Cork board review.
By Dan Dobbin.
“Why can’t you just ride normal boards?” quiped my old boxy commrade Palmer.
We were reviewing footage snapped on an iPhone of today’s small, slow waves at a local reef while catching up for dinner after way to long. He was in town for one night only, heading north with his little family in tow and keen to surf said reef the next day, but prospects weren’t looking great.
In the footage, yours truly paddles late into a hollow little 2fter, air drops, then bounces too high into the lip line, blowing the best wave to come through that day.
In my defence, I’d pointed out it was the first surf on the Corky, not a lot of flex yet in the three sandwich layers of cork, styrofoam and Paulownia wood, hence the bounce and blow.
I’ll admit I’m guilty of some questionable design rabbit holes over the years. Flat bat tails and gel coated molded designs….
(Read here: https://infoamed.com/2020/04/19/bubble-butt)
But variety, they say, is the spice of life. Who really wants to surf a 41.5 cresent tail their whole booging life?
So after interviewing Ricardo Paes, master craftsman behind Cork Boards, I put my money where my mouth is and slapped down some cash on a Corky of my own.
(Read here: https://infoamed.com/2020/11/19/cork-boards)
The cost? A 43′ with no fancy extras was $420 Ozzie dollars ( around $450 NZed buckeroos) so fairly comparable to a high end board. Additional features obviously add cost, as does postage depending on where you live.
Ricardo quote of a build time of around 2 weeks was fairly spot on, while the shipping and delivery time to Australia which is usually 3-6 working days took a little longer because of Covid quarantine restrictions and the busy Xmas period.
Unboxing revealed an excellent, hand crafted weapon. All the seals and joins were meticulously finished and a personalised “Infoamed” burned into the deck and bottom was a nice touch.
She’s noticeable heavier than a foam boog when applying the under the arm test, but surprisingly this isn’t really noticeable once the board is in the water, with the increased buoyancy of the materials acting to compensate for the extra weight.
Which brings us to the real guts of why your reading this review. How does a Cork board perform in the salt?
First up, she’s stiff. Like brand new Polypro stiff. See beginning of article for issues this may cause at ledgy reef breaks until worked in.
But hopefully your not going shopping for something different expecting a contemporary experience.
It’s been said somewhere along the line that designing and shaping surfcraft is all about engineering a feeling. This is the answer to Palmer’s question. Different designs and materials give you varied sensory feedback and ultimately can produce a more rich overall surfing experience.
The Cork board worked best in clean, down the conditions with a bit of juice.Fortunately for this little black duck a series of consistent east swells peppered the NSW North Coast with just these conditions through the mid to late summer.
The stiffness and increased inertia of the Corky means it feels noticeable faster down the line and compelled the rider to really think in terms of drawing nice clean lines. This is perhaps similar to the way a fish shaped surfboard cleans up a riders surfing by making them surf within the design elements of the board. You can’t impose your will on the board, rather you have to feel what it’s asking you to do and comply.
Somewhere like the waves in Indonesia would be a dream for the Cork board.
The different materials and feedback from the board also meant a slight adjustment in body posture and mechanics. I found I felt the need to slightly tense up and stiffen my body more, and sit a little higher in the chest to accommodate for the reduced recoil you experience compared to a foam board. The Cork board doesn’t snap out of a turn like a foam board, but rather cuts through the waters surface, similar to a fibreglass surfboard.
In terms of flinging oneself airborne, after a few tentative initial attempts, the landings were not the spine destroying affairs that one would expect when flipping onto a covered piece of wood. I confess I did baulk at one invert attempt that would have had the landing happening in the flats though. Still the styrofoam inner layer does a surprisingly good job of providing cushioning on the landings.
One issue that did arise was the cracking of the cork on the deck under my left elbow, but a quick squirt if some glue sealed the deal on that issue.
Essentially the Cork board feels like what it is, a combination of old wood paipo feels, but with modern bodyboard design and different materials allowing for greater performance capabilities.
If your looking for something that is environmentally recyclable, beautifully crafted and offers the opportunity to expand your wave riding experience than slapping down some cash on a Cork board may very well be for you.
Plus, riding different boards is fun as hell.