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Old 18th October 2007, 04:32 AM   #11
Ola_H
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Originally Posted by steveC View Post
Rapid change has its cost. Frankly, I think much of the cost of fashion and changing designs might be better invested in construction innovations that influence longer product life.
But I think you miss the point here. In my first post I say that changes are in fact not made if there is not enough "return". PA 07->08 and many EVOs are examples of that and that happens despite lots of protos being made and tested.

Looking at thiss, what can better give real sailing value to a board than the board being as good as possible? That new stuff comes out will not change the behavior of the current board. Suppose Starboard held back one year, despite having significantly better shapes ready. If you then bought the new board you would in a way be fooled of one years worth of development. Of course, it would be better for your friend just trying to get rid of his board from last year, but it will not be better for you. So, not producing a better board when it exists will only be good for the people that are selling their old stuff, and since the whole argument from the beginning comes down to being able to keep the stuff longer this is sort of a contradiction, isn't it?

The industry will always keep saying that the latest stuff is the best. And usually it is. But again, when you're allready on a board, it's up to you, not the industry, to decide when it's worth getting a new one.

A have a few friends who have gone for custom boards the last few years. Ironically,one reason - maybe the main one - is to get a board they can keep for a longer time. The reason they feel they can do this has generally nothing to do with performance or customization. It is just the fact that with custom graphics, nobody will notice you're on last years board, so you can just skip that update frenzy altogether. Psychology, my friends...
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Old 18th October 2007, 04:36 AM   #12
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And hey, within a few year, we will have liquid crystal coloring systems so you can just download the latest graphics and plug the board into your USB port and watch it update its graphics.
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Old 18th October 2007, 02:47 PM   #13
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Ola,

I would agree if it was really like that!

At times changes are worth, other times for some reason some people's feeling is that they are just for changes' sake, which is why we are here talking. I am not much into wave sailing so I understand my view may be inaccurate, but I still don't understand why the Evo line was changed by incorporating some better "pure down the line" features when there is the PA line there. Net result seems to me just that the two lines are closer now, and the Evo XTVs sizes are no more so nicely assorted (again, that thread about the two boards quiver...); did I have to buy a wave board now, it could no more be an Evo 83/80: just a bit too small now! And a 90 would be too big and a 75 too small and a PA not so suited to mushy conditions and a K not enough rangy for higher winds and really good days... goodbye Starboard...

Another example. When I bought my S95 I discarded "brand x model y" because I wanted proven performance from #1 manufacturer, and the S95 was descending with slight changes from the glorious S100: easy choice, despite "brand x model y" was already there, with perfectly competitive (better?) performances. Now I am changing, and, guess what? There is a manufacturer, "brand x", that is still keeping his "model y" in production, with only very very slight shape changes and NO graphic changes, and it is still credited of extremely high performances, perfectly competitive (better!) to those of the last iSonics. Good for me, choosing is easy this time too.

My ideal manufacturer does not make mistakes. It just makes good boards, well tested, proven and refined. Shapes are kept year by year unless there is really something new going on, and even then older shapes are available for traditionalists. Lineup objectives are consistent so that purchasing mistakes are kept to a minimum. No marketing tricks, no "new" trendy graphics, just plain white or single colour with logos. Logos may change a little bit every now and then, but not so much that older customer are disappointed. A lighter, no paint, "gray filler" lighter pro edition is allowed.
Now I don't mean Starboard is supposed to behave that way: I am sure that a big manufacturer simply needs to adopt other strategies in order to succeed. But I also think that my "ideal" manufacturer is the one that will never disappoint his customers, and that a different behaviour implies the risk of making customers unhappy, which is why we are here talking about changes for changes' sake.

By the way: I remember when, at last, refined production sandwich boards (Cobra) hit the market and made custom boards almost disappear (now many former custom boards builders are shaping for the big brands). That was also because the production quality gap with custom boards was filled to a good deal. Now it seems that production sandwich boards (Cobra) are loosing some quality, and this could mean better chances for small (custom) manufacturers. Those who don't (need to) make continuous changes, who paint in plain white or with subdued graphics...

