Engineering The Perfect Surfboard

Ride waves like never before

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Since the late fifties, generations of surfers have come to love the feel of foam-and-fiberglass boards. But the boards have their flaws: They’re heavy, and fiberglass shells ding easily. New carbon-fiber decks fix both problems, but surfers don’t like the way they ride—too stiff. The Starboard Hybrid is the best of both worlds. It’s 20 percent lighter and up to three times stronger than classic boards, yet it feels like good old foam-and-glass on the waves.

1) I-Beam Support

A carbon-fiber I-beam runs lengthwise down the centerline. It makes the board strong enough to resist breakage in extreme events—say, when a large wave detonates on top of the board—but because it’s underneath a shock-absorbing foam layer, it doesn’t affect the ride under normal conditions.

2) Lightweight Core

Engineers inject ultralightweight expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam into a mold to create the board’s shape.

3) Fiberglass Bond

Military-grade fiberglass holds the core to the layer above.

4) High-density Foam

Three millimeters of foam helps strengthen the board’s outer skin.

5) Fiberglass Bond

Another glass layer secures foam to skin.

6) Carbon-Fiber Skin

Layers of carbon fiber on the top and bottom of the board sit at 45-degree angles. The arrangement creates a crosshatch, which makes the Hybrid flexible yet less likely to fracture.

Starboard Hybrid

Weight: 5 lbs.

Price: $1,300

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Popular Science_._