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Board design goes soft to counter hard hitting wave pools

Soft boards will never surf the same way as your favourite high-performance shortboard. But one man is trying to change that.

Wave pools are notoriously hard on surfboards. There is more concrete and metal at your local wave pool than at the beach. Consequently, your chances of encountering said material with our precious board are increased. Factor in a hurried $90-per-hour time limit and surfboards easily become casualties.

Currently, epoxy construction high performance shortboards are the preferred sled for wave pools. But shaper Scott Norby has taken epoxy one step further with a new durable semi-soft build. His brand Cush Surfboards has built a special tough performance board just for wave pools.

“Wave pools are full of cement and a Cush board can roll down a cement stairway with no dings,” said Norby. “We have the magic formula for parks (who hire out the boards) to save big on board damage.”

cush surfboard factory

The Cush Surfboards tech is pretty simple. Custom hand-shaped or machine shaped epoxy builds are sheathed in an eighth inch of vinyl. To ensure a tight bond the vinyl (about the thickness of 2mm wetsuit) is vacuum sealed. The rails are made of a stiff memory foam composite. The whole board is then coated with urethane.

Building a durable surfboard is nothing new. Lib Tech has one of the strongest boards on the market. Likewise, Firewire’s durable sandwich builds are solid as well. But the trend in softer boards, led by makers like Catch Surf, has opened the world’s eyes to softie performance with each new Jamie O’Brien edit.

Scott says the smooth foam waxes up like a normal sled. It also allows you to sink your feet into the deck for a more “connected” feel with the board.

“So yeah, our boards are like any other surfboard. But we take an extra step and vacuum bag a soft vinyl wrap on the boards we make for parks, and for core surfers who surf a lot over cobblestone and rock reefs.”

Scott says the designs are more watertight than traditional epoxy. Water has to go through the skin before it reaches the basalt and carbon fiber cloth covering the EPS foam core 

Cush Surfboard for Wave poolsLOVE

”It feels like the steering wheel on your car. But the memory foam retains shape which is crucial for tail and rail shape.”  

To build Cush, Norby licensed the technology from North Shore shaper Jim Richardson who developed the tech back in 2000. Cush Surfboards signed a license agreement and soon began building their park boards. Norby took mixed in his past experience in the surf industry and lessons learned from kitesurfing, and applied them to the brand.

“I learned a lot about production and the manufacturing of surfboards. Kitesurfing’s harness hooks hitting boards will crush and crack them. I began experimenting with a board construction which would withstand harness strikes much better. We also thought that a soft-shell board makes for a more grippier board. Your feet just sink in.”

Scott adds that they’ve been sending out boards to pros and wave pools for the past four years. And now the company is focusing on stocking wave pool rental racks.

“The parks definitely need a board that is durable, but can also meet the demands of high performance surfing that the pros want.”


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