First, I'm not really regularly involved with testing and designing, so my thoughts on the subject is more my personal ones.
The first thing to note is that there are two issues at play here. One is deciding what the _designs objectives_ for a given board should be. Ie what stuff is it supposed to do good, for who, how should it feel, sail range etc. When this is decided the second issue comes into play and that is designing a board that fills the goals as good as possible. Sometimes in the design process you might get some surprising results and might have to go back and adjust your objectives (like with the EVO which from the beginning conceived as a "slow wave" board but ended up a great all round wave board).
If design objectives does not change from one year to another, then it up to the shapers and designers to build protos that have to prove themselves against the current board in being an even better match relative the design criteria. Often the protos are not better, or only so little better that it is not worth making a new model. This happened to many of the EVO models over the years (05-06 E70 and E74, 07-08 E62 and E80 fx) and also to the Pure Acids (07-08).
An example of a update to "do the same thing better" is the EVO 62 06-07/08. The 07/08 is clearly a more well rounded shape but it does the same things as the 06, only better. An even more extreme example would be the PA73 06 -> PA74 07. These boards are made to excel in the same conditions, but the shape concepts are pretty much totally different. A case where (I would say) the design objectives was altered a bit is EVO 06-07. The 07 was more oriented to perform well also in clean down the line stuff. Comparing 06 E74 with 07 E75, it is clear this was achieved. But for 08 is was decided to take it back to a more "onshore" focus (but keep as much of the of the line stuff as possible). This is an interesting example. Roughly, the 06 and 08 have the same design objectives, but the tack towards more down the line performance in 07 provided lots of learning experiences and hence I think the 08 version is better than it would have been of the same design objectives would have been kept 06 through 08.
But is the 08 EVO better than the 07? Well, this will depend on the sailor. Of course, it must have been thought that the 08 model would be a better board for the majority of sailors out there or else it would not have been put into production. Personally I also think the 08 boards are better for most people. But of course there can be som odd sailor out there who still prefers the 07. Similarly some may prefer the 06 PA73 over the 07/08 PA 74 (though I DEFINITELY like the 07/0 better). Some may like the 06 PA80 better than the 07 and so on. Generally, I think we do see some kind of objective improvement "in mean" but since taste is a so strong a factor in waves, it is very hard to guarantee improvement on an individual level.
09 PA? Isn't it still 07?
Last edited by Ola_H; 17th October 2007 at 05:57 AM.