*The 2012 Expo*
Surf Expo is always fun – and the 2012 Expo was no different!   There’s always a bit of chaos; the people, new products, it’s always fun to see what’s going on in the industry.  There was this little girl on this SUP in a pool, she had all sorts of skills to be so small – she was doing 360’s on the nose of an SUP.  She walked to the tail and pushed it around again like she was on a wave, but she was in the pool on flat water.  It would be interesting to see how she would handle a wave.  There were friendly people everywhere, and more new stuff than you can shake a stick at.  Check out the Orlando Surf Expo, but for our take on things, stay right here and see what we found.  Everything that has anything to do with the watersports industry and what makes for fun in and around water was all around us.  It’s all great stuff; almost overwhelming in scope and way too much for me to cover it all, but there are a few things that stood out.

*Body boarders*
We got to visit a bit with our old friends at Waveskater – we can call them old friends because we met Bruce at his first visit to the Orlando Surf Expo in 2007!   Bruce has kept a positive attitude through all the ups and downs of starting and running a business, and it seems to be paying off.  This year his WaveSkater Pro is faster and more flexible than last years’ model, and it is being enjoyed by lots of bodyboarders.  Bruce has a really good feedback loop and is taking advantage of it to improve the product, and improve the product he has!

Last year we met the folks from WaveJet – their propulsion device is one of a kind, and they’ve now expanded their offerings to include a body board.

 

*Surfboards*
Until you have tried to build one, it’s all too easy to make light of the process.  The talent and hard work that goes into building a great riding board is truly phenomenal.  I think they are one of the best values of our time – surfboards are truly functional art with a mix of science.  Some of them are so beautiful it is almost a shame to put them in the water, but the sensation of riding one always trumps the desire to hang it on the wall.  Some of the older boards are really valuable now, so you might want to think about that old board in the barn next time you go out there.  I wasn’t sure when Clark foam closed down what was going to happen, but true to form something always comes along to fill in the void.  Aren’t we glad that it all worked out?   Some of the new materials are lighter and stronger and truly creative – like coconut fiber.  Who would have ever thought they would find a way to use discarded coconut trash to make surfboards?   Check out this beautiful board by New Surf Project.

 

Epoxy, carbon fiber, special composites, EPS foam – the list goes on and on.   The kids growing up now are really going to have fun building the next surf riding vehicles.  I’m still fascinated by the mini Simmons design and really loved this one by Christenson Surfboards called the Ocean Racer. \

 

A lot of other makers seem to be fascinated by the mini Simmons as well – everyone has a different take on what works, and it is always interesting to see other peoples versions.   Thanks Richard Kenvin and Joe Bauguess for reintroducing some of Bob Simmons ideas.

When it comes to making a surfboard, it seems that there is nothing new under the sun, but a few subtleties are what can turn a good board into a great one.  The mind set that says something has to be a certain way is pushed out of the way when the proof of concept has reached main stream.   Meyerhoffer has created just such a board – it challenges our ideas of what is “cool”.

If you want a classic that is a true work of art, built by hand, that also works in the surf, there are lot of artist-builders out there and these boards are a great value.  You can’t surf on a painting, but some of these handmade surfboards are just as beautiful in form but have more than one function.  Here is a short list of truly functional and beautiful board builders:  Cooper Fish, Daniels Longboards, Divinity Surfboards, Cambium Surfboards.

Bic has always been one of my faves from a value point of view, and I had the pleasure of meeting Gérard Dabbadie, one of my heroes since my first experience with his classic long board design.  Bic has a new Superfrog longboard series which has traditional shapes along with some more modern ideas.  The boards I looked at were all shaped by Gérard.  The 9′ has a more classic overall style combined with chined rails that give the board excellent glide and an easy ride.  The Superfrog is made with a new light weight Epoxy/fiberglass laminated to a polystyrene core.

No matter how good your wax job is, it melts and moves and is inconsistent.  This stuff by Versa Traction does not, and acts like suction for your feet when wet.  It is being used by Sunny Garcia, and that’s a pretty good testimony if you ask me!
*SUP*
SUP’s abound, and we can’t find much to dislike about ‘em!   Florida is a great place for Stand Up Paddleboards as there are lakes, rivers, streams, and waterways of all types – not to mention our 700 miles of beach, it doesn’t get any better than that.

