Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Forward Thinking Designs of T.Meyerhoffer

"What in the hell is that thing?"
It would be easy to instantly dismiss these funny looking surfboards as design gimmiks, just another theory being thrown at the wall to see what sticks in an ever expanding world of surfboard design and manufacture.
Until you find out that this design has come straight out of the fertile creative mind of Californian surfer Thomas Meyerhoffer, who used to be a designer at Apple. Now it's worth a double take no? This guy was on the team that crafted the original iMac, so despite it's wierd looks you know that there are reasons behind its shape that go beyond interesting aesthetics.
In the words of Justin Cote from Transworld Surf:

“I didn’t even want to paddle it out, but when I did and finally caught a wave, the thing actually ripped. I wanted it to suck so bad, but it turned right off the bottom, sped down the line, carved right into a cutback, and basically did everything I commanded—I was shocked. This board was not supposed to work. So why does it?”
Transworld Surf, October 2010.

These boards seem to be the most comprehensive marriage of short and longboard designs yet, with a shortboard shape incorporated into the tail of the board bringing the widepoint further back to enable sharper turns. All of the unnecessary volume and weight of foam is removed from the front rail line (because lets face it all that rail just drags and slows you down) leaving a standard longboard nose area to walk up and perch on. It's a similar theory to slalom skis, and I imagine that it can't have a negative effect on the flex characteristics of the board through turns either.
Digging a little deeper reveals a whole host of design elements aimed at producing faster, smoother longboards that behave more like shortboards: features such as a convex bottom through the mid section to enable smoother rail to rail transitions flowing through to spiral vee double concaves through the fins, and a drawn out tail to balance the nose and hold in through turns.
Regardless of all of these technical details though, there's living proof below that they work, as demonstrated by Matt Martin at Bells, Australia (photo by Steve Ryan) showing a Meyerhoffer longboard coming nicely off the bottom and even getting jammed nicely in a tube.
Who knows, perhaps Thomas is on to something and we'll see more trimmed down and refined longboards coming through, looking to the future rather than taking inspiration from the past as is so often the case with longboard design. It's nice to balance it all out, and it's even nicer when a design so left of field works out and really breaks the mould. It reminds me of a favourite quote of mine by Sir Ken Robinson, who said "If you're not prepared to fail then you'll never come up with anything truly original".
These boards are something truly original.

Check the website here, or read an interview here.

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