UltraCore: Records Weights, SURF Magazin (Germany), 2017
5.6 kilograms for a wave board, just under six kilograms for a 115 liter freerace board. Starboard is “shedding the pounds” off their board weights for 2017. The reason behind these lighter boards is this new material: UltraCore. Starboard’s brand manager and designer Tiesda You tells us what this is all about.
Sandwich material intervene in the board’s construction in between the EPS foam core and the laminate fabrics (usually carbon or glass fibers). The better and thicker the sandwich material, the less hard landings and kicks damage the core and less the board will soften quickly.
Manuel Vogel/SURF: The 2017 board weights from Starboard obviously got our attention. The small sizes of slalom, wave and freeride boards are all more or less below six kilograms. According to Starboard, this new material called UltraCore is what makes it possible. What’s behind UltraCore?
Tiesda You: I can’t tell you all the details, sorry, only so much: it is a new sandwich material (sandwich absorbs a large part of the impact load and is used in between the foam core and carbon / glass fiber laminate, editors note). Externally (In its appearance) it looks hardly different from conventional sandwich – that’s good, because it is more difficult for our competitors to follow. The material has 40-50 percent better results in terms of impact and shear forces – it is simply much more stable. As a result, the carbon and the resin can be reduced over the sandwich and a board with the same durability but significantly lower weight can be built.
Manuel Vogel/SURF: How do you develop such a material? Do you have partners or assistants who help you?
Tiesda You: We have teamed up with a sandwich specialist from the aircraft industry and have made some lab tests together. A series of experiments then produced these amazing results. The only problem was to produce the material in sufficient quantities for the construction of the boards, since no one had previously used it industrially. For the 2017 production we have got it together. Not sure yet what will happen in 2018, it’s still in the stars. Another factor of the lower board weights are the masts and fin boxes, which we now manufacture ourselves at Starboard. These boxes are 40 percent lighter, what makes at a wave board with five boxes a big difference.
Manuel Vogel/SURF: In the past, it was often the case that the end-consumer paid said innovations with higher board prices. How is UltraCore affecting the prices this time around?
Tiesda You: We’ve been thinking a lot about it and use the new Ultracore sandwich – which costs about twice as much as conventional sandwich material – with freeride boards in the deck and bottom as well as carbon in the rails without increasing the prices. To offer a better quality at the same price is only possible if you lower your own profit margin, which we’ve made with the freeride boards. Other brands have tried to keep the margins unchanged in the past through the use of a cheaper foam or the complete elimination of sandwich material. I don’t want to blaspheme the products of other brands in no case, even those brands build magnificent boards and I use them regularly – before I saw them up to see what’s inside (laughs).
Manuel Vogel/SURF: This is, however, only half of the story. Boards such as the Reactor or the Futura have become more expensive in the light UltraCore Reflex Carbon construction!
Tiesda You: That’s right. We try to keep the prices for the mass stable, therefore the constant price in the Freeride segment. For the whole range, we were not able to follow that policy.
Manuel Vogel/SURF: As a manufacturer you always have to play a balance game between weight and durability. Don’t light weights often translate into less durability?
Tiesda You: As I said, the new material is significantly more stable if you dimension it just as we had it. So you can either build boards with unchanged weight, which are much more stable or we even keep the stability constant and reduce the weight. We were very pleased with the durability of our boards, so our decision was clear to make the boards lighter.