Last edited by geo; 18th October 2007 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 19th October 2007, 01:38 AM   #14
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Hi Ola,

With all due respect, I think that one's outlook relative to change plays an interest role here. Frankly, I think much of the changes the industry makes is more related to fashion and trends than real ground breaking innovation, particularly if it gets down to the yearly cycles. Now, I don't want to suggest that yearly development cycles are simply a facade or sham, because I understand that all the hard work that designers, product development and testers invest does yield results. Yet, I still serious question whether doing things a bit differently all the time leads to vast improvements.

If one was to contrast design differences in boards over the last 8-9 years, there are obviously significant changes that have been made. But, when it comes to performance differences, I think that the actual improvements made are really not that great, particularly in some areas like classic waveboards. Quite frankly, this is clearly arguable, and I'm sure that you could highlight some areas, like maybe the development of the EVOs, that spawned a different approach to the waveboard concept.

Really, I think one thing that might be overlooked here is how a rider's style and approach affects things. Right now it appears that the twin fin concept will have a growing influence on the market, especially since some of the top riders are using the concept to create a new style of riding. One only has to look back at surfboard development over the years, and I think that you can clearly see what I'm saying. At one point in time, it was a virtual given that longboards were dead, but history proved that to be clearly wrong.

Yet, despite new trends, does that mean that single fin waveboards are on the way out and no longer as good? I would argue no. Much depends on the style and approach that a rider wants to focus on. So, I think that a new door will open for a new waveboard model, but the single fins (EVOs and PAs) will most likely live on. However, will the yearly changes in a given model yield ground breaking differences? Again, I would argue probably not.

As time moves on, change is here to stay, but I think that magnitude of change will be quite subtle in nature. No reason not to incorporate design and construction updates as they're realized, but I feel that the simple fashion updates could be toned down a bit for customers to realize better value and less instant obsolence. Like I pointed out earlier, an emphasis on construction improvements would be a more desirable focus point for investment.
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Old 19th October 2007, 05:12 AM   #15
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Geo, don't know enough about slalom boards to comment on that, but regarding the wave boards, I still argue that EVOS and Acids are as far apart as ever. The crucial point is that both of them are all round wave boards that differn more in style than in what conditions they suit. Of course, there is not a 100% overlap in suitable conditions for a typical sailor, but big enough. The problem here is that when the EVO's came around, thy were billed _by others_ mags and stuff) as onshore boards for slow waves, but they have never been only that (again, check the promo text from the 04 site). Some brands do positions their boards more relative conditions (and optimize their short and wide board for slow onshore waves sacrificing range). Nothing wrong with that, its one way of doing it. But both the EVO and Acid have always been about a wide range but instead different styles. That may seem more fuzzy, but it is VERY seldom a short conversation (on a forum like this) will not put a guy on the right board.

So, therefore the "sideshore thing" with the EVO's is definitely not out of context. They were always good sideshore boards, its just that different sizes from different years have more or less of that "drive" which will make them rock in faster waves. Fx, the 70 have always been a drivier shape, each year. Still it has been just as much of an EVO as any other size. And the 07 75 was also a "perfect EVO", in fact germans SURF heralded it as the most "modern" version of this class of boards.

About the "assortment" thing, I think the current EVO lineup is better spaced. In 06, the 74-83 step was too large since the 83 was a faster design. 74+83 would make a good two board quiver for some, but at the same time, for may people looking for one board, the 74 got a bit to small and the 83 a bit to much to handle in high wind. Choices are more clear in the 07/08 lineup, and I don't really see a gap between the 80 and 90. In fact, my guess is that over 90% of E83 sailors would be happier on the E80. There are some special things the E83 does very well, but overall the E80 is just a better wave board (and in particular a "better EVO", ie more true to the original concept).

