One of the products featured in this year’s Australian International Design Awards exhibition is the Meyerhoffer Surfboard. It is a distinct hybrid surfboard design, and behaves like both a longboard and a shortboard. You can stand on the back and turn the board easily like a shortboard, and you can also nose ride on the front like a longboard. Designed by California-based Thomas Meyerhoffer, it was developed in partnership with Australian-based company Global Surf Industries. The combination of the shape of the board and a lightweight SLX epoxy material make for a truly unique product. The board received an Australian International Design Award in 2010.
This board is the latest of several Australian innovations in surfing technology that have been displayed and collected by the Museum. In 1980 the development of the three fin surfboard by Simon Anderson was considered the most significant change in the 80 year history of surfboard design. The development of the FCS removable fin system was a second major innovation in surfboard design.
Another unusual Australian approach to surfboard design and manufacture was the Bambu surfboard designed and made by Mei Yap Gordon and Shale Gordon in Byron Bay. This bamboo surfboard received an Australian Design Award for Industrial Design in 2002 and was displayed at Powerhouse Museum. With a core of polystyrene foam with a covering of bamboo veneer embedded in epoxy resin, it has its primary strength stored in the outer skin resulting in a more flexible board. The weight of the board is distributed away from the centre of the board and it is lighter, faster and more durable than conventional boards. The use of natural bamboo on the exterior reduced the need for extensive use of resin and fibre glass. It also gives the board a natural ‘eco-friendly’ aesthetic.
In 2005 the FCS H-2 surfboard fins received the Australian Design Award of the Year and were also displayed at the Museum. These fins represented the introduction of a hi-tech approach in what had traditionally been a handcrafted industry. They were a result of a unique collaboration between hydrodynamic and materials experts, manufacturing consultants, world champion surfers and fin makers. The fin has a different geometry than previous fins and is made from a lightweight aluminium and fibreglass composite material. The design was developed using scientific tank flow testing and refined by use in the ocean. This was a new approach to improving surfboard performance by focusing on the design of the fins themselves rather than the shape of the board.