Channel Chat.

Channel Chat.

The world of board design can be a tricky place. Something new and novel often comes along, pips peoples interest for a while, before being forgotten. Other times, the innovation is given the tick of approval, and becomes an industry standard.

The last few years have been characterised by increased attention and innovation in regard to the bottom contours and channel designs of boards.

Largely inspired by surfboard innovator Daniel Thompson and his “Modern Planning Hull” designs, these bottom contours aim to better direct and control the flow of water underneath the bodyboard, producing better control and speed.

In an effort to stay abreast of these developments, we spoke to four shapers / designers for there insights into the channel craze currently sweeping the bodyboard design world.

First up Nick Mesritz of NMD:

Where did the inspiration come from for the trinity concave and quad-channel setups that are now being run on the Dave Winchester and Ben Player boards?

NM:The inspiration for the Quad Concave came initially from Daniel “Tomo” Thompson’s Sci-Fi, which Stu Kennedy had used to great effect at the WSL event in Jan 2016. Of course a bodyboard is a completely different beast to a surfboard, so we had to do a fair bit of R & D before we came up with the final version.

The Trinity Concave was born from feedback we had been receiving about the Quad. Although they are fast and hold an edge more easily, they could be sticky and some crew were finding hard to release the rail on some moves like spins.

To free up the board we eventually settled on a combination of a single concave, running from rail to rail, with double concave running inside the PFS beams.

“A board I had shaped in NZ back in ‘99 was the starting point and from their we incorporated several aspects from both surfboard and wakeboard hull design. 

— MEZ

Can you give us a little of the design theory behind both designs?

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The Quad:

With hull design I always consider a bodyboard as two halves split directly down the middle of the board, lengthways. Aside from spins where you tend to lay the board flat, generally only one half of the board is engaged in the wave.

With this in mind the Quad is designed to direct water flow up and through two large channels. The high volume of water flowing through the channels enables the board to hold a higher line on the wave face and from here you can generate more speed out as you drive down into your bottom turns.

The outside channel has a wide entry tapering to a narrow exit, this in-turn causes the velocity of the water flowing through the channel to increase, giving the board lift. 

The Trinity:

The single rail to rail concave on the Trinity still enables rail edge bite, but as there is no hard inside edge, like you have on the Quad, the water flow can easily be released making the Trinity a more forgiving ride. 

When you drive off the bottom, especially on bigger waves, only the back 1/3 corner of the boards hull is in contact with the wave. The narrow entry to wide exit on the inside double concave of the Trinity was designed based on this principle. It allows for a slight secondary edge just behind the wide-point, transitioning to a deeper, more defined secondary channel at the tail. 

 Would you say either is better suited to certain wave conditions? 

Our Quad is best suited to big, hollow waves where speed and edge control are a must. The Trinity, while not quite as fast, is a better all rounder and more comfortable in smaller surf. 

The Wi-Fly tail design is similar in design to what Daniel Thompson has run on some of his previous “Modern planning hull” design surfboards. Was there any inspiration or cross over with his designs?

The Wi-Fly was 100% inspired by Tomo’s Vanguard model and I’ve also taken inspiration of his studies of Lindsay Lord’s theories on planning hulls. 

The Tomo surfboard Vanguard model.
The Tomo surfboard Vanguard model.

 Where do you see these designs progressing to in the future?

We are now seeing all brands experimenting with concaves and tail design. I’m not sure exactly where it will take us, but if you have everyone trying to push the design envelope it can only be a good thing for the future. 

Next up, America’s Jason Buckmaster from Ronin Bodyboards.

Where does the inspiration come from for the channel setups that you run on your boards come from? 

JB: Hands down Mez, he is the one responsible for the modern multi-channel movement.

I have been experimenting with multi channel bottoms for years now. I was lucky enough to have the Toobs factory in my town so I was able to get custom bodyboards right from the start. My first couple of boards had standard channels and clip crescent tails. It didn’t take me long to ask, what else is out there that could improve hold and speed while riding a wave?

I started getting single concave bottom with V-tails. Rode that set up for years on all my customs.

When I took over as the main custom shaper at Toobs, Mez (NMD) flew over to the Toobs factory and brought a few of the first quadcave prototype boards with him to show me. My mind was blown, because what he had done was added ribs in the single concave design to add more hold and tracking.

It didn’t take me long to start incorporating those ribs into the single concave design creating a multi channel system. I started with a single rib down the center with v-tail and it wasn’t to long before I came up with the scalloped tail to complement the multi channel design.

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Can you give us a little of the design theory behind the channel systems you run on your boards? 

