Pukas Surf (the leading manufacturer and distributor of high-performance surfboards in Europe) and Tecnalia Research & Innovation have presented their research work into the mechanical behaviour of surfboards.
Surfing is still a sport governed by feelings. Most innovations in board design and manufacture, as well as analysis of surfing technique, have been the result of "trial and error" procedures and the experiences of shapers, trainers and surfers. The driving forces behind this joint project aim to "turn feelings into facts and figures" and provide as yet unquantified data that can be directly applied to improve the features of surfboards, the technical performance of surfers and measurement of parameters during competition.
This research project will revolutionise surfboard manufacturing processes, as they will provide a map of the critical points and their properties, something that will make it possible to incorporate a determined amount of various materials with known properties at specific locations on the surface of surfboards.
In order to carry out the project, we had to install the data gathering electronics —sensors and hardware— in the surfboard itself to transfer the data to a computer. In addition, we characterised the mechanical properties of surfboards so as to quantify the mechanical behaviour of the same and adapt it to the requirements of individual surfers. We have also defined laboratory tests that allow us to quantify the stiffness/flexibility of boards and their resistance to breakage.
Here, the elite surfers Aritz Aranburu, Hodei Collazo, Kepa Acero and Mario Azurza have been responsible for carrying out the initial experiments designed to characterise the stresses affecting surfboards as faithfully as possible. Other professional surfers, such as Tiago Pires, Joan Duru, Eneko Acero and Tim Boal, are expected to join the project at a later date.