This year, we got to visit with Jim Hayes of Tropical Blend – we haven’t seen him in a while, but talk about works of art that you can surf on!  Tropical Blend boards are beautiful and functional.

SUPs are lighter than a canoe or kayak; they don’t create as much drag when strapped to your car roof as a canoe or kayak, and they can go lots of places that boats cannot.  There are several models coming out now that are stable enough to fish off of – and even offer removable seating!  Next time you feel like exploring strap on an ice chest so you’ll have a place to sit, grab that fly rod and go for it!  You can sneak up on that elusive red fish that got away last time.

Bote is the name, Fish/Paddle/Surf is the game. Made right here in Florida, they have SUPs all set up ready for your next fishing or surf trip. Wax it up and head out to the surf – you’ll feel like a little kid again.

For another take on the all in one Fish/Paddle/Surf top board, check out another Florida company – SIK Boardz!   They call their board the next generation of SUP – it’s made of carbon fiber/fiberglass and supports up to 360 lbs. while weighing only 42 lbs. and comes with a removeable seat – incredibly stable, as you can see by watching the videos on their site.  For the fisherman, you can optionally add four pole holders.

*Skate boards*
SUP on a skateboard – that is just one the newest ways to get a good workout and have fun while doing it.  It also simulates what standup paddle boarding is all about.  We talked to the guys with Skatn Skateboards and they showed us their boards and street paddles made right here in Florida.  Skatn Street Paddling is the newest sport to hit the streets of South Beach, Florida and quickly moving throughout the states.  You no longer need water to know what’s SUP, you have the classic sport of skateboarding with its multiple forms from half pipes to downhill races and they have added a stand-up paddle to offer speed, stability, and a core workout.  From the experienced skater to beginners of all ages, everyone can find a use for the street paddle.

 

*Skim Boards*

Wave Zone Skimboards were at SE2012, highlighting their products hand crafted in the USA – Tony is shown below playing a game to try to win a board:

*Other Stuff*
Keep that eye protection on.  Mountain bikers, kayakers, snow boarders and skiers – anything you do outside where you move and want to keep your glasses or sunglasses on your face, Cablz will do the job with a minimum of fuss.  I like things that are simple and functional and Cablz are both.  But Cablz are also sophisticated:  behind the part that attaches to your glasses there is a ball bearing swivel. That swivel allows the single strand metal cable to coil up so they can stay with your glasses when you put them in a case. So if you jog, bike, stand up paddle or anything else, you need to check them out.  We all need to protect the investment we have in our eyes.

Even though we’re in Florida, we like rash guards!  Having had some small skin cancers removed, and also having had some unseasonably cool water in the past few years, we like to protect our skin.  That being said, we were impressed by the KoreDry shirts and rash guards made by Victory.   They look comfy and practical!

We first met Christina of ZEMGear back in 2010, and it looks like her collection of Zembooties have really taken off.  From cyclists to barefoot runners, water sports to beach volleyball ZemGear has got you covered for whatever your sport or need!

 

Croakies have long been known for their eyewear retainers, but did you know they make belts as well?  Nice, soft, sturdy webbed belts in a myriad of colors.

 

As anybody who has gotten their cell phone wet knows the frustration (and if you’re an outdoor person, the risk) of damaging your expensive device is great.   Meet the driSuit endurance protective case for the iPhone 4 and 4S.  Allowing for all iPhone functions underwater, in any type of weather, driSuit is ready to protect your investment through any of life’s expected wet situations.  The really big deal here is that the case is not much bigger than the phone – it will still fit in your pocket.  It also has an integrated headphone jack design that allows for easy underwater listening, completely waterproof, and allowing all audio functions while plugged in.  The waterproof capacitive touch screen allows use of any function or application below the surface that one uses above the surface.  driSuit has a hard exterior and soft interior so that your iPhone 4 or 4S as well as a credit card inside the back panel are all protected.

