It’s prime time on Lake Martin.. summer is in full swing. There are lots of wakeboard/wakesurf demos and clinics happening at different marinas around the lake. These are for the public to test out products from different board companies… some events are free, some have a cost involved. Call before you haul, reserve your spot in a boat and go try out some new gear.
Trying out new product is fun and very beneficial. The average cost for a wakeboard or a wakesurf board can run +/- $500. It is important to get fitted properly for your board and I do mean the obvious, height, weight and binding size but also fitted to accomodate your riding style and ability. Participants get to receive some good instruction from pro tour riders and local regionally sponsored riders. Riders of all ages get to experience first class riding, coaching and the newest wake and wave creating machines.
Speaking of new.. how about not even out on the market yet. I have been working with Victoria skimboards now since 2010. It has been an incredible opportunity and experience. Wakesurfing has grown so much in that time. I just looked at my original sheets from Victoria and there was one model for wakesurfing in 2010- the Victoria Factor was only board available in their wake line. It came in 2 types, standard construction or a carbon fiber version the “Factor PCX”. That board is still around, in name only, as we completely reconstructed it’s shape. Lake Martin has become a testing ground for Victoria’s wake line. The boards that are sold here are not available to any other stores in the country! Currently there are 2 boards being tested here on Lake Martin. Of these two, one for sure will soon to be named and introduced in the 2016 line and the other is under consideration. The “Debut” the wood core Victoria was prototyped here and I mentioned it previously in Behind the Boat article this year. The Debut has gone on to be added to the current 2015 line and has been a big hit, especially for kids. We have however considered some new wood for it’s construction.
What happens in the prototype and design process is what’s really cool. The guys at Victoria make a board we theoretically agree will be a good option for a wakesurfer. Since these guys have been designing skimboards since 1976; their experience and knowledge of how a board which take you from shore out into surf, down a wave face and preform on it is second to none. They produce one or two of the prototype and ship’em out. Sometimes a board might have a slightly different thickness to give more flex or stiffness for speed. I try out different sizes and/or sometimes different internal construction materials. I usually get one prototype to try out, and the California crew gets one but we (Lake Martin) gets the first batches that make it to the construction stage for all size testing. They are at this point a 99% marketable board when I get the batch. The batch usually consists of 3 of each size to be sold. Unbeknown to most they are buying the first boards made that I keep up with how each rider likes them and see them preform. To my knowledge we have changed one item. which was internal on a board after the first run was made. I don’t think any one of us could tell there was a change made but it lowered the price due to a material cost. We all like a better price, so it was an easy decision. Keep in mind the skimboard world has to have a much much stronger board for a high level of rider. They have so many variables in the surf and skimmers drop off the top of a wave head high. That type of use requires a ton of strength to keep the board in one piece and it not just snap in half. Wakesurfing has almost the opposite in terms of board stress. Wakesurf waves have a nice size, much less speed and we aren’t dropping 6 feet into extremely shallow water. What is the same, or very similar anyway, is the boards ability to move on top of the water without being pulled by anything with weight on top of it. For whatever reason, some shapes in skimboarding need minor modification to be a wakesurfer, some do not work very well. I think the most common element that changes is length of the nose of a board. Wakesurfers tend to be more compact in relation to size of rider. Less nose on a board at the bottom turn of a wave makes it easier for us wakesurfers. Some boards take longer to make their way into the line than others. Currently there are 6 models available in the Victoria line up. The Debut, The Factor, The Factor PCX, The Agent, The Pixie and the Project V. New shape of the second version of the Factor was developed from testing on a little blue board skimboard that I still have. That little board has had more feet on top of it than you can imagine. It continues to be an unbelievably stable and wonderfully riding board. The Agent is a big version of Bri Cheml‘s pro model, which we begin getting in 2012. I have the first pass at that shape which didn’t turn out the way we hoped, the next board was the one that stuck and became a production model we get today. The squash tail makes it fast, and pushes really hard. Different than the new board coming out with a fish tail, the Agent is a single fin which became ideal for a big, skilled rider (the Pixie is for the smaller riders in Bri’s shape). There are quite a few people on Lake Martin surfing on boards that have made the final “cut” that will be released to the public in 2016. The new board which has a penciled in name, is a fish tail, with a tri fin set up. It obviously can be ridden as a twin fin or a single for the loosest ride possible. I’ve been riding one, and testing with quite a few other riders since 2012. This is board is already a big hit, the rest of the world can check it out next year after all us on Lake Martin enjoy it early.
I just got off the phone with Kyle at Victoria discussing, well… this article, but more importantly a new board. At 43 years old, I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do. I’m able physically to ride, sure that’s tons of fun but more importantly to be a part of testing product behind the scenes. Being able to have all the families here on Lake Martin involved with the sport of wakesurfing, which is the biggest, fastest growing sport to hit the wake scene… AND all of us being a part of the innovation from the oldest skimboard manufacturer in the world. From Laguna Beach, California their field testing boards comes straight to Alabama onto Lake Martin. I’ve visited with the guys in Laguna Beach (they got to laugh at me try to skimboard a wicked break called Aliso). I couldn’t be more stoked about being associated with Tex Haines and his entire crew at Victoria and think they feel the same way about all us here on Lake Martin.
see you on the water.