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A Tale of Surfboards

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Sitting at the edge of the beach watching those super cool surfer splitting the waves indeed sparks one’s mind to start learning how to surf. If you are one of those who feel intrigued by this, have you ever questioned one little thing about the surfboard? Of how this magic board carries a body atop the surface and swings over the high and low waves? Well, if you are as curious as I am, here is your answer. 

I believe that our thematic topic underlining ocean is inseparable from one of the most popular water sports, surfing. But hold on your thought as I am not going to inform some explanatory story about surfing, yet about the surfboards! Okay, probably you think it is not that much interesting. Well, wait until you see the series of eye catching surfboards displayed inside Chilli Surfboards’ store then your questions may arise from there. 

How it all begins 

I got lucky to find a reliable source of information for this matter, Dylan Hayllar, the Manager of Production at ‘Chilli’ Surfboards, a prominent surfboard store in the island. Answering my inquisition behind surfboard making, he explains the process subtly. First, it started with a piece of foam. They put it through a cutting machine, shaping the the outline of the board. Then the curves rails and concaves are hand shaped to get it perfect. “Next, the laminating stage begins where it is glassed. Two layers of 4 ounce fiberglass on the top and one 4 ounce layer on the bottom,” he explained in detail, “Later, the fin plugs are installed and the whole board is sanded with special attention given to the rails on the tail, we want them nice and sharp. It then goes to a QC [quality control] room and inspected. If that is cleared, you have a finished product.” 

How it is perfected 

Modifications and experiments seem to be essential in Chilli. The production team always comes with new ideas, new materials, rocker concaves and find placements all the time. They even have a program called Project Black that helps them understand and develop new models. Though the updates do not occur extremely each time, they sustain to make slight changes if they find something that works better. What makes a surfboard considered high- quality? It’s basically the shaper. The person who has done countless hours in a shaping bay filled with foam dust, spent money experimenting with new materials, talking with team riders and actually riding the boards themselves. The founder of Chilli Surfboards, James ‘ Chilli’ Cheal is actually the shaper. He’s a well-respected craftsman and has been doing boardsmith for over 20 years. “You need someone who understands board design and is passionate about what they do. Materials also play a massive role, no corners are cut with us, the highest quality blanks, resin and cloth are always imported from Australia, not China,” Hyllar continues. 

How each differs 

Scouring the website, I was intrigued by the board options. From beginners to professionals, a surfboard varies in its features. Mainly how to categorize them is the volume of the surfboard— of how buoyant it is, and of course, the dimension. Generally, a bigger board is easier to learn on while a smaller board takes more skill. The best surfers tend to ride boards about as long as their height, with the weight depending on how they will ride the boards. Most pros prefer it with as little volume as possible to ensure the sensitivity, reaction and speed is as tight as it can be. 

How creativity presents 

Being open to do tailor-made, Chilli offers a one-of-a-kind surfboard. Also, they can do a seven-day turnaround on said custom orders – while in other places this usually takes up to 8 weeks. People can order online through their website, phone call, text, email or come and see them in person at the store. And speaking of inspirations to detail a surfboard, it departs from anywhere. Sometimes it’s the type of wave the shaper is trying to apply, or suggestions from the customer, or maybe team riders can trigger a new wave of thought. Aesthetically, their brand image is quite clean to the fact that they adore simplicity as fine as blacks and whites equally to the time they design logos and flashy designs. When people pick up a Chilli surfboard they want them to feel the quality and embrace the true outline without distracting too much. 

What the future would be 

An evolution of sophisticated surfboards is predicted to continue, harnessing the way it currently is, slow but noticeable. As Hyllar admits, “It’s a very articulate and particular design process. The biggest changes will come with the Kelly Slater Wave Pool. I can see boards being designed specifically for wave pools, that wouldn’t even work in the ocean. And yes, It’s definitely going to be very interesting.” 



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