The fantastic world of collapsible surfboards

April 30, 2014 | Surfing
Collapsible surfboards: a four piece model, the portability issue, and El Cocko's centerfold model

Collapsible surfboards, folding surfboards or travel surfboards. No matter how you name them, they will be very useful if you're a frequent surf traveler.

Yes, they're special. They've not been shaped the classic way, and they've serve a different goal. In a time when it's easier to travel by air, but airline companies are not surfer-friendly, a portable surfboard is always a genius idea. Think of how Lego and Meccano got popular.

Karl Pope and Thomas Price were the pioneers of portable surfing. In 1964, they registered the patent for the first ever collapsible surfboard, "characterized by its simplicity of construction and in its adaptability to economical manufacture". Pope later developed a commercial version named Bisect.

In 1966, Herman Bank, a JPL engineer, cut a surfboard into two pieces so that it would be easier to transport. The Multiboard, also known as the "suitcase surfboard", didn't find room in the surf shops.

The 1964 model by Karl Pope and Thomas Price: nice suitcase

The collapsible surfboard market is still building its structures in the conservative surf industry circuit. After all, how would you promote a surfboard than can be divided into many pieces?

Two purposes may be sufficiently appealing. Get a surfboard on a car trunk, or get a surfboard in an airplane. Still not convinced? Why don't you consider it as an exotic alternative addition to your quiver? They're light and offer adjustable flex.

Modeling and analysis (Pado, Schiel, Cole, Harvey and Dragoesi, 2012, University of California) of different cuts and shapes show that the ideal design consists of four sections connecting at 60 degrees.

C2 by Nicholas Notara: James Bond would love this portable surfboard

Nicholas Notara designed a black, carbon-fiber collapsible surfboard. Two pins and a quick release lever turn this five-fin setup beauty into half its size for easier transportation and storage. Notara's "C2", a concept model, has never seen the light of day, but it looked good.

Walden Surfboards develops four tri-fold models. The secret lies behind a steel cable, cedar wood and metal caps. They've been tested in the waves and do their job nicely.

Multiple Exchange Surfboards lets you choose a nose for your board, and then a specific tail design. That's it. Board ready.

If you're looking for a custom-built surfboard that break into two, three or four pieces, don't expect high performances. Portability and fun are the main ingredients. Say goodbye to excess baggage fees.

  • As the novel coronavirus Covid-19 nightmare comes to an end in China, local surfers are starting to get back to the beach.
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