New board makes windsurfing available to all
Appears in Print as: 'WIDE-USE WINDSURFING BOARD '
Former windsurfing race champion Bruce Wylie, now the head of COBRA International’s (Chonburi, Thailand) watersports business unit, saw that his sport was losing numbers. That concern was echoed by COBRA’s industry retail customers, who were seeing a downward trend in sales, in part because of the growing dominance of heavy boards with massive sails, designed for high winds and extreme conditions. In response, Wylie wanted to develop a new windsurfing board that could function equally well for the racing enthusiast, those who teach students new to the windsurfing sport and even for those who would simply use it like a stand-up paddleboard on windless days. In short. Wylie decided to produce a board so simple it could be picked up off the beach and enjoyed by a first-time sailor, yet offer the option of fleet racing to the more advanced sailor.
About a year ago, the COBRA team started work on prototypes, looking for inspiration from classic race boards of the past, but also referencing the latest design ideas. Wylie knew that his solution would need to balance weight with long-term durability and low cost. To make the board, a lightweight expanded polystyrene (EPS) core, with the desired shape and relaxed “rockers” (referring to the small upturns at the front and back of the board that enable easy gliding on flat water), is carefully encapsulated with varying weights of commodity chopped strand fiberglass and open structure “combi mats.” (The latter are a combination of discontinuous fiberglass strands stitched to a woven fiberglass fabric.) The result is wet out with a foaming, bio-based epoxy resin system from Sicomin Epoxy Systems (Châteauneuf les Martigues, France). The foaming action during infusion of the glass reinforcements creates a foam “sandwich” skin structure, essentially stiffening the laminate. Wylie says that COBRA plans to evaluate a fully recycled EPS core option for the future, to extend its environmental benefits.Dubbed the Windsurfer LT, the new board — at a length of 3.7m, width of 65 cm, and an overall weight of 15 kg — is similar in size to the first windsurfing racing boards of the 1970s, but is 6.5 kg lighter. COBRA says it wanted to build a board that provides more people with access to windsurfing and make it available to retailers worldwide. So far, so good: Windsurfing organizations worldwide are reportedly happy with the design and several have adopted the board as standard equipment for Windsurfer Class racing.
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