Steve: I don't know. None of us can look into the future, but if you look at riding styles and board shapes retrospectively, there is a clear correlation and both sailing style trends of pros and amateurs have affected things. long time ago we had flat rockered Euro waves and Hookipa pro boards, then Polakow came along and pro boards go faster which made them more suited to general sailors that started to ride waves more. The EVO came along with more rocker (again) but in a wider package and which led to an explosion in boards that provide good riding easily which again upped the general level and made a few sailors look for the sharper and now more all roudn "classic shapes". Now we're seeing changes again, with Kauli having maybe as much influence on how the pros want to ride a wave as Jason had in the early 90s. So, pro boards will change (and the twin fins is just a small part of it) and this will sooner or later influence production boards too. Its a never ending story and when looking back, I don't see that many "bad choices" in (wave) board design made by manufacturers. Most stuff fit their time well and some was part of a leap into the future.
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Old 19th October 2007, 10:14 AM   #16
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Hi Ola,

I thought I might throw a slightly different focus on my earlier comments. Yet, overall, I think that there's still a good synergy that comes to the top for the sport's benefit. What I think doesn't get as much serious consideration in the current scheme of things is that the past lacks a certain degree of weight and importance. Quite frankly, this gets back to my earlier general point of creating customer value, and quite frankly, establishing character and value to the past.

Of course, the future is always going to be the leading vanguard that focuses on new ideas and style. Nonetheless, I think that past performance and a positive recognition of earlier concepts and triumphs offers value and support for the brand. Needless to say, sometime awesome statements in time (that are often difficult to repeat) come from earlier designs.

I guess my point is that the used market supports the sport, and maybe more importantly, that the past can offer similar leverage in affecting the positive growth of the sport, particularly those folks with limited funds. Obviously, less industry sales in viewing this perspective, but the benefits to the brand may be just as noteworthy in establishing participation, and ultimately, leadership in the marketplace.
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Old 19th October 2007, 03:46 PM   #17
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Ola,

as for slalom boards, my point is not much about higher/lower expected performances but rather about one make keeping one model and practically unnoticeably change it once, while another make throws 6 different models on the market in the same time to cover the same wind range.

I guess I can totally trust you when you say that both Evos and PAs are allround wave boards with mainly style suitability differences; nevertheless I wouldn't choose a PA for slow mushy holey onshore conditions, and I would hardly choose an Evo for pure side-sideoff down the line sailing. I am sure that SMcK uses Evos in classic conditions, and that KP brings PAs wherever all over the tour, but my abilities are quite a bit different, and as an (sub-)average sailor I'd rather use what basically helps me better. Unless it is not true that Evos do better/easier than PAs in onshore and PAs than Evos in classic down the line conditions.

As for different sizes... you are telling me that things may change from year to year and that a lineup may differ year to year, sizes be altered resulting in different ranges... This means to me that even sizes are a concern, you are confirming my thougths! Wouldn't it be logical then to define a model lineup properly and keep it that way through the years? Wouldn't this avoid possible purchase mistakes to those not continuously posting questions on the forum? My case again: buy the Evo 83 '06 to use it in lightish 5.8 to full5.0 winds; change (luckily I didn't) it for the 80 XTV, and discover it doesn't suit its 5.8 task as well any more. No, sorry Ola, I still think that at this point of evolution changes hardly are just for better; they often are adjustments in which you gain something on one side and loose something else on the other. And you always loose buyers' simpathy, as you make their quivers loose value quicker.
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Old 19th October 2007, 10:05 PM   #18
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Steve, Used market. Yes, it supports the sport, but for a brand, it is in fact important to keep used market value as high as possible. Both for brand image and for the fact that I think it is actually easier to sell a new board somebody if he can get a good price or his old one. But for beginners and people not so worried about having the latest stuff, lower use prices is better.

