2011 Surf Expo Orlando Convention Center
This year the Surf Expo at the Orlando Convention Center was more of a learning experience for us than anything else but it was still great fun. We learned a great many things that will take your love of the ocean too the next level. All along it has been our intent to showcase up and coming products and the people who created them along with small businesses whose products add to the fun of it all. Because of that and due to our economy this year, I think it’s about who’s coming up with the best value for our dollar and how we can best spend our free time and get the most out of it for our money. Innovation is the key word here and the expo was full of innovative ideas, and great people, so lets get started.
Boogie boards – To our way of thinking, there is only one place to go if you are a Pro Bodyboarder or are just getting into it for the first time; Wave Skater Pro Bodyboards have refined everything this year and have a system that uses hydrodynamic principles to make the board faster on a plane. It uses every trick in the science book to make the board just work right in the water.
So if you want to do floaters, 360’s or do some aerials, the right equipment just makes it easer to win (or learn). Bodyboarding is the cheapest and most fun you can have on a wave and Wave Skater Pro Bodyboards gives you the most bang for the buck with out the need to upgrade later after you’ve learned. In addition to tightening up their manufacturing process, they can now do custom colors.
The Wave Skater Bodyboards are built to last and are a great choice if you rent equipment on the beach are you just want something that will hold up to some heavy pounding. Please check out their site here!
Surfboards – This year there so many craftsmen creating beautiful boards it is always a joy to see what they come up with and I had a chance to meet Mike LaVecchia of Grain Surfboards.
Mike combined his love of board sports with a passion for traditional wooden boat-building techniques to create works of art for riding waves. Brad Anderson joined as co-owner shortly after and, with a little help from his friends, Grain has grown into a surfboard manufacturer known for innovative techniques, classic designs and ground-breaking products.
We attended Surf Expo this year on the final day of the show; we didn’t get a chance to talk with many board manufacturers this time, but as you can see from the photos below, color ala the 1980’s is back with a vengeance – we even noticed more color on some of the wetsuits – not the fluorescents of the eighties yet, but it will be interesting to see what the next couple years bring!
Moving on to another new entry at Surf Expo, WaveJet is a patented Personal Water Propulsion (PWP) engine designed for use in a range of personal watercraft, including surfboards, SUPs, kayaks, kiteboards, rescue boards and light boats.
Powered by an integrated twin-lithium ion battery pack, WaveJet is capable of 20 pounds of thrust, has a continuous run-time of over 30 minutes, and recharges in a standard wall socket.
Two to three times faster than paddling a surfboard, WaveJet is safe, quiet and light, and can even be used in shallow water where paddles and oars are ineffective and outboards can’t be used at all. You just have to check out the movie on their website.
Stand Up Paddle boards – I see more and more people getting into standup paddle boards, and with good reason. If you fish, are concerned about your health, the earth, or just love to explore in areas where you’ve never been; if you want to strengthen your body or ever wanted to learn how to surf, stand up paddle boards do it all. They don’t require fuel, are light weight, do not cost a great deal, have a very low environmental impact and are just plain fun. You owe it to yourself to check one out. It doesn’t matter if you are 7 are 70, just do it. There were a lot of major manufacturers of SUP boards at the Expo this year. Here are links to what we liked. www.bicsport.com www.suptechusa.com and www.surftech.com
Skate Boards As transportation for school or just for fun, we thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Kurt Hurley at Dregs Skateboards. They’ve got some really great designs and feature soy based wheels called “Love yo mutha” – pretty rad stuff!
If you want a little power to keep you going, take a look at the e-Moto electric vehicles – we thought the offroad em70 pictured in the foreground below would be perfect for our dirt road, LOL!
New and really cool for cruising or transportation – kick once and pump the rest of the time – it’s called an Onda board. Onda means “wave” in Portugese & Italian. You really need to see this board role to appreciate it.
Island Shade Shack had a site setup – we didn’t get the chance to talk with them, but their product looks pretty good!
But speaking of shade, whether you like to have your beach umbrella at the beach or you need a good holder for your surfcaster when you’re fishing at the shore,
Mikes Spikes has to be just about the best sand anchor we’ve EVER seen. Mike gave us a demo, and we were really just “wow-ed”. His product is phenomenal, the pricing is very affordable, and you’ll love it that you never have to deal with those cheesy screw type anchors again.
Hyperflex Wetsuits – This Company is not as well known as some of the other companies out there, but they should be! They’re great, well made, with a lot of innovative ideas. They are 3-4 mm wetsuits, stretch like a 2mm which means a lot to those of us trying to paddle a board in cold Florida waters that aren’t used to wearing one. I like being comfortable when I surf and don’t think you can do better for your money. Check out the Amp Surf Series.
Hides “Multifunction Eyewear Necessities” had a booth and provided us with samples – of their product. Tony didn’t try his out until he got home, but he’s worn the Classic 3-in-1 (retainer, case and cleaner) non-stop since he got home with it! He says the greatest thing is that he often would take his glasses off and lay them down on the desk at work when working on his computer, and the glasses would always end up on the lenses getting scratched. Since he started using the Hides retainer, most of the time they stay around his neck, but when he does want to take them off, the case that wraps around the glasses protects them, plus he’s always got the eyeglass cleaner attached. Wearing glasses has never been easier!
Be You Fashion was at the Expo with their gorgeous wide brimmed hats hand made of raffia by “women and artisans” of Madagascar. According to their website, their products are eco-friendly and help the people of Madagascar in many ways; their hats are absolutely gorgeous as you can see below; it appears their website is designed for wholesalers only, but a quick search shows their products can be found online here. Kay may just have to acquire one of these for the summer – the brims are so nice and wide and very malleable as well!
While we’re talking about fashion, Nomad Footwear was also there with a beautiful selection of footwear – we loved the mudboots made in the cowboy style – they have a whole lotta panache!
Another cool accessory shop that we saw was LYF (love you forever) who make and sell some of the coolest military tough backpacks EVER.
Gibbon Slacklines had a great display setup for folks to try out – what a cool way to spend your time when the surf is flat! Slacklining is an emerging sport that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy. What is it? It’s the act of balancing along a narrow, flexible piece of webbing usually pretty low to the ground. The webbing is like the material truckers use to tie down their loads – they can be set up almost anywhere and ratcheted so they tight enough to allow you to use ’em like a balance beam. It’s a great core exercise and a great way to maintain balance for surfing. The picture below doesn’t do ’em justice, go take a look at their site!
We met a young lady with Keepers of the Coast, which is an organization that is working together to ensure that the beaches of NE Florida will remain beautiful and safe for future generations. Note the big jar of cigarette butts collected from our beaches on the right hand side of the image!
Speaking of community service, we also enjoyed meeting the folks with the Mellow Militia and Surfers Healing (A Foundation for Autism). They’ve partnered together and Mellow Militia sells a cool Bamboo Tiki Toss game off their site; and they’ve got a great 3D Hook & Ring game at the iTunes store for your iPhone!
We found a bunch of solutions to keep your cell phone and electronics gadgets dry, from the relatively simple LokSak which comes in a variety of sizes and styles including some which have an odor proof barrier (great for camping) and even data protection in the form of a shieldsak!
Next are our old friends at Witz Products – Tony always has to stop by and say hello as he has used one of their “wet wallets” for years in place of a traditional wallet. It hold his various cards and a few dollars very nicely and it’s actually made it through the wash a few times – and everything stayed dry! They’ve got a myriad of different sizes and types too – and they last for a very long time – Tony’s on his second one I think, but that’s over a period of about 8 years – with every day use.
But as far as device specific things go, this is one of the coolest products we saw – the Aqua Box which is intended for the iPhone, Blackberry, or other touchscreen type phone. This one actually has a replaceable silicone membrane and it works perfectly with our iPhones, all features available – the phone can be put in so that the top of the phone is near the latch assembly or at the other end, and the camera works either way. It comes with a floating lanyard, so it will be great for all kinds of applications where your phone may be exposed to water and sand!
Next we checked out the stainless containers at Hydro Flask. I’ll let Tony tell you how impressed he was in his own words: “ The way I see it, a beverage flask or water bottle should keep hot things hot and cold things cold so when I saw the Hydro Flask I was curious — would it? There were three bottles on the counter filled with ice. They had been showing the ice to people for three days. One was from Thursday one from Friday and one from that last day of the show. Thursdays still had ice and water in it, Fridays was about 60% ice and water and Saturdays was full of ice with a tiny amount of water in the bottom at was around 4:00 in the afternoon. I was impressed — this is not your average water bottle. This company also makes containers for foods that will do the same thing. The water bottles have mouths large enough to get ice into and they make a filtering system that fits inside the bottle to purify water. If you like to hike and camp and want a way to keep from getting sick, you need this filtering water bottle. If you’re like me, have a family and like to go hiking or on day trip but want to take your own food you just have to check Hydro Flask out. Hydrate Your Life!”
Contour HD Hands Free Camera – Keeping the memory just got a whole lot easer want to share what you did or keep it as a memory ContourGPS is the answer. Add an entire new layer to your storytelling or your scientific investigation or your Surfing exploits. These video cameras have a built-in GPS receiver that tracks your location, speed, and altitude while also recording the event in beautiful hands free High Definition video. They also have waterproof cases available. You have to check this device out. Get out there and tell a story.
And last, but not least, we met the guys at TMC Surf Brand who were just hangin’ and sharing their Tees with folks. These guys are super nice, look ’em up!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at surf expo!
Tony & Kay