cycle.
Boards are no lighter and no more durable than 15 years ago.
With less than 5000 boards a year sales world wide compared with 250,000 plus 15 years ago we are witnessing the death of a product cycle.
We really need a " Halfords" approach with the equivalent of £100 mountain bike to re-invigorate the sport. It just cannot carry on selling niche products to pensioners if it wishes to survive."

I question if that was true - 250k boards/year 15 years ago??? But nonetheless - even if it was 25k that is a huge decline. So declining sales volume, a more complicated product and the number of different models in each line e.g. Board X, 150 liter, 130 liter, 115 liter, in at least 2 constructions - standard and carbon and it all gets close to every board is almost a "custom" board. And, custom boards aren't all that custom are they? Don't most shops have a few shapes they build tweaking the construction (e.g. Tilio's foilboard in glass, glass-carbon, all carbon) or maybe a few other aspects.

I don't think it is all bad though - small time operators can make a living doing what they like - what's wrong with that? Apparently that is how surfboards have been done for a long time.

There is no off season.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies

The next comment bangs him on that, too. New boards are a lot stronger and better built because of the stresss of better sailors doing harder things like freestyle or being Balz

And there's nothing wrong with a 15 yr old method. Custom steel bikes are built the same way they were 80 years ago and there's been a boom in the last ten years of custom builders. Part of that is better steels and part the expanding variety of cycling like gravel and randonneur.
It's always been a tough business to Hough even with higher volumes

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies

Witchcraft may be overstating the strength requirements a bit relative to "normal" windsurfing.* He seems to be focused on the Fuerteventura market and the like - hard core wave riding. He makes his boards with Dyneema and shows off the strength of this material in his video. Dyneema is the stuff kitesurfing lines are made of. Pretty tough stuff.

*If there is such a thing. All I can say is that in all my years of riding, I've never taken a hammer to a board.

There is no off season.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies
Randy wrote:

*If there is such a thing. All I can say is that in all my years of riding, I've never taken a hammer to a board.

You're foiling now. The opportunities for mayhem have increased exponentially. It's amazing the shenanigans you can get to 30 inches off the water Biggrin

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies

Now he tells me. Shok

There is no off season.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies
Randy wrote:

Now he tells me. Shok

If we told people before they started, who, in their right mind, would windfoil? ROFL

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies
Randy wrote:

Witchcraft may be overstating the strength requirements a bit relative to "normal" windsurfing.* He seems to be focused on the Fuerteventura market and the like - hard core wave riding. He makes his boards with Dyneema and shows off the strength of this material in his video. Dyneema is the stuff kitesurfing lines are made of. Pretty tough stuff.

*If there is such a thing. All I can say is that in all my years of riding, I've never taken a hammer to a board.

Pretty much the whole upper echelon of windsurfing anywhere in the world is pushing limits way past where things were fifteen or even ten years ago. Here's Balz and friends.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies
Quote:

The opportunities for mayhem have increased exponentially. It's amazing the shenanigans you can get to 30 inches off the water.

I've got no problems at 30 inches Good 40 inches is where the trouble starts Shok

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies

Inside story about how someone's life changes after foiling.

There is no off season.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies

Randy, thought you'd post something from Trainspotting.

Saw Tove Lo perform a few years ago at Music Midtown. She felt her shirt was unnecessary. I appreciated her musical honesty. Wink

Chris, seeing those pics triggered me a bit. Can't say I miss that part of the curve. I think I did keep my friends pretty amused, though.

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Re: A dour look at the major board companies

Perhaps in going from 30 to 40 and up this is more appropriate

There is no off season.

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