Technology and innovations continue to feed surf industry growth
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 12 January, 2014 - The surf industry was on a tear through the tradeshow circuit this week with stops at Agenda in Long Beach and Surf Expo in Orlando. And if your brand had anything to do with electronics there was a brief detour in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.
Exhausted sales reps, marketing managers and CEOs landed in Florida to kick off this year’s Expo. While Agenda cornered the lion’s share of the upstart brands with the best haircuts, Expo kept firing for the tried-and-true giants of the action sports industry, including giants re-invented as up-and-comers.
Former Billabong of the America’s chief Paul Naude was there to launch his Stokehouse Unlimited brands Vissla and D’Blanc.
“We’ve gotten positive feedback about the brand in the direction of the line being fresh and having a different look,” said Naude. “Our expectations are realistic though. We don’t expect to blaze a trail right off.”
Paul Naude gave props to the hardgoods market © Anne Louvet
But in this rapidly changing market, Naude said that inspiration is coming, once again from the water.
“In the last three or four years the hard goods manufacturers have been leading innovation, along with surf performance, so on the surf side of the business that’s where all the excitement is. Generally speaking a lot of the other product categories have become a little bit homogenous.”
New technology from brands like Hydroflex, Lost, Firewire & Surf Prescriptions earned much of the tradeshow floor buzz.
Firewire launched their Liner Flex Technology which is replacing their Rapid Fire technology, a thick carbon rod stringer has replaced smaller internal rods embedded in the foam.
Through a simple shift in design using basically the same materials, Chuy Reyna says the new LFT construction is 20 percent stronger and has better flex properties than the prior generation of Rapid Fire Technology.
"LFT represents everything that we’ve done as far as flex properties go,” says Reyna. “The LFT flex is closer to the Future Shapes Technology (Firewire’s iconic parabolic stringer design). It has a better sensation and a better feel. It has a truer flex throughout the board.”
Jeff 'Doc' Lausch and his Varial Foam design © Anne Louvet
Elsewhere on the showroom floor Surftech launched their new TL Pro Carbon, a special construction aimed at the high performance shortboard market. It's a multi-layered sandwich composite construction that incorporates a fiberglass T stringer. Surftech will be releasing Channel Islands, Rusty, Xanadu and Simon Anderson models in the TLPC construction.
Lost launched their Carbon Cork Composite technology which is exactly as it sounds, a carbon wrapped board with a cork deck.
The effervescent Jeff ‘Doc’ Lausch showed off his Varial Foam stringerless boards made from a new lightweight, high-density foam that mimics the flex properties of, as Doc claims, “that magic board.”
The final attendance numbers for the event will be available next week but according to Surf Expo’s Shannon Park the pre-registration numbers were strong despite the hectic trade show schedule for brands. “We are expecting the final attendance numbers to follow suit.”
Surftech's TL Pro Carbon designs © Duke Brouwer