After quitting his job as a designer at Apple in 1998, Thomas Meyerhoffer dedicated himself to surfing every day. But he hated his boards, and set about inventing a new one. Though initially laughed at, the design is now something of a blockbuster–the initial run of 1,000 copies sold out, and the backorders stretch through February.
As The New York Times reports, Meyerhoffer–who has also designed for Porsche and Cappelini, and created everything from paper towel dispensers and ski goggles–approached the task with zero preconceptions. He let trial and error guide him; as he says, “I never designed the board to look this way. It became this way.” Not without a lot of intensive work, though: Meyerhoffer originally started producing prototypes using CNC milling, but that wasn’t precise enough so he had to re-learn the lost art of manual board shaping.
What The Times article manages to skip entirely is why the board actually works. Meyerhoffer’s key insight was that the the board isn’t monolithic; instead, it has different zones that need to serve much different functions. Thus, near the front, there’s a “waist” which allows a paddling surfer to maneuver more easily, with less impediments to her arms. In the back, the pointy tail digs into a wave’s surface, providing leverage to maneuver the board during tail rides. For nose rides, the front end is deeply concave, to conform to the wave and offer lateral stability. It all gets really complicated, but Meyerhoffer is happy to explain, in this video which Design Boom unearthed: