Mow Foam: Santa Cruz Surfboards

Mow Foam: Santa Cruz Surfboards
An interview with Doug Haut,
Matt Haut, and Shawn Barron.

Guess what? Something new has emerged for surfboards. A lightweight epoxy composite material used in the production of windsurfboards is now being used to make surfboards. Here’s the beauty of it: These boards are pressed together-they’re made using similar techniques as making a snowboard. Sound good to you? You bet it does.Up until recently, no surfboard company has stepped up to revel in this new-age technology. That’s why it took a company like NHS, Inc. (makers of Santa Cruz skateboards and snowboards) to begin production of these fine products. Most major surfboard manufacturers are so stuck in their old ways, sometimes it takes a company like Santa Cruz with a different kind of mentality to pave the way for the future of surfing.In the late 60s, the founders of NHS, Inc. (Rich Novak, Doug Haut, and Jay Sherman) originally started making surfboards. Doug was the only shaper and his brother Dan Haut glassed the boards. Rich sanded the boards and Jay was the sales manager. They all took part in leading the development of surfboards in Santa Cruz, as well as opening Santa Cruz Surf Shop back in 1969. Then in the early 70s, they formed NHS, Inc. and slowly capitalized on their skateboard and snowboard production over the past 27 years or so.Now it’s time to for them to get back where they started. Surfing spawned skateboarding and snowboarding, so now Santa Cruz feels it’s time to take the knowledge gained from these sports and integrate it back into surfing and surfboard technology. The following’s an interview with Santa Cruz Surfboards shaper, Doug Haut, its surf-product-line manager, Matt Haut, and their newest teamrider, Shawn “Barney” Barron. Read on and exalt your new tech.-A.S.

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How long have you been shaping with this technology?

Doug Haut: I’ve been shaping with this technology for six years now. I started using this material with sailboards and then researched and developed this composite material to surfboards.

What are the boards made of?

Matt Haut: The boards are made with a core of E.P.S.-Expanded Polystyrene-or Styrofoam. The technology presses fiberglass and high-density foam PVC with expanding epoxy resin into a mold. What you get’s a hard outer shell and a soft, lightweight inner core called a composite or a “sandwich” board. The board’s strength comes from the outer shell, or “skin,” of the board.

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How are they made? Like a snowboard?M.H.: The boards are made almost the same way as a snowboard. The difference is the core. Most snowboards have a core of plastic or wood that’s pressed together with fiberglass and expanding epoxy or injected plastic in a two-part mold. The core’s different with a surfboard-you have a lighter core that’s less dense and offers flotation. When you press the PVC high-density sheet foam to the core EPS with fiberglass and expanding epoxy in a two-part mold, you create a board that’s lightweight and strong.

Who came up with this material/technology?D.H.: The aerospace industry and military came up with this technology. They wanted to come up with a strong, lightweight material they could use in aircraft and in boats. The sailboard industry took full advantage of this technology. They found it was much harder to break or dent an aircraft or boat when you use this type of construction.

This molded Tuflite trademark technology was developed by Randy French at Surf tech and has been around for eight years now. Santa Cruz is now putting this knowledge and Tuf lite technology into a surfboard.

H o w l o n g d o t h e y t a k e t o m a n u f a c t u r e ? M. H.: It takes about four to five days f r o m b l a n k t o f i n ish. These boards are made in a special factory that’s skilled in the use of this material.

Are they stronger than regular surfboards?M.H.: These boas are about five times stronger than a regular polyester competition glass job. This is the next evolution in the manufacturing of a surfboard. I see kids nowadays riding a regular polyester board for one month, and the deck’s crushed with dings all over it.You can ride an epoxy board and not have a ding or a delaminated deck for months at a time. You can leave these boards in direct sunlight and you don’t have to worry about having them fade or turn brittle. I’m glad we can bring this technology to regular and high-performance surfing.

How does this material differ from regular surfboards?D.H.: The only material that’s the same as epoxy and polyester is the fiberglass. Everything else is different, from the stringerless core to the epoxy resin and paint.

Do the boards have more flotation so you can ride a thinner board?D.H.: On the thinner, smaller boards you don’t really have a difference in flotation. It’s when you get into the longer and thicker boards-that’s when they achieve more flotation because the material is lighter, and it’ll feel like it’s a smaller board. These boards have a livelier feel to them because they’re so light and snappy.

