Skunk Works sniffs out next-gen surfboards

Pictured eft to right: Mark Hutchinson, MD, Hutchinson Engineering, Ricky Martin, Skunk Works Surfboard Company, Richard Hutchinson operational director, Hutchinson Engineering and Chris Martin, Skunk Works Surfboard Company.
Hutchinson Engineering have collaborated with entrepreneurs Ricky and Chris Martin of The Skunk Works Surfboard Company, to design the next generation of surfboards.

The project is a departure from its usual client list of agricultural, material handling and recycling and aerospace.

The company was approached by the Portrush surf board producer, who worked with Ian Ferguson, Senior Design Engineer of H360.

Chris Martin explains, "It all started with a throw away comment – there must be a better way. In surfing, beginners' surf boards are made from foam. It's ideal as they are very buoyant and allow the beginner to catch the waves. The disadvantages are that they are extremely vulnerable to the elements where laminate peels away, polysterene snaggs; the bottom line is the durability isn't there and we wanted to change that.

"After months of research into foam and dealing with the inherent problems of surf boards we knew what we wanted to do. The difficulty was we were going to have to find a way of building our own tools first as nobody was doing what we really wanted to do.

"I have to say we were very lucky to have Hutchinson Engineering and their H360 team on our doorstep. They have occasionally challenged us pointing out what wouldn't work or asking us to look at things from a different perspective but not being an engineer actually helped as I've then went back with a different design and we got around the issue another way and with their assistance, of course.

As a result the surfboard company has custom-designed machinery. There is no glue or adhesives; hot air is used to make the boards. The company has a patent pending in the United States and a patent application is to be finalised in the UK and Europe.

Caroline Hayes

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