Jumping on boards with Bert Burger!

Stu Nettle
Design Outline

Recently the smoothly curated Sunova Surfboards Instagram feed was invaded by two heathens hell bent on destruction. Bert Burger, a purveyor of plus-sized clothes and the owner of Sunova surfboards was joined by the mallet-wielding Martin Jandke, one of Bert's partners in the company. Together they demonstrated the durability of the soon-to-be-released Suns Surfboards, a label started by Bert's son Dylan.

See the video below, and under that is a short interview with straight-talking Bert about the boards in question:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sunova Surfboards (@sunova_surfboards) on

Swellnet: Are these boards coming out under the Sunova label?
Bert Burger: No chance. A Sunova says Ferrari, Rolls Royce, it's the best surfboard money can buy. No way I would put my label on cheap shit. Now, I'm not saying the boards are shit, but it's a price point and a demographic that just doesnt match with our reputation for strength and performance. Sunova made its name with high end craftsmanship, advanced composite construction, and a classic wood look that performs unbelievably well. That's our niche and I dont want to devalue it.

So why these boards..?
Over the years I've done so much R&D and developed a range of really viable marketable products, but I'd always struggled with what and how to brand them. Firewire got one good technology from me: the original FST construction is a good viable product, but it was never something I wanted to put my Sunova label on.

When my son Dylan expressed interest in creating a label, called SUNS, and he told me roughly what price point he wanted to start with to cut his teeth, I was thinking, 'Here's a perfect place to finally apply all that R&D!'

Anyway, what use is your Dad if you cant press him for a little knowledge and wisdom...?

I've always believed, that regardless of what price point your operating in, you have to represent great value, so the price of these boards will represent amazing value when you compare them to what everyone else if offering for the same money.

They look pretty sturdy in the video. How many layers of glass are laid down? What's the lay up secret..? 
OK, OK...I'm not giving away the eleven secret herbs and spices here. It's an EPS core, epoxy resin, fibreglass, wrapped in a secret sandwich.

Have you broken any yet? 
We have seriously been trying. Almost two years ago we released this technology in SUP, so we've had them on the market for a while. It was an unknown back then. We gave a bunch of SUPs to a local board hire and rental place, so for years now I'm watching these boards get so much abuse everyday...honestly, people who dont surf have no idea how to treat surf equipment! I was watching our boards get treated like a plastic kayak, but I remained silent because I wanted to see what they could take.

And..?
I'm really happy with their durability. There is no doubt that the strongest and lightest stuff around is built using the concept of sandwich construction. That's where you have a double glass job either side of some sandwich medium in between. For example, Firewire FST construction, Surftech Tufflite, and our Sunova boards too, which are fiberglass and resin either side of a balsa sandwich medium, over a lightweight EPS core, and of course dont forget that parabolic rail.

They all use an engineering principal, like the H or I beams, the further apart you can get the load bearing skins, the more structure and strength you get.

The downside, however, to this construction is the price. You have an expensive list of raw materials, you are using twice as much glass, crazy amounts of extra labor, way more production infrastructure is needed, as well as space 'cos a board takes longer to build. If I was still building boards in Australia with this method, I'd be charging AUD $1,800 plus for a shortboard. Making them in Asia means you can compete price-wise and offer better tech at a competitive price.

Well, we have come up with a technique that gives us sandwich construction principles at a crazy affordable price...

In an earlier conversation you said you're not making any grand claims on flex or performance, but could this construction method lend itself to high performance surfing? 
Within reason. When we first hit the market we were aiming for 'bullet proof', and coming in about about 12 to 15%  heavier than disposable PU boards. But while we were R&Ding the final layup and methods, we came up with some stuff that was a full 20% lighter than disposable PU - like crazy light and strong!

Thing is, it just didnt make sense to hit the market with something so good for the price. The lighter version will come later, with a different look and a little better tech, but there is no reason why they won't perform as good as any other stringerless EPS epoxy shape and glass. So if anyone out there claims performance from hand laid EPS and epoxy, then I suppose we would claim it too.

I dont think people realise how well a board can go when it has serious tech built into it and a parabolic rail. I personally call bullshit on claims of radically better performance when your using the same materials as everyone else.

