I'm constantly amazed at the flak that Surftech boards get from many surfers, and up until a few days ago I thought it was all misplaced. I'm sure many of you have had the realization that I had a few days ago a long time ago, but hey, maybe I'm a little slow.
I really don't think that the animosity towards popouts has anything to do with the fact that they're not custom, nor the fact that they're made by asians overseas. Some people attribute the widespread hatred towards popouts to one of these things, but I think that the real reason that most of us are anti-surftech goes a little deeper than that.
It couldn't (justifiably) be due to the fact that popouts aren't custom boards. Sure, they're mass-produced, and not built for a specific surfer. But neither are any of the other boards on surf shop racks. If you want to base your animosity towards popouts on this foundation, you must also direct it towards stock boards from your local shaper.
It also has nothing to do with asians making them. There are many asian shapers who make great custom boards overseas, and don't receive the "dissing" that surftech gets. If your hostility towards popouts is based on the fact that they're made overseas, then you should also be directing your "dissing" towards Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, and Thai shapers.
I think that the disapproval most of us voice over the proliferation of popouts in the lineup is a result of the fact that they threaten many of the things we love about surfing. Surfing is more than just getting waves. It's the excitement of getting a custom board. It's the smell of polyester resin when you're fixing a ding. It's checking out your local shaper's new design. Need I go on? You all know that the reasons you love surfing go beyond the actual act of riding a wave.
Popouts strike at the heart of many of the things that we love about surfing. Boardbuilding is no longer a hands-on experience. It's done by non-surfers in a factory setting, instead of by someone who's passionate about surfing. Popouts rob surfers of many of the simple pleasures of surfing.
It's like taking the smell of freshly cut grass and hot dogs out of a baseball stadium would be to the baseball fan. Sure, you still get to watch a good baseball game, but it's not the same.
I could also compare it to telling a fisherman that he's only going to be able to go on guided fishing expeditions from now on, and only on specified lakes. Sure he still gets to fish, but it's just not the same.
Now, thankfully us surfers can "opt-out". Popouts are by no means the rule. But, they do have their place. I've had the same Santa Cruz surftech board for nearly two years, and I've only had to do two small repairs. It's the first board that I have been able to keep in good condition for more than one year. It's just so tough...you can't beat it in terms of durability. I am glad that I own it.
BUT...I still really enjoy browsing this Design Forum, and I intend to buy a custom board sometime in the next few months. I enjoy going into surf shops and looking over their stock shapes. Popouts will NEVER be able to replace the enjoyment I get from these things. Surftech does have its place, though.
Don't panic too much about surfboards going the way of the popout. There's just too much demand, and love, for the custom board. Custom shapers set the curve; they're the ones that are out trying new shapes, not Surftech.
And in some ways, Surftech has really pushed the custom shaper to do better. Many of us are no longer satisfied with the dismal durability record that pu/pe boards currently have. I think that epoxy pvc sandwich boards have really put some pressure on the custom shaper to advance in the materials he's using. We probably owe some thanks (not too much
) to Surftech for making the custom boards we love last longer than a few months.