In the skimboard market, a Northwest manufacturer is adding a carbon-fiber-reinforced line, and a California firm is delivering Asian-made polyurethane-core models.
Light and durable polymer models avoid the waterlog problem of a wood skimboard, but the resin technology is alien to traditional skimboard riders.
``There has been an explosion of new skimboards onto the market in recent years,'' said Mike Maslowski, president of 360 Inc. of Fountain Valley, Calif. There is ``a mad rush from wood.'' Manufacturing for 360 is in Shenzhen, China, and the firm distributes skimboards, surfboards and bodyboards through warehouses on the East and West coasts.
The firm began experimenting with PU-core skimboards in mid-2003 and introduced the product as part of its Surface line in January. 360 forms the core in a mold, usually applies fiberglass top and bottom skins and puts the skimboard in a vacuum bag for curing. At retail, 360's seven sizes of skimboards of 34-54 inches cost from $77-$156 for a bamboo-faced model.
On a different path, domestic manufacturer Cabal Distributing Co. Inc. incorporates snowboard technology in compression molding its skimboards.
``We can pump out 40-50 boards a day using all four presses,'' said President Brian Duffy.
Cabal butts blocks of ABS into routed slots meshing with both the tail and nose of the high density PVC foam core.
``If a board gets dropped, it just bounces,'' Duffy said. Side walls are also ABS.
Cabal introduced glass-laminated foam-core skimboards for $229 and $239 retail in February and has aligned with designer Eric Roush of Santa Cruz, Calif., for market introduction of four signature-model skimboards beginning in November.
Two Roush entries with regular construction will retail for $289 each, and two with full, carbon-fiber-reinforced skins will retail for $425 each.
Cabal team rider Joey Pasquali had a prior business relationship with Roush, and that led to the Cabal manufacturing arrangement.
``We have our technology and [Roush's lengthy] shaping experience,'' Duffy said. ``It is going to make for a killer product.''
Most boards from Cabal have laminated skins of Texalium aluminized E-glass. Hexcel Corp. applies an aluminum coating to one side of the Texalium woven glass-fiber epoxy prepreg.
Cabal uses vacuum bagging as part of its thermal pneumatic epoxy process, a form of compression molding.
Bingen, Wash.-based Cabal employs about 10. The firm has a 3,500-square-foot facility in Troutdale, Ore., that manufactures snowboards as well as skimboards. Cabal also distributes surfboards. In November 2003, Cabal introduced a wood skimboard, now retailing for $115.
Maslowski and Duffy were interviewed at the Action Sports Retailer show, held Sept. 10-12 in San Diego.