Tkb caught up with Duotone’s surfboard shaper, Sky Solbach, at Duotone’s International Dealer Meeting in Tarifa to talk about the all-new Pro Voke.
What was your inspiration for shaping the Pro Voke?
This board was inspired by the stuff that our team riders are doing now and the way that they want to ride which is fast and powered. Airton is doing wakestyle tricks and unloaded handlepasses on this board. So his original idea that he came to me with was that he wanted to have a surfboard that performed like a wakeboard. He wanted the rail of a surfboard but a board that had the landings of a wakeboard. He was looking at some of our twin tips and looking at the bottom channels and was like “Hey, can we do a board that’s like a surfboard but works where I can land it super hard like a wakeboard? I see the wakestyle guys landing super hard and I want to be able to do that.”
What was the R&D process behind this board?
The R&D process was pretty much Airton coming to me with the idea for the board and that was like 2 years ago. I went home and made a prototype, well I think I made two boards, a 5’0″ and a 5’2″ and they both had slightly different bottom channels. I tested them and thought they had potential and then Airton came to Maui a few months later and tried them; he ended up taking one on the road with him and he used it for like 6 months. At that point he knew that he wanted to make a few changes to it. I think we made like 2 or 3 more prototypes. So we kind of had it, the design was actually ready about a year ago but we weren’t sure there was really a market for it yet but now with the Strapless Freestyle Tour we felt like it was a good time to release it; we already had the shape so we just went for it.
Can you talk us through some of the design features of the Pro Voke?
Basically its just a really straight parallel outline with a really flat, fast rocker. It’s got a lot of speed and it’s really stable through the chop. It’s got a lot of edge grip and a really good pop for the tricks that they’re doing and their style of riding (Airton and Matchu), so flat, fast and straight.
Strapless airs are all about fighting gravity. Besides weight, what other design features make the Pro Voke ideal for strapless tricks?
It’s got a pretty symmetrical nose and tail especially for a lot of the spin tricks they’re doing. They want it to spin symmetrically so the problem they have with the traditional surfboards is that it tries to spin and the tail or the nose drops, but this board spins a lot nicer around the center axis. It’s good for spin tricks.
What do you think about concave/convex deck style and how does that relate to strapless freestyle?
The Pro Voke has really similar deck shape to what we use on all of our surfboards. It’s kind of got a dugout area in the heal so that gives you really good leverage over the board. It kind of gets your heel closer to the water and gives you a good sense of control and that deck shape also creates a little grab rail so for all of the grab tricks they’re doing it’s really easy to keep the board in your hand.
What fins do the board come with?
Carbon 30 fins (carbon compound) come with the Pro Voke and the classic boards and all of the Pro boards come with hand-foiled glass fins.
Do fins matter for strapless freestyle?
I was just talking to Matchu and he was telling me how much he loves these fins (Carbon 30), because of how lightweight they are. So especially for his spin tricks, it makes a big difference having lighter fins so the tail is not too heavy.
In terms of landing, do the guys on tour like soft or stiff fins?
I’m not sure what they’re thoughts are on the stiffness but from my personal experience surfing with these fins I’ve really been liking them. At first glance, they look like a plastic fin which is very low performance and they lose all the energy when you do a bottom turn, but these (with the Carbon 30 material) actually feel really similar to glass fins.
Are these fins made with the same material that Duotone makes foils out of?
Exactly, its mold injected and they’ve got a lot of carbon content in them.
What was your biggest challenge in designing this board?
I guess just dialing in the bottom shape was the big thing. The Pro Voke was kind of loosely based on the Whip from three years ago which was a type of tomo-esk style board we did. I knew the changes I wanted to make which was flatten the rocker out to make it faster and then I obviously added the channel. The main thing on this board was developing the channel shape because that’s really what Airton was focused on. He needed something that would land and split the water and not bounce out on his landings so I guess the bottom channel was the biggest challenge and then just working on the rocker and the outline to make it as fast as possible.
What are you most excited about for 2019 be it the brand itself or the product line?
I think everything. I think it’s cool, it’s an exciting new beginning; the launch of something new. I’m always excited about the product we’re developing. To be honest, in terms of product development, we worked the same this year as we do every year. For us it didn’t matter what logo was going on it, we put in the same work we always do in improving things that need to be improved, but I’m excited about the brand launch and I think it’s going to be the beginning of a really great era.
For more info on the Pro Voke check out: https://www.duotonesports.com/kiteboarding/boards/surfboards/pro-voke-csc/