Standard channels typically go +/- 12″ into the board from the tail. Sure they do something but, multi channel designs typically go much further into the board so they help with directional tracking.

When a board tracks the direction its pointed the rider doesn’t have to sink the rail into the wave face as much for holding the line.

Also, I am not a fan of side slipping. Its a speed killer because, to stop the side slip you must sink the rail and/or tail into the wave to gain control, that kills speed.

“With multi channel designs you can ride more on top of your board instead of sinking your rail into the wave face for control/holding your line, it means you can go faster and not loose control or side slip.

— JASON BUCKMASTER

Would you say there are certain wave conditions that the channels work better in? 

Multi channel boards work in all conditions and wave sizes. I have ridden them from 1ft to double overhead, glasssy, onshore and offshore winds. I think its more about speed than wave type when it comes to performance. The faster you go the better the channels perform but they still work fine in softer waves.

Have these bottom contours been influenced by Daniel Thompson’s “Modern Planing Hull” surfboards he has been producing over the last few years? 

I think Tomo/Slater designs has some of the most progressive designs in surfboards. They influenced me more with tail design than channels. I would say the Sci-Fi tail had some influence on me when I went from a 3 scalloped tail to a 3 to 6 scalloped tail. I saw a guy with a Sci-Fi at a local reef break one day and the light bulb went on. I was riding Ronin #13.

It’s the first full 6 channel board and had a full crescent tail. I thought wow, I could use the scalloped idea on the sci-fi but have all the scalloped points line up with the ribs of the 6 channels. Didn’t take me long to make that happen.

Where do you see these designs progressing to in the future? 

Multi channel designs with new tail designs that are cohesive with the channel design.

I scratch my head when I see a multi channel board with a clipped crescent tail. The shaper used modern performance design for the channels and used a 30+ year old tail design that does not help with the performance of the board.

Its pretty common knowledge that clipped crescent tails were designed for durability, not performance. The fact that its still the most common tail in the industry is something I hope changes in the future.

More important than channel or tail design in future, I hope that companies start looking at more environmentally friendly materials in board construction. Recycled foams, algae foam, etc. are some of the materials I hope to use in the future.

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Refresh bodyboards shaper Nuno Pereira from Portugal on his designs:

Where did the inspiration come from for the tri and quad vent channel setups that are now being run on your boards?

NP: The inspiration come from the other sports that also use different curves, and formats for different things, the same format, design is not the best for all type of waves and different maneuvers

Can you give us a little of the design theory behind your channel designs?

Other brands already produce boards with 3 and 4 channels before we start sell, we think to test something different. The ” V4 channels” have the best performance ever for fast waves, long tubes offer the best drive ever, with even more projection when use the board to create speed. 

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Would you say your channel system is suited to certain wave conditions?

I test the boards with the V4 channels last year in Indonesia for 1 month and is just the best board I have use there. They offer the best drive ever for the long and power tubes of the best Indo waves.

Here in Portugal and other clients and team riders that already have and use the boards, they inform that the board works perfect, and when the waves are fast, hollow and also long, the “V4 channels” offer the best drive and speed on the boards.

Have these bottom contours been influenced by Daniel Thompson’s “Modern Planing Hull” surfboards he has been producing over the last few years?

 No particular influence, or at least that I realize. We could be influenced by other persons, we just have more than 10 years of work in our factory, and we always thinking in some ideas, some after influence of other boards, photos, videos,…, but never in particular person or brand.

Where do you see these designs progressing to in the future?

Design of the boards will always be better in the future, always something to improve, but will always depend of materials and price of the boards.

We always testing something new with the team riders, at the moment 1 of the new test is develop a tow-in bodyboard for a team rider tried to catch the biggest wave ever in a bodyboard.

Finally Mike Stewart gives us a quick history lesson and his thoughts on the current best bottom contour configuration.

MS: Well, channels started from surfer Richie Collins making a suggestion to JP Paterson. Richie along with other surfboard shapers of that time had them on the tails/rails of boards. late 80’s early 90.

Jp was the first one to put them on a bodyboard, as far as I know with his version which were fairly deep. There were tooling limitations on how to make them on a bodyboard so the design was quite primitive.

I designed the first graduated channel using a stamp technique in the mid 90’s. 

“I think Mark Dale at Number 6 boards came out with the first modern quad.

— MIKE STEWART

Quad channels, were a bit too sticky for me especially in transition between moves so I made some modifications that i feel are significant improvements. By adding a flat section that is the same height as the hull,  in between the channel sets on both sides.

This section creates lift that give the board  a more loose feel that is easier to go from rail to rail move to move yet the channels still hold especially when the board is at a slight angle( to water flow) any turning. 

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