Sounds like there's more products to come.
Definitely some more products, and different constructions, coming. Release number three will be a parabolic rail with a cool new foam made from recycled coke bottles.

This is all so kids coming in at entry level will have something to look forward to as future techs get released.

Stay tuned then..?
Stay tuned.

Comments

boxright's picture
boxright's picture
boxright commented Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 at 1:12pm

Love my sunova. Love ya Bert!

the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2 commented Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 at 1:20pm

Bert is the full West Aussie entrepreneur hey. He's a classic case of a kid with a head full of ideas working outside the established industry and just steaming along doing things his way. Always has, except he's not a kid anymore!

daisy duke kahanamoku's picture
daisy duke kahanamoku's picture
daisy duke kaha... commented Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 at 1:53pm

No, Bert isn't giving the secret herbs and spices away, he's been saving all that KFC for himself.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 10:53am

LOL!

balsaboardsnz's picture
balsaboardsnz's picture
balsaboardsnz commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 1:51pm

haha he'll laugh at that..

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 at 3:05pm

ha, bert seems a character.
i've become eps curious. any one know of kneelo shapers in oz using eps? the dust boards from south africa look great.

surfer1971's picture
surfer1971's picture
surfer1971 commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 5:03am

Parksy is doing EPS for a heap of crew

spiggy topes's picture
spiggy topes's picture
spiggy topes commented Sunday, 3 Mar 2019 at 9:43pm

Alan Bruce Native Kneeboards. EPS with any number of exotic cloths - carbon, innegra, basalt, kevlar etc etc. All glassed by Modek (Peter "Mo" Moschogianis) without doubt one of the very best glassers on the coast with over 50 years experience. I've got a 6'6" Hawaiian gun eps/carbon which is a strong, subtle and achingly beautiful big wave board. Al's not a bad shaper either!

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 at 3:16pm

Nee Pro do
Dave Parkes or Zak ?

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 at 3:11pm

i had no idea dave does eps. excellent. thanks udo.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 at 8:29pm

the old jumping on the board trick.

Think Bob Mctavish was the first with the Pro Circuit boards.

blower's picture
blower's picture
blower commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 3:15pm

another exponent of the trick....Bill Barnfield flex mid/late 80's Surfing World, North Shore on Greenys' Pipe board. Love it!

gcuts's picture
gcuts's picture
gcuts commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 7:36am

Exactly Freeride.

FFS, grab ya standard PU/PE board and do the same!

Watch it spring back.

Oldest con in surfing.

EDIT: Sorry no disrespect to Bert, he's a forward thinking innovator.

jez's picture
jez's picture
jez commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 8:53am

I only buy epoxy boards now. Mine are stronger because you can use a 6x4x6 layup with a stringer and carbon strip and still achieve similar weight to a PU board with 4x4x4 layup. You obviously lose flex and you can feel it on bottom turns. Its definitely a compromise, but I have gone from snapping standard glass PU boards on the first surf or if I am lucky within a few months, to not having snapped a board in 3 years. Its nice not looking towards your board after every heavy wipeout wondering if its snapped...

Jezdawg

balsaboardsnz's picture
balsaboardsnz's picture
balsaboardsnz commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 1:53pm

good interview too

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 2:41pm

Im a fan of a good EPS/Epoxy board and been riding mostly EPS/Epoxy composites for about ten years now, but IMHO the test is a bit of hoax if your game you can do that with most boards.

Also durability and resistance to snapping is two different things.

Yes EPS/Epoxy composites are much more durable, but in my experience and what I've seen, i dont think they offer much more or any in resistance to snapping, and like any boards can snap in conditions you would not expect the board to snap in, and hold up in times when your sure your board should snap.

Personally id love to see an independent test on durability and resistance to snapping etc over a range of brands and constructions compared to a few standard PU/PE boards, a scientific myth buster type approach.

I think i have a crush on Debra Soh.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 2:42pm

There's a professor at Wollongong Uni doing exactly that.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 2:43pm

awesome

I think i have a crush on Debra Soh.

crustylapel's picture
crustylapel's picture
crustylapel commented Monday, 4 Mar 2019 at 9:07pm

Was there an interview with that Professor somewhere? I might be tripping but I thought I read something about him, was that on this site or somewhere else?

