For 2018 Airush released a completely new range of surfboards with 3 new shapes, in 3 new constructions, all as certified Ecoboards. Designer, Clinton Filen gives us the low down on the shapes:
Firstly, what brought about such a complete overhaul of the range?
Our first major step for 2018 was moving our surf production out of China to Cobra in Thailand. We have been working for some time to build a more environmentally positive surfboard and ultimately partnered with Sustainable Surf on the Ecoboard Project. For this, we needed an approved manufacturer with the desire to build a more sustainable product. Cobra is committed to various environmental initiatives that we feel are essential to our industry, such as Ecoboard verification, water recycling and energy-saving programs that are verified and authentic. I also feel that they have the best overall quality standards in the industry, and for Airush we believe in putting quality and performance before price.
The change in production required all new molds and tooling, so we took the opportunity to rework the whole range and take a fresh look at all the models.
Looking at the complete range, what was your broad idea, what were you chasing?
It’s very easy to get caught up in small variations between models, specifically when you look at the culture of surfing. Our objective was to have an extremely well-developed line-up that performs in as broad a range of conditions as possible. Every board gets tested, modified and refined in a wide range of conditions and riding styles. Ultimately, we ended up with 3 models that will take you from dedicated down the line to light-wind, onshore slop, and everything in between.
I believe the focus on developing a concise range works better for every level of rider. Even our International Team, with access to many prototypes, always ride a production shape once we have gone through the development process.
Take us through the 3 new constructions, what is the thinking behind each of them?
Each new construction is made from bio content epoxy resin with an EPS Core. This is the first step for all boards moving towards Ecoboards. We vary the core density based on the outer skin construction to optimize weight, price, durability, and responsiveness.
Looking at finishes, we have avoided the use of paint. Besides the weight and environmental negatives of painted finishes, paint tends to chip specifically on the rails and we wanted our boards to age gracefully.
The Custom Epoxy construction is our entry point into the range, with a non-sandwich construction, reinforced with Innegra in the standing area, a medium density core and a traditional stringer. This offers the most classic surf feel with a smooth response and a high amount of flex.
The Reflex Bamboo construction is a really groundbreaking concept, where we focus on a progressive flex by tuning the bamboo sandwich orientation in different sections of the deck. Looking at the board in person, you will instantly notice these sections. This stiffens up the nose area while creating an intermediate flex in the center, and as much flex in the tail as possible. We also developed the UD Flax rail, with the natural Flax material being 60% better than traditional glass for impact resistance.
The Reflex Carbon Innegra construction is Airush’s most premium construction. We took a lightweight core, with a durable Corecell sandwich layer and wrapped the bottom deck in an ultralight and flexible biaxial carbon layer, and the top deck and rails in a bombproof lightweight biaxial Innegra Carbon composite. This creates an incredibly flexible, lightweight shredding machine.
Down to specifics by model, what were the key changes in shape on the Converse, as it looks very close to the previous version?
The Converse was the most challenging to change as it has such a strong following with our intermediate to advanced riders. It remains the dedicated down the line shape for windier conditions. We kept the rocker, rails and fin positions very similar but reworked the volume distribution, specifically in the nose area. This gives the board a bit more low end and when you are not planing it helps keep the nose up out of the water for quicker acceleration.
And the Comp?
The Comp features a lot of changes that appear subtle, but impact massively on the performance when compared to the 2017 Compact. The Comp was developed from the ground up from our typical competition surf shape, where the riders are looking for a combination of speed and vertical snap.
We flattened the rocker to speed the Comp up, moved the fin cluster further back and closer together to loosen the board up, and narrowed the tail for more grip in high-speed turns.
The Amp II is a big departure from the Cypher from last year. Firstly, why is there a “II” in the name, and how did this board come about?
The Amp started its life as a pure surf shape in our surf collection (AMP I by Starboard Surf). The unique combination of a fuller nose, typical to a classic fish outline, is combined with a narrower pulled in tail, which also makes it ideal for the higher speeds associated with kiting. The relatively flat rocker and added width give the AMP II loads of drive, while the channel bottom creates more rocker in the tail for snap off the top.
Compared to the Cypher, it still ticks the boxes of a fast and fun wave machine that crosses over into strapless. The 5´4¨ is Julien Kerneur´s board of choice, while at 85kgs I use the 5´8” as my surf and kite crossover machine.
Now there’s a new board in the range called the Mini Monster, that resembles the Cypher, how does this fit in?
The Mini Monster takes the outline of the Cypher, which is incredibly fast and balanced while still being maneuverable, as a starting point. We then introduced a faster, more freeride oriented, rocker line, increasing the flat-water versatility. I would see the Mini Monster as more of an all-around freeride board with wave genetics than as a pure surf shape. We will touch on this within the freeride and foil range review, as the Mini Monster is also offered in a unique foil convertible configuration.
For 2018 all surf models are shipped naked (without fins or pads), why is this?
We feel that the surf market is mature now and many customers have a very specific preference when it comes to pad positioning, thickness, and size, along with understanding what different fins can do for a board. We worked closely with our accessory division (AK) to develop some unique products that really allow you to personalize your board, technically and visually. Key developments have also allowed us to avoid the traditional footstrap inserts in key models, while still offering a solution for riders who want to ride these boards strapped.
There are some interesting new products in the AK range of Fins and Traction. Can you tell us about some of the key products and how they align with Airush?
We have been hoping to see a fresh take on the accessory business for a while, and Dean Freedberg (the key designer behind AK) has taken his love for kiting, surfing and design into AK. It runs in an independent direction from Airush and is going to be a very fun an invigorating space.
Can you be more specific?
If you look purely at the surf space, we have developed some key new traction products such as a carbon reinforced ultra-cushioned pad set, for riders who want more padding and will be dropping our new Glue On Insert Pad (GOIP) in the spring that is a really unique combination within the traction range.
There is also a new Balsa Core Bio Resin AK6 fin set, which offers a really unique construction and flex pattern to a classic surf fin. These are only a few of the offerings in an area we are very keen to explore further.
How do you see wave riding evolving in the future?
Hmm, wow. I feel that kiting allows you to explore so many styles. On one side, I love the trend towards bigger boards and smaller kites such as the Airush Ultra with more of a classic surf style. On the other side, strapless is bringing on a whole new combination of powered wave riding and jumping that is super exciting to watch.
Any last words?
On the back of the previous question “Never commit yourself to one style, always maintain an open mind.”