North American distributor Dray Murray caught up with Ben Wilson and Karl Vannerem to get the inside scoop on BWSurf’s new board technology, construction and development of their latest Stallion board.
BWSurf has a history of not conforming to the norm in the kiteboard market. Up until now you have been making PU surf/kiteboard hybrids. What is new? Why the change?
We always have been and still are non-negotiable on performance and feel. We will not sacrifice either for extra durability, so until now we’ve believed that the best kiteboards were made with from PU foam. Now there’s finally the technology and materials that offer both amazing performance and durability so we’re still not sacrificing one for the other, we’re just having our cake and eating it too. It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here and we’re really excited.
What is the problem that you are solving here?
We are aiming for the flex and feel of a PU surfboard and the durability of a kiteboard. Key performance factors are strength, weight, buoyancy, flex and recoil. It’s been hard to find just the right combination of these factors to make a board that has the durability need for kiting but still has the performance of a surfboard. The problem that we have seen with most mass-produced surfboards and kite surfboards in general, is that they’re built with materials that make them strong but don’t provide the flex or feel of a real surfboard. They use hyper buoyant foam that makes the boards ride on top of the water which makes them chattery, and when turning they turn on top of the water so they can’t hold a rail as well. No matter what level you’re at, in kitesurfing, we are all dealing with very bumpy, textured water so having a board that doesn’t have flex and is too buoyant is a lot harder on your body, a lot less enjoyable and makes it harder to perform critical moves.
What is unique about your new construction?
We have found a new technology that allows us to use lightweight and responsive XPS foam, extremely durable Hexcore patches and tinted resin to color the boards. Historically XPS has been notoriously hard to laminate, but we have found a new fusion skin technology makes it possible! We actually fuse the XPS core to the fiberglass which makes our boards really strong with a very responsive flex pattern. Adding to that, XPS much less bouyant than EPS allowing the boards to ride lower in the water more like PU boards. XPS is also closed foam which also makes it completely waterproof! So no worries when you ding the board, you can just keep on kiting and fix it later.
Additionally we have added strategically placed HEXCORE patches to reinforce the deck under your feet. These patches are made from a super high strength PET honeycomb foam that is incredibly light and strong. With this combination of materials we have created a dent resistant deck while still allowing the board to flex and perform like a traditional surfboard.
The color on our boards is an industry first as well. The color comes from tint in the resin itself. BWS boards are transparent so you can see directly into our boards as we have nothing to hide. The tinted resin will also will never rub off or fade.
How has this process enabled you to make a next gen kiteboard?
After alining the right tech to make our dream of a light, strong, responsive board possible. We had to source out the right partner to make the boards. We knew that the traditional manufacturing channels in China were not able to consistently produce the quality that we were looking for so we broadened our search until we found Apple Tree in Holland. At Apple Tree they able to make our boards to an incredibly high degree of precision and they also have a zero waste manufacturing facility. So all our resign, foam and materials get recycled and used in other products.
Taking the whole process one step further, we have been able to make the boards Eco Board Project certified. By recycling all materials used, putting scrubbers on all exhaust vents and using non toxic resins, we have been able to make boards with very little waste. You will see this when you get a board; we are reusing the XPS foam that we cut the boards out of as packaging material to ensures that every board arrives in perfect condition. The Eco Board Project also plants mangroves for every board made to offset carbon emissions used in transporting the boards.
We are really excited about the new range. Our new boards not only meet our high performance standards, but are also environmentally sustainable.
What’s the story behind the Stallion?
There were a few factors as to why we started. Namely our team riders who like to ride really hard were destroying our PU boards. We as kiters like to travel so our previous plan to make traveling with boards easier was to make boards that were for both kite and surf. We also were seeing the market move towards shorter boards that are easier to travel with.
There has been a lot of hype around the Tomo style boards, and we have seen them gaining momentum in the kitesurfing market and getting really good feedback. But we saw a gap in the market due to the construction of these boards. The only options available on the market were EPS popouts which don’t recoil when flexed so they provide a very dampened feel because they absorb the energy from a turn and then and do not respond in kind.
So we organized a trip with Ian Alldredge and Dano See to the Philippines and brought a bunch of boards they really liked and sold well in the market. This trip is where the inspiration was born and what we saw lacking in the industry was dedicated ‘kite’surfing boards. Not for cross over, not for surfing, just powered up lip smacking with a kite!
Who shaped the Stallion?
Dano See, who is also our chief kite designer.
What kind of wave was it tested in/developed for?
The Stallion was designed for everyday conditions. Most people are not riding Mauritius, or Cloud Break, so we wanted our first board to be something with broad appeal to kiters all over the world in all kinds of conditions. With that as a barometer, we tested it in a wide variety of locations and conditions, from strong wind and small chop in Europe, peeling slabs in the Philippines, to knee to overhead conditions in the US. The Stallion’s shape proved to be a great all-around performance board, with fast and controllable drive; Quick to plane and easy to control at speed.
Did you have any interesting discoveries during development?
Development is all about discoveries, some are great others that you expect to be great can be disappointing. We found that the new core fusion tec also allowed us to put deeper and more aggressive channeling into the bottom of the board. Traditionally this much channeling would weaken the board, make it prone to delamination or was just way to labor intensive to use. The deep channels is one of the secrets that allows the Stallion to pick up speed so quickly and funnel the water towards the fins so that you can ride smaller fins and still have grip and performance needed at speed.
Did you have any roadblocks/obstacles that ended up moving the project in a different direction?
After designing the board, the biggest road block was finding the right manufacturing partner who would execute our design, blend strength, weight, flex to deliver the board with the perfomance that we wanted to bring to the market. Our current surfboard shapers could not handle the job, we knew that we needed to stay out of China, and we were stumped until we found some hungry young shapers dabbling in new tech in Holland who were able to handle our design. We helped them expand their facility and they have been able to deliver boards that meet our strict standards. Partnering with them also allowed us get the Eco Board Project Certification.
How did designing the Eco Board Project specifications effect development?
Apple Tree has the set up for it, its really just a few key steps that make such a difference. They cut the shapes out of the blanks so as not to turn the rest of the blank into dust and it also allows us to reuse the rest of the blank to package our boards for shipment.
We have always been keen to search for more eco-friendly materials, and when we tested them we found out that it was not only better for the environment but also added to more strength and durability. Win-win-win!
What’s next from BWS?
We have rereleased our best selling board of all time, the Drifter, in our new construction and we have two more boards coming out soon as well. Ben’s new diamond tail DHD model and the Stallion Overhead will be perfect for those who want to charge bigger steeper waves.
See what Tkb and our testers had the chance to test out the Stallion V2 during our 2018 Freeride Test. Read the review here: https://www.thekiteboarder.com/2018/03/tkb-review-2018-bwsurf-stallion-v2/