Geo: Your right about that for the less expert you are, the more sense it makes choosing EVO or Acid depending you conditions. How you phrase it: "what helps me better" is exactly how I see it. And for most people, an EVO will help more in "bad" conditions and a PA will help more in "good" conditions. But still the grey area s huge and very sailor dependent (not only level). One way of understanding why is that not all people do the same thing on the water and hence they might prefer to get help with different things, even in the same conditions. Some may like to get help with hitting the the lip easier (EVO) while another want to get help with finding more speed out the way out (PA or K).

Actually, I really don't se why you think the lineups are not "properly defined". Would you want them to be focused on just one type on conditions and one type of sailor? But then anybody that travels or even gets a variety of conditions at home, would need two different boards in very similar sizes to cope as well. As I said above, this is a possible track to take for a brand an some (most?) take that track. But to me, Starboards have for a very, very long time, long before I was sailing them, pushed the limits of the all round wave board. I think it is maybe Scotty quest. Even before the EVOs, the Acids (and before the surf, wild surf etc) had similar elements. The introduction of the EVOs meant two lines of wave boards which could allow themselves to get a bit more focused on certain things both but still very be all round.

To go back to the starting point, for me it s very strange to take the Starboard wave boards (particularly the EVOs) as examples of boards that are changing to much. I frankly don't know many, if any, wave boards that have stayed so true to their original shapes and concept as these boards which is kind of remarkable since they were a new concept when they came and are also rather special if you look at the market as a whole and how it has developed since. The 83 is maybe the only "exception" but that is also a very good board and as wrote above, it is still closer to the other EVOs than any other board so i the big picture, it is till very similar.

But I agree that when a board develops over time, there will always be slight shifts back and forth in "appearance" if nothing else simply because it is practically impossible to change one aspect of the ride without affecting others. So improvement is by definition also change even if we try ever so hard to keep the focus of the board. And as see it, one important part of performance it how well the board fit the group of customers. I think its more natural to try to evolve the boards to fit the customers than to hope for the customers to adjust to a "static board".

The argument about the that the level is so high now so that it is harder to improve is the type of argument that always will be and always has been true. I actually think that when boards and sailors get better, smaller improvements starts getting more important, so in this meaning it is as easy as ever to improve boards. And if we look back 10 years from now, no doubt boards will have improved a lot - and changed. Just as our current boards make a board from 97 feel weird dated if you go back to it now.


PS Geo: I'm not even sure you would find the E80 worse with a 5.8 and in any case the difference in pure 5.8 performance (planing and such things) is not that big even at your weight. And waveriding (also with a 5.8) will typically be better.
DS

Last edited by Ola_H; 19th October 2007 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 22nd October 2007, 10:48 PM   #19
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Another example. When I bought my S95 I discarded "brand x model y" because I wanted proven performance from #1 manufacturer, and the S95 was descending with slight changes from the glorious S100: easy choice, despite "brand x model y" was already there, with perfectly competitive (better?) performances. Now I am changing, and, guess what? There is a manufacturer, "brand x", that is still keeping his "model y" in production, with only very very slight shape changes and NO graphic changes, and it is still credited of extremely high performances, perfectly competitive (better!) to those of the last iSonics. Good for me, choosing is easy this time too.
Hi Geo

No need to be so mysterious here, I am interested to hear what exactly is XY model/brand? Especially the part about "competitive or better" than iS. As far as I'm concerned, iS is a huge change for the better (majority of average sailors seem to agree, too) compared to Sonics pre- 2006. Now I don't know if that change would've been here if *board only gradually/slightly changed the existing Sonic (as good as it was). Please don't get me wrong, I am not being defensive or anything, just curious of your thoughts/experiences.

Btw I agree with a lot of what you say, and I've found myself nearly frustrated with the gear changes sometimes (especially the early days of Formula). But when I look at the improvements made for the last decade or even less, I'm afraid it's the very nature of the industry and the sport. So I guess we'll have to live with it.
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Old 23rd October 2007, 12:48 AM   #20
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My best guess would be the CA 58.
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