Surfindaddy (Tony) & Kay(cee) attended the 2008 Surf Expo held at the Orange County Convention Center. It’s a pretty awesome sight – there were about 1000 exhibitors in six categories: Surf, Skate, Resort, Boutique, Swim & Souvenir. Over 200 of those were new brands since last year.Surf Expo runs from Thursday – Sunday, and during that time there are lots of things going on. There’s just so much to see, lots of schmoozing between buyers and sellers, fashion shows, and Volcom sponsored Sk8 board contests.We stayed busy on Saturday – arriving just after the show opened at 9am and not leaving ’til just after 5pm. It was a great day – we enjoyed meeting lots of nice people, and seeing some great products which we’re happy to be able to share with you!If last year was all about THE FISHthen it seems (at least to us) as though this year was all about the Stand up Paddle Board.One of the first stops we made to talk about the Stand up Paddle board was at Tropical Blend Surf, and we enjoyed talking with Jim Hayes about his boards and particularly his paddle design. Jim told us that he almost didn’t come to Surf Expo this year – and living in Hawaii, who could blame him?! But he decided a week before that he’d pop on over.
Jim’s paddle design does not include a “curve” in the paddle, and they’re a very ergonomically and comfortably carved wood that has some flex. He did a great job of explaining the reasoning for this – but he explained it much better than we ever could, so if you’re interested, catch some video of his explanation here.
The paddles are beautiful and feel wonderful to hold.
As a photographer, I’ve noticed the Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUPB) becoming more mainstream on our coasts, so it was great to talk to some folks about these things. It just seemed that every direction we turned we saw booths with SUPB’s prominently displayed.
In addition to Stand up paddle boards, we also saw quite a few surf ski or kayak type wave riding vehicles – from some small and inexpensive kayak models suitable for children or adults (sold by Emsco Group, ESP Division)
to more radical waveski designs for the more experienced surf rider:
But the Fish are far from dead – our friends from last year’s Expo, 9Fish, have some new models out as well. The one that we thought the most intriguing was the “Puffer” fish (shown next to the Clown fish in the photo below).
The Puffer Fish is very cool – it’s made of epoxy, and is 4’11”. It’s designed as the ultimate hybrid board – because of it’s width and thickness it has as much float as a 6’9″ shortboard. Since it’s so short, it’s fantastic for knee-boarding and bodyboarding. Note the handholds!In addition to finished boards, we got a first-hand look at some of the new technologies coming out for surf board design. Two words: Parabolic Stringers.
Firewire was present with a cool display showing off their super lightweight boards with carbon fiber parabolic stringers. (You can actually see the shadow of the stringer illuminated in the photo on the left – it was really a cool display).
As I predicted a couple years ago, the closing of Clark Foam has lead to some new innovations in surfboard blank manufacturing, and we met the folks at Warvel Surf Cores who are marketing and
enjoying success with their WMD (Warvel Multi-Density Cores) blanks. These include an inner core of 1.5 PCF surrounded by basswood parabolic stringers and an outer surround of 5 PCF (high density foam for strength and flex). And, they’re made in the USA – what’s not to like!
Next on the new technology tour was
Green Room Board Co. showing off their Epoxy based resins systems. We met their in-house lab rat, Rob Whitehead, who has developed a resin system that creates maximum strength, minimum weight, and minimum discoloration. The resin was designed to chemically bond to their Aerialite cloth, creating an ultra-strong board.
A fascinating new development in applying art to surfboards was unveiled by the folks at Surf-Art Biz. Using an ultra thin traditional Japanese paper made from long plant fibers called “Washi”, they call this process Shahalaku. Designs are colorfast, runproof, protects the surfboard from UV damage, and because of the long interwoven fibers in this paper, it increases the strength of the board with virtually no additional weight.
Speaking of colorful boards, take a look at the Dewey Weber booth – so Tommy Bahama!
Moving on from Surfboards, some of the other products we found interesting are listed below:
Da Fin – A fantastic new design in safe, floating, flexible, maneuverable fins. These really aren’t your ordinary fins – you’ve gotta see all the features – check ’em out on the web!
FitFlops – They’re comfy, cushy, and as they’re supposed to help strengthen and tighten legs and rear end – well, that’s all for the better no matter who you are and what your age! They say these are designed to simulate walking in beach sand – they have a more flexible mid-section and more rigid toe and heel. I started wearing mine late in the day yesterday after walking about 3 miles (I know from my phone pedometer – and my feet were tired) and I regained the spring in my step.
Testimonials say they’re great for back pain, plantar fasciitis – probably the common cold as well, LOL!
Rugged Shark – Great shoe line for watermen – the one Tony is holding below has been used by Stand Up Paddle boarders – I’m guessing it would be good for lots of different water sports . . . Tony tried them on and found them to be very comfortable – and secure with velcro closure. I’m hoping the distributors for the Rugged Shark shoes will contact us as we’ve apparently misplaced their card and don’t know where to find them on the web.
Mad Bags – For the discriminating lady in your life who likes nice things made from some of the gems of nature – check out these shell bags! They’re great looking and come in many colors and styles!
NAOT – Naot shoes are a fantastic, good quality alternative to the standard beach “flip flops”. If you have foot problems (many of which are caused by poor footwear) Naot offers quality solutions.
Sand B Gone – A unique new product to use on skin to prevent sand from sticking! It comes in skin toned fine powders and for fun, some shimmery skin toned powders as well. We tried it, and it worked great!
Soleo Organics – New sunscreen uses a special form of “nanofine” zinc oxide which does not leave skin with a white film.
Rootsman Enterprises – Home of a fantastic herbal energy drink “Baba Roots”. We tried it, it was tasty, and man, it kept me going all day despite feeling like I was coming down with a cold yesterday morning when I woke up! Rootsman is also the distributor for Quashi Surfboards.
Cliphanger – If ya need a great way to hold your cell phone, ipod, mp3 player, etc. Cliphanger has got you covered. Their clips are made of lexan, can be hung from your belt loop, purse strap, backpack, etc. and come in lots of great colors.
Well, that about does me in for documenting our trip to Surf Expo 2008 – but hope you’ve enjoyed it and found some interesting new things to check out – to all the folks we met, thanks for sharing your thoughts and your products with us – we enjoyed the day very much!
Take a look at the pix below for more views of Surf Expo –