Sunday October 2, 2011
The next design iteration of the SIMSUP series is complete and the file's been emailed to the cutters. There are now three in the series: The Original SIMSUP; SimmyD (for Deuce as in #2); and the obvious next step, Simmy3. Each new board has yielded an increase in performance and a step forward in reaching the goal of creating a better board than the last board. The truth too though, is that each board is really an excellent stand alone SUP in it's own right.
The original SIMSUP was an idea I had after researching hull shapes and surfing craft that could provide speed and maneuverability in combination with stability. Stability could only be achieved by using a wider outline, but this usually at the expense of performance. Studying the early Simmons boards and the Baugess "mini-Simmons" boards, along with paipo boards which have been around since the beginning of surfing made me wonder if a SUP could be crafted using similar dimensions which would deliver what I was looking for: speed; stability and performance.
In collaboration with L41 shaper Kirk McGinty, the original SIMSUP was born. No SUP like it had ever been made so we didn't really know if it would work. This first SIMSUP was really all about plan shape. Would the paipo like, Bob Simmons inspired hull work on a short, 8 foot SUP? In spite of it's weight (resultant from it's overbuilt glassing schedule) the board was a huge success. It worked! The most important combination of criteria had been achieved, high performance maneuverability and stability.
After a number of months surfing the SIMSUP, I was anxious to move forward with the next version, SimmyD. Where could we take this design? How far could we move up the performance aspect of the board, and still maintain stability? We speculated that we could tweak the board in a couple ways and make improvements. One was weight. A lighter board would be more maneuverable, but would it lose drive and speed on down-the-line speed runs? I vacillated with this question, unable to decide between vacuum bagging or a conventional epoxy glassing schedule. In the end I took the half-step and went with a new and improved SUP glassing schedule Kirk's glassers had come up with. Materials were a consideration too. Instead of using two lb. eps, we went with one pound stringerless eps. The weight savings was substantial at four pounds. Kirk gave the design an update by adding more vee in the bottom and creating K-rails (s-rails) in order to reduce rail volume, making the board more hydrodynamic and more flexible transitioning rail-to-rail. Total volume shrunk by three liters (127L), an acceptably timid downsizing in my book. SimmyD was a major leap forward in performance with only a small loss in overall stability. Turning moved from a bit sluggish with the SIMSUP to quick and responsive with SimmyD. Perhaps most noticeable was the ability to slash turnbacks and re-entries. 180 degree hacks were no problem.
The primary volume savings was achieved with the k-rails which enhanced performance. There was though, some cost in stability. The reality is that there is always some cost in stability when you go smaller on a SUP. But the idea is to minimize the loss and maximize the gain. With reduced flotation at the rails, SimmyD is a bit more tippy than the SIMSUP, but the performance gains far outweigh the loss in stability which has been easy to overcome with time spent on the board. It's amazing what open mindedness, enthusiasm, commitment and adjustments in technique can achieve.
Simmy3 is what SimmyD could have been had I been a little braver. Being conservative by nature, I am most comfortable with small steps instead of recklessly gambling with a big leap. But who knows what we'll learn once Simmy3 is in the water? We've continued our fine tuning efforts by adding in several more performance characteristics and going even lighter. This time around we'll vacuum bag in an effort to achieve the lightest and most durable fiberglass shell available. We're pulling out another two liters of volume (125L for SimmyD) via the double winger tail re-design. Each wing will take off 1/2 inch, but total width at the tail block is only one inch less than the original plan shape. Again we're hoping this has minimal impact on stability, but prompts another maximum gain in performance. Kirk has also designed in a tad more vee in the tail, making it even easier to roll the board over on rail. I'm now convinced that the lighter in weight a board can be, the better it will paddle and surf. Simmy3 will forgo the conventional SUP deck pad in favor of a surfboard-like waxed surface. This board should then be "state of the art" in weight savings re conventional production.
Creating the SIMSUP and fine tuning the design in versions 2 and 3 has been exciting and fun. It's also satisfying to imagine something, then see it become reality. I would urge anyone who wants to give this board a try to contact me and we'll set something up. If you like it half as much as I do, you'll love it.