 

*Racks*
SeaSucker Vacuum-mount Racks – If you have a vehicle without racks to carry your equipment and want racks but don’t want to screw up the lines of your car or don’t want something permanent, these are just the ticket.  On and off in seconds, super strong, reliable and very well made, SeaSucker Vacuum-mount are the best we’ve seen for removeable racks!

 

Thule has been around for a long time.  They are tough, reliable and ready to get stuff wherever you want to take it.  They have a surfboard rack that locks and will carry two boards to the beach.  Your surfboards are secure and they’re positioned so that they don’t stick to each other. I prefer to carry people on the inside, toys on the outside – I just want them to be secure so that I can go into a store or a restaurant without worrying about my toys being taken!

*Global Awareness/Responsibility*

One aspect that we always enjoy when checking out SurfExpo are the companies and organizations that have a mission to help others.  This “servant’s heart” aspect really appeals to Kay.   Ojos Eyewear is one such company – for every pair of eyewear sold, they will make and give away a pair of optical frames to someone in need of quality eyecare and vision around the world.  It’s a great idea and cause, and Surfindaddy caught a rare picture of Kay wearing a pair of their sunglasses (with Ojos founder Tyler Reynolds and Patrick Attwater).

Another very worthy organization we met was the Ride Nature folks.  They’re all about bringing board sports & truth to children living in poverty.  Their site is beautifully set up, and they have lots of ways that people from all walks of life can get involved.  At Surf Expo, artists were painting a mural on skateboard decks to help bring attention to their cause.

 

*Fun Stuff*

As always, there are some vendors that have a very broad appeal – not necessarily related to the surf or water sports industries, but fun nevertheless!  One of these that we thought was a cool idea (having teen daughters) was the Tat Spray temporary tattoo.  Tat Spray comes in four non-toxic colors with stencil packs to make it easy – although if you’re creative, you can certainly do your own designs.  The inks are spray based and generally will last 3-5 days before wearing off, but can be removed with soap and water.  What a fun idea for parties, the beach, or special occasions – no pain, and temporary to boot!

We checked out a fat tire bike, while at the expo this year –   I took a ride on one and really enjoyed it.  Living out in the country, MTB bikes were the only way to go until now.  Fat Sand Bikes are extremely comfortable and stable on all types of surfaces, can adapt to virtually any terrain.  Their pricing is very competitive, and they use top quality components.  They also have frames that will grow with your child from 12″ wheels to 16″, to 20″ – all fitting the same frame!  In addition, they sell an EZ attach beach cart which will carry your surfboard(s), ice chest, etc.

 

A unique sandal design was another fun find – this one by Smart Flip (although they seem to be still under construction).  Smart flip is a sandal that consists of different pieces – an EVA foam base in multiple colors, a sole insert which also comes in many colors, and strap sets which come in many colors as well – the straps can be configured on the base in several different ways to suit the wearer.  They also sell “roll up” flipflops that come in a tube – colorful and fun.

And speaking of footwear, how about “the next generation of shoe infatuation” Zipz Shoes!  These shoes have a top that zips off and is replaceable with many different styles and patterns.  From high tops and lace ups, velcro, slip ons – it’s your choice.

 

For your beach kit in the car, the Sand-off mitt is a must-have!  This mitt includes an all-natural powder blend to effectively remove sand without water.

For foot comfort for those with foot problems, look no further than Spenco Medical.  At the heart of every Spenco RX® Product is a unique SpenCore™ Layer – Spenco’s patented cushion layer that absorbs shock, reduces friction and improves overall foot comfort. Unconditionally guaranteed for one full year.  Yes, I took that info direct from their advertising – but as someone who has suffered in the past from plantar fasciitis, I must say I’ve been wearing a pair that was given to me at the show and they really are great!

Got aches and pains from your day outdoors?  Check out Buchu – it’s an herbal remedy full of healthy antioxidants as well as vitamins A, B & E – it’s billed as Nature’s first anti-inflammatory.

And yet another type of protective soft footwear:  Sockwa.  The fellas in this booth showed us a pair they’ve been wearing for two years that showed almost no wear on the sole.  Easy, washable, Sockwa is affordable and comfortable footwear for barefoot enthusiasts!

So, that’s it for our 2012 wrap up – below are a few more photos from the day: