Makai Softboards: Beating The Black Ball

Makai Performance Softboards, a new board company specializing in soft surfboards, has the answer to summertime black-ball woes: the 4’11” Black Ball surfboard.

[IMAGE 1]The new sub-five-foot stick, made of closed-cell foam along with a coat of slick skin on the deck and bottom (think: bodyboard), will allow people to stand-up surf in spots that are marked for bodyboarders and swimmers in the summer because the boards are soft and under five feet (five feet is the maximum length allowed by lifeguards in black-balled zones).

In addition to the black-ball beater board, the company is offering a full line of boards geared for surf camps and novice surfers. Eight additional sizes (starting at 6’6″ and increasing by six-inch increments up to a ten-foot behemoth dubbed The Titanic) will be available, and a 6’0″ board for kids is in the works.

The softboards have features akin to fiberglass surfboards like rocker and wrapped rails, which are missing in typical foam softboards. The result: a softboard that offers some performance characteristics of a fiberglass surfboard, minus the hard shell and sharp fins.

Partner and close friend D.J. Farley says he’s still in disbelief when he saw a test pilot grab two barrels on one wave, capping it off with a floater. “You almost gotta have one just sitting in the trunk of your car at all times for the black ball zones or for fun,” says Farley.

In-Transit, a third party warehouse distribution company based in Oceanside, California will ship the boards out of their surfboard packing facility managed by Danny Hayward. According to Louis Hayward, Makai Surfboards partner and In-Transit president, the boards will be priced competitively with BZ and Doyle foam boards.

“We’re not trying to make a board that is really inexpensive,” says Hayward. “We’re trying to offer longer life spans on the boards and add some flavor to the softboard industry. We slick-skin the deck — which is a new concept — to not only give the boards a more technical look but for the following reasons: More rigid decks, the wax actually beads up when applied, traction pads will stick to the deck, and it allows us to add art to the boards similar to hot coat sprays on hard boards.

“We’re also offering more up-to-date shapes,” continues Hayward. “All of our boards have full rockers, we’ve rounded the rails a little more, and the templates are as close to a true shaped board as you can get when keeping safety in mind.”

To stir interest, Makai will let shops and industry types put the boards to the test next month during upcoming demo days scheduled in San Diego and Orange County. For more details, call (760) 967-8086.