How’s this technology going to affect the surfboard industry?D.H.: I don’t think it’s going to affect the surfboard industry because it’s a more of a specialty product. These boards are the alternative to a polyester surfboard. We just want to reproduce that magic board everyone wants to ride. The technology has finally caught up to the industry standard of surfboard design. Without regular manufacturing of surfboards, this industry and technology wouldn’t be here now.

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Will these boards be mass-produced?M.H.: We plan on mass-producing boards that were researched and designed by some of the world’s best shapers. Santa Cruz is working closely with our team to find that magic board they all can ride.

Who’s on the team for 2001?M.H.: Adam Replogle, a.k.a. “Rodent”-he’s also the team manager. Shawn Barron, a.k.a. “Barney”; Anthony Tashnick, a.k.a. “Tazi”; Jeremy Scribner, a.k.a. “Scribby”; Chris Gallagher, a.k.a. “Gally”; Charley Chesleigh, a.k.a. “Chez”; and Jeff Hutson, a.k.a. “Fluff.”

After years of making skateboards and snowboards, why did Santa Cruz start making surfboards?M.H.: I call it a full circle. Santa Cruz is a 27-year-old company that started out making surfboards in the 60s. Skateboarding originated from surfing, and now it’s giving innovation back out in the water.Kids are now taking their street and vert tricks from skateboarding and applying them in surfing. Santa Cruz wanted to make surfboards because now there’s this crossover influence between surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. These three board sports offer you the chance to do the same maneuvers over water, land, or snow. Santa Cruz has always had some interest in surfing but was waiting for the right time to enter the water when the technology was ready.

Does Santa Cruz plan on having surfboard pro models similar to your skateboard and snowboard pro-model-style graphics?M.H.: Yes, we do! We plan on having pro models that have rider-influenced graphics on them. For instance, Shawn “Barney” Barron is a great artist who’s always put illustrations on his boards, giving them a personal touch. We want to offer this to all our riders in their own models. Right now we’re working on an Adam Replogle “Rodent” model. Later, we plan on making more models to fill up our line.

Explain how the boards work for aerial surfing.Shawn Barron: I think it’ll improve this style of surfing because you don’t have to worry about breaking your board. It’s just the ultimate to have a board that can push your limits without having the consequence of damaging it. Also, it’s because the boards are lighter-that makes them more responsive to tweaking out your airs.

What’s next in board design with this new technology? M.H.: We have a lot of things up our sleeves. We’re working on different flex patterns so we can mimic the feel of a polyester board but still have the strength of an epoxy board. I want to work with different flex patters that’ll give you spring when you hit an air-it’ll pop you higher. This opens up a whole different level of surfing that Santa Cruz wants to push.

What do you guys think of T.S.I. Total Skate Influence in surfing?S.B.: There’s a huge skate influence in surfing today. Basically, surfing’s at a slower pace than skateboarding. Skateboarders are able to make up new maneuvers because they have the same surface to work with every time. Surfing’s a lot harder to find that same ramp to do your same trick. It’s pretty cool that surfing influenced the creation of skateboarding and now skateboarding is influencing surfing. I think it’s great that the guys who started NHS were surfers, and now they’re going back to surfing, which makes it very legitimate.

Where can you get one? How much do they cost?M.H.: You can get the boards at all the major surf shops or at NHS, Inc. direct. The boards will retail at not much more than a regular custom board. You can contact: Matt Haut/NHS, Inc.
Santa Cruz Surfboards
104 Bronson Street
Suite 9
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 459-7800 Ext. 67
or E-mail matth@nhs-inc.com

orking on different flex patterns so we can mimic the feel of a polyester board but still have the strength of an epoxy board. I want to work with different flex patters that’ll give you spring when you hit an air-it’ll pop you higher. This opens up a whole different level of surfing that Santa Cruz wants to push.

What do you guys think of T.S.I. Total Skate Influence in surfing?S.B.: There’s a huge skate influence in surfing today. Basically, surfing’s at a slower pace than skateboarding. Skateboarders are able to make up new maneuvers because they have the same surface to work with every time. Surfing’s a lot harder to find that same ramp to do your same trick. It’s pretty cool that surfing influenced the creation of skateboarding and now skateboarding is influencing surfing. I think it’s great that the guys who started NHS were surfers, and now they’re going back to surfing, which makes it very legitimate.

Where can you get one? How much do they cost?M.H.: You can get the boards at all the major surf shops or at NHS, Inc. direct. The boards will retail at not much more than a regular custom board. You can contact: Matt Haut/NHS, Inc.
Santa Cruz Surfboards
104 Bronson Street
Suite 9
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 459-7800 Ext. 67
or E-mail matth@nhs-inc.com