There is a ton of information online about new technology in surfboards. Each brand has their own terms they use to describe the board they are selling. You will see lots of terms that make no sense to the average surfer. Our goal is to break things down to simple terms to help you understand what the differences are in construction which is the explanation of what the board is made of. There are hundreds of branded versions of surfboard construction with futuristic names that can be quite confusing but it basically comes down to three main kinds of construction: POLY, EPOXY and SOFT TOP. In order to understand these three types of boards we will explain the differences in materials and the ride feeling associated with these materials.
So you’ve been surfing your new board the past couple weeks and go to load it in your car when you notice some dents on the deck. WHAT THE HECK!? We all know the feeling but don’t fret, pressure dents (even big ones) are normal to see on both Poly and Epoxy surfboards.
Pressure dents on the deck are caused by a few things. As their name describes, the constant pressure that your feet and knees produce onto the top of the board compresses the foam over time. Many times people worry that this means the board is of lower quality or that it’s going to affect performance but this just is not the case. You can buy a $1200 board that will dent on the first session out (just ask the pros). After selling thousands of surfboards helping people at all levels of surf experience, we have determined that Epoxy surfboards are significantly more durable. In our estimation an Epoxy surfboard is 30-50% stronger than traditional Poly surfboard construction. The Epoxy board resin is engineered to resist impact better than traditional Polyester resin so you will see longer life in the board and less pressure dings guaranteed. This construction is ideal for the beginner surfer who is prone to be hard on their board. For more experienced surfers, they will enjoy not having dings appear as frequently.
If you surf, you WILL damage your board. Some of us have broken new boards on the first day! An elbow can crack a rail. Going over the falls can add an unwanted nose job. A knee can expose a stringer. A shallow duck dive can dislodge a fin box. Many times it’s not even while surfing (a doorknob or seatbelt buckle). Sometimes damage just magically appears (aka the phantom ding). There are even cases where the lip of a wave crashing just right results in a snapped board. Bottom line, if you want to keep your board in perfect condition, hang it on the wall and try something else. SURFBOARDS WILL DING.
SO WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?
The answer is easy, don’t surf. Sounds intense but unfortunately damaging your board is just part of the game of surfing. Especially as you learn, we all go through the growing pains getting to our knees first before standing or falling on top of the board. While our boards are definitely strong they are not indestructible.
Option 1: Traditional Poly Surfboards
These are boards made using a Polyurethane blank and glassed with Fiberglass cloth and Polyester resin. These boards ride great, have great flexibility and have been around for for decades but their main downside is their durability. If you want a traditionally constructed Poly surfboard the only way to reduce wear and tear is more resin and/or more fiberglass cloth. A thicker glass job is stronger and will help to resist pressure denting, however, more glass equals more weight. More weight means a heavier, less maneuverable board. The balance is a delicate one. We’ve done our best to balance performance and durability. Although we love the way they surf Poly surfboards are known for being easy to ding and expensive to maintain.
Option 2: Epoxy Surfboards
If you decide to buy an Epoxy surfboard, you will get a great riding board and will reduce your repairs as the technology is significantly more durable. Our experience is that an Epoxy board life is thirty to fifty percent longer than a traditional Poly board. The average cost of a ding repair is $50 at a good shop unless you fix the board yourself so having an Epoxy board can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Some people prefer the feeling of a Poly surfboard when it's in the water and others prefer Epoxy surfboards. Epoxy boards sit "on the water" where Poly boards sit "in the water" which is what makes an Epoxy board more buoyant and easier to paddle. Because we deal with a lot of new and intermediate surfers we have had amazing feedback on our epoxy boards which out sell traditional Poly boards by a large margin. Don't get me wrong, even advanced surfers love Epoxy boards but they are especially good for the newer surfer.
Option 3: Soft Top Surfboards
The third option is a Soft Top. There are various soft top surfboards on the market with varying degrees of quality. Soft boards are often called "Pop Outs" which basically means the board is made in a mold and has no fiberglass or shaping involved to make the board because it is "popped out" of a mold. Many soft boards are very low cost and have little to no structural integrity so in this case you get what you pay for. These lower cost boards have no fiberglass and resin structure, a soft bottom, plastic surf fins and a slick deck surface. At Degree 33 we make our own Epoxysoft hybrid surfboard which is a real Epoxy and fiberglass laminated surfboard with a special yoga mat material deck which requires no wax. This amazing board surfs like our regular Epoxy surfboard but with no wax required as it has excellent traction. One added benefit of this board is that it has a soft top which is safer and more user friendly without sacrificing the ride feel of a real surfboard which is why we confident these are the best riding soft tops on the market!
WHY NOT MAKE SURFBOARDS INDESTRUCTIBLE?
Performance, performance, performance... While you may not notice it at first even our standard epoxy has more flex than some other brands who make the “bullet-proof” epoxy boards. These “bullet-proof” boards are great for travel, however they are not always the greatest to surf especially for those who really want to progress. With that said, our boards are still extremely tough- it’s one of the benefits of all epoxy boards in general. Again, we’ve found a great balance between performance and durability. The key is to find a balance between ride performance and durability with our boards. Our goal is to build a board that is the best design which starts with a master shaper. Our legendary shaper Bill Minard has designed our boards using fifty two years of experience. We take the best designs and then build them in such a way where they meet the needs of our customer. Let's face it, not everyone needs a Ferrari. Most of our customers want a high quality board that surfs well and allows them to progress without breaking the bank.
As always if you have any questions on our boards, give us a call (800) 920-2363, email us firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our San Diego location to take a look.
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