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 2:45pm

BTW. I saw on Greg Weebbers Facebook today he was also doing some similar test on some special EPS blank

Edit also on his instragam https://www.instagram.com/p/BuZZV-On5bQ/

I think i have a crush on Debra Soh.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 5:36pm
freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 5:39pm

I haven't snapped a pu/pe for ages.

what I have noticed is the construction of stock pu/pe's especially from some glass houses is way more durable than it used to be.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 8:55pm

Not sure what labels you guys are talking about?, but i got a lost PU/PE Lost a while back and it's no better than normal and i watch my mates plow through boards one after another JS's, Supers etc one mate got a Bonzer and took it back after one surf because it was already falling to bits, they didn't do anything about it though..basically said it is what it is..cant remember what label, one of those Goldie labels.

I think i have a crush on Debra Soh.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 7:55am

First surf in Hawaii, January 2018, straight off the plane to Outside Pu'ena Point where it's 8'-10' and Sarlo is sitting on the tip riding a big Bushman, I get caught inside and lose my board to the rocks. It suffers ten minutes of back and forth on sharp limestone before I can swim in and run back out to retrieve it.

Damage everywhere but it's still in one piece, so I'm semi-relieved, but as Josh Skipp - son of Gong shaping pioneer John Skipp - says, "Stu, there's some damage through the laps, I'd get those fixed before riding it."

Typically, I ignore his sage advice and end up with a two for one, broken right through the lap damage Josh pointed out.

More recently I've been hanging out at The Glass Hut at North Gong and soaking up info about the art of laminating. It might be invisble to the punter but there's a lot going on with laps, weave, and angles.

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 3:22pm

Must've been a fun swim in, Stu. Plenty of current out there, not to mention the chocolate water.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 3:26pm

Worse thing was having to swim past it and watch the belting it was getting, I just couldn't safely get onto the rocks. Twenty more metres and it would've rounded that outcrop and simply drifted down towards the beachpark.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 5:24pm

@ Stu net,
Pp a favorite of mine....
Holds really big....
Surfed out there once on a big west swell. The whole reef did the big step suck out thought I was going to dry dock.......ahhhhh.....
Plenty of tigers. Plenty of crazy locals. Used to ride my bike there board under arm from logs lol....

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 5:23pm

@ freeride76
Sounds like you have been watching to much Morning of the earth and no where near enough of wave warriors 4 !

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 5:57pm

Got to agree, quality especially from the big guys lost and js etc is first class and strong as.

simba

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 6:23pm

Yeah I second that. My lost Boards both PU and PE have stood up well and I dont baby boards at all.

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 6:55pm

JS strong?
Are you kidding. I've snapped / creased three of the fuckers in the last 12 months and am over them. One was in heavy waves so fair enough, but the other two snaps were just silly.
I just hope these boards in the video ride OK.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 7:47am

Are there JS boards coming out of Vic or they all come down from the Goldy?

I'm not judging them as I've never surfed a JS.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 7:12pm

I used to snap a couple of boards a year on average. I haven't snapped a board for four years now. I think the reason may be that I'm surfing much shorter boards now. The shortboards I'm surfing these days are between 5'6" and 5'9" as opposed to the 6'2"s I was mostly riding beforehand. PU blanks, PE resin. 4 - 4+4 with a tail patch.

Yeah, so the bottom line is I reckon shorter boards may be harder to snap.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 8:59pm

Good point shorter, wider, thicker boards would be less likely to snap than narrow, longer, thinner boards...and in that 90s phase when boards were like that i remember quite a few boards getting snapped..makes sense.

I think i have a crush on Debra Soh.

ron's picture
ron's picture
ron commented Thursday, 28 Feb 2019 at 9:17pm

Curious what dims everyone surfs that snaps allot of boards? The bulk of snapped boards i see are smaller sizes which makes sense. I am usually on 21/2- 25/8 and rarely snap one through the middle, tends to be noses mostly.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 7:45am

Longer but narrow and thin more likely to snap than short narrow thin.
So todays standard 5'10, 19, 2 3/8 made the same as the 2000s style 6'2 18 1/2 2 1/4 would be less prone to snapping.

Edit. Whoops. Pretty much repeated what Indo and spud said above.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 9:06am

I'm surfing rocky points 75-80% of the time , v. hard on boards.

