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Poly, EPS, and our Design Process.

Posted by CJ Nelson on

Nor cal test session in persuit of perfection. Photo: Justin Bowers / Surfer Magazine

First off let's kinda define "eps" and "poly" so we're all on the same page here. A traditional surfboard known as a "poly" board is a board made with a polyurethane foam blank and glassed using polyester resin. An "eps"surfboard is made out of an expanded polystyrene foam blank and glassed with epoxy resin. Either form of blank can be used to build a board using nearly the same traditional shaping and lamination processes. We build our own eps blanks and use highest quality epoxy resins to create our Thunderbolt Technologies and Epoxy Matrix boards.

I want to share with you a little bit about our brand and the design process we take to get the perfect eps surfboard. Lots of people ask me "what works better, poly or eps?" For me that's an easy question and the answer is without a shadow of a doubt, eps. But, poly boards are a key element in our design and development process. Poly boards are much easier and less expensive to build than our Thunderbolt and Epoxy Matrix constructions, so we start our design/dev process with poly boards. I have to find the perfect poly board before we turn it into a perfect functioning production eps board. I usually ride 5 or 6 of the same poly model before I find the "perfect" one. Only then am I comfortable with investing the time and energy into building our first eps prototype. The reason I say eps surfboards ride better is because when shaped and designed properly, they are much more responsive and lively not to mention durable and resilient. The feeling of riding a poly board in comparison is very slow and sluggish as well as being super fragile.

That being said, our eps boards are not your average surf craft. Our proprietary eps blanks are designed from the inside out and include internal fiberglass and carbon fiber flex control components to provide the exact flex and twist characteristics that I want for each model. Combined with multiple laminations of fiberglass and/or carbon fiber/other materials, our boards give a completely different feel than any longboard in the world. Prior to the development of these constructions, I don't think anyone has ever built an eps longboard properly. Everyone has had their primary focus on light weight and durability rather than performance, which ends up being an indestructible cork that surfs like crap.

We focused on flex patterns, lower volumes, rail profile tuning and other secrets which are key to adjusting traditional poly shapes to the naturally lower density of eps. We build the boards to hit proper target weights and laminate using materials that perform as well as they look. No molded painted up "pop out" surf planks here. Our boards are 100% hand made and laminated by our team of builders. No other factory in the world knows how to build surfboards like we do. Ours look and feel traditional until you get them up and moving then those advanced materials naturally start working with you. It's like building a vintage race car with those sexy old curves and colors but dropping in the most contemporary race motor and suspension in the world and making the car run with efficiency like never before. That's basically what we are doing here. That old race car with the original factory specs is cool to drive but a bit boring after driving the new and souped up version. That's how I feel about poly boards versus eps boards, and it’s likely how surfers 60+ years ago felt when transitioning from wood to poly.

Now, I get that some people will want that very traditional poly feel that they are so used to which I respect. We have a nice line of top-notch poly boards to cater to your traditional needs and we will be stoked to provide stock poly boards via our dealers and website as well as take custom orders for select models. But, for those like myself who want to experience speed and flow like you have never felt and push the sport of longboarding into uncharted territory, the eps line will blow your mind and inspire the hell out of you.

If you look at my social media you will notice that I'm riding both poly and eps boards and now you understand why. I'm making sure that we are producing the best riding eps longboards on the planet and riding everything is all part of the design process. Adding to our line will always start with poly boards and we will continue to produce quality poly boards along with our Epoxy Matrix and Thunderbolt Technologies constructions. So as our company and lineup continues to evolve, I will be testing and proving new shapes and designs starting with poly with a focus of finding the perfect eps version.

I appreciate your time and support. Let's evolve our surfing together!

Thank you,

-CJ