Last 2 stock pu/pe's were a Pyzel Ghost and a Lost Sabotaj. Both from the same Gold Coast glasshouse.

Both pretty much bullet proof.

Ghost is a year ands half old and it's barely got a deck dent on it.

Sabotaj is 6months and is the same.

My FW Cymatic in LFT has more dents in it.

Thats just my experience. I don't baby boards.

edit: if the machine cut is accurate and doesn't go too deep into the blank and the lamination is well done then the boards are heaps more durable.

Last snapped board was a 7'0" bonzer about 8 years ago.

blower's picture
blower's picture
blower commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 4:17pm

The last edit bit freeride mentions about blanks being as important as the layup.... a bit more to add... and with respect to PU blanks that most boards are cut from.

Most shapers these days work with blank suppliers to blow a blank to suit the various models they offer (or vice versa - model to blank - yes, shapers do compromise their designs). Wastage costs need to be kept to a minimum and as mentioned by freeride, the old adage of not cutting too deep into the blank deck has always been the case for durability (machine cut or planer). Deck impressions / snaps aren't all about lamination materials/techniques and have sadly become accepted, albeit begrudgingly.

However, durability starts with the blowing of the blank itself and of course transpires throughout production in conjunction with the lamination.

When blowing the blank, the setup of the mould, mixing/pour method and climate all effect the density of the blank at its various cross sections as the foam expands inside the mould. Densities are varied, but in general the higher densities occur at the outer skin if the correct mix and volume of expanding foam are utilised with desirable climate conditions.
Taken into account, all these factors are the basis that is sometimes passed over by many when seeking durability mainly through the lamination process - materials and or techniques.

ps.

I do understand EPS is a bit of a different kettle of fish as the name Expanded PolyStyrene suggests, the little round balls of foam are a constant density structure throughout the blank and so the stringer(Y or N), lamination and its added constituents are all extremely important to durability - so in some sense the comparison of EPS - PU is difficult, blank durability wise.

pps. as many have found, durability can also suffer with differing lengths of the same model surfboard. This can be attributed to using the same blank as the model dimensions enlarge or decrease from the prototype dimensions. Using the same 'suitable' blank when setting up the model design in the blank file gets to a point where it just won't fit (big or small) without sitting the file low in the blank or really forward to allow the cut to keep the deck under the feet area in the higher density skin area... fuck - that's enough.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 6:08pm

Onya Blower. Good post.

blower's picture
blower's picture
blower commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 8:00pm

Remember your visit to Corey's setup a while back Stu, from start to finish it all adds to the durability of the final product. I find the AKU machining incredibly mesmerising (the only cutter/program I have experience with) but have an appreciation of the entire manufacturing process and its constituent materials.
Itchy is a master with that machine.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 5:58pm

thanks Blower, that was really interesting.

blower's picture
blower's picture
blower commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 7:23pm

Sorry for the long winded affair but I have often wondered if the blank was taken into account much at all and felt this was the first time I could add some insight to the overall process. Glad to contribute.

Thisisgreat's picture
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Thisisgreat commented Friday, 1 Mar 2019 at 6:04pm

Even Christian Fletcher tested them :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiAPDxbRaYk

spiggy topes's picture
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spiggy topes commented Sunday, 3 Mar 2019 at 10:39pm

Got a Murray Bourton custom kneeboard eps epoxy glass by Matt at Black Sheep. Flawless shape, a couple of dents after three years (from me headbutting it), one of the best boards I've ever owned from one of the best boardmakers in Australia. Muzz claimed he knew "f---all" about kneeboards but still delivered something very special, and the glass is every bit as good. Getting a sun tan on the nose but a carbon patch through the centre prevents any knee dents and added strength where it was needed. There's no substitute for experience and quality workmanship. My 26yo son has broken at least 10 boards (including a Firewire step up killed at Ulu) but now he owns Bourtons (thanks for the tip dad) he hasn't broken one - from Morocco to Taiwan via Indo and many other places is a lot of air miles for boards but the Bourtons have survived it all ... aided by great glassing.

chook's picture
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chook commented Monday, 4 Mar 2019 at 1:20pm

thanks spiggy -- those Native kneeboards look incredible.