– stripping surfing back down to its most elemental form

Biofoam project: the rocketfish

Biofoam RocketfishIn our last post we introduced our Biofoam project, ordering two boards from a local shaper out of components readily available through the companies that make these products. I just picked up the first board from the glass shop this past week and I’m stoked to share the specifics as well as some photos of the end result. The first of the two boards is a 6’0″ x 19 3/4″ x 2 1/4″ rocketfish to be used in Florida beach breaks. I got it set up as a quad since I already have this same shape as a thruster in EPS/epoxy. I didn’t see a need to have two of the exact boards, plus this will be a fun way to try out the quad vs. thruster on the same template.

The real benefit here is that this board was cut on the KKL machine from the same file as my others, so it should be as close to an apples to apples comparison as one can get. I know, some of you out there in internet-land are groaning about machine shapes, but the first few copies of this board were hand-shaped and ridden, then refined and once all the tweaks were dialled in Tom Neilson had the guys at KKL scan that board and now we have a finely tuned baseline board to work from. It really is amazing to change one variable at a time like this because you can feel the difference that one little nuance makes, in this case the only real difference is the quad fin setup and the fact that the board is made from a Biofoam blank instead of EPS. It has the same 6/6/6 epoxy glass job as my EPS board, so it will also be a good evaluation of durability.

Initial impressions:
The shape came out killer, no surprises there. Tom has this shaped dialled and it shows. The Biofoam blank is a sort of crème colour, very unique looking. Biofoam RocketfishIt almost looks like an old sun faded board, but you can tell there is something different going on under the glass. Sadly enough, selling these boards on the rack next to standard “white” boards would be the biggest hurdle for widespread acceptance of these blanks. Most surfers equate that white-ness with a fresh new board and aesthetics play a big role for the average off-the-rack buyer. At the same time there is a growing interest in the whole “sustainable” market so it could be used as a selling point as well, it clearly distinguishes them as being different and unique.

The reason I bring up aesthetics and shop sales is that as much as this is a project for us to personally try out new materials, these boards are also R&D for Tom to start offering Biofoam blanks as an option to his customers. This isn’t just a one-off experiment but more of an initial test-run to find any nuances or quirks in the production process or finished boards before offering it for sale to paying customers. In effect, we are willing to be the guinea pigs for Tom and give him feedback and test the products for him while at the same time underwriting the expenses for these boards. It’s a win-win situation and hopefully the end result will be people being able to request Biofoam blanks in place of the standard TDI petroleum based blanks as a standard option on his order form.

The only downside I see so far is that this board came out a bit heavy. Keep in mind this is all relative, as I’ve been riding a 2 lb. EPS/Epoxy rocketfish and a stringerless 1 lb. EPS board. Both of these boards are probably very far over on the lightness side of the weight scale while this board is probably more in the middle. Also, I asked for a 6/6/6 Epoxy glass job so it’s not a disposable board by any means. I talked to Ned about the weight of the board and he said they have been using 4/4/4 glass jobs with good results since the Biofoam blanks have shown 15-25% increased compression strength over leading blanks.

Lawless Model LamUnfortunately, here in Florida we are in the middle of the summer flat-spell so I haven’t even had a chance to wax the board up yet and try it out. Once I get a few sessions on it I’ll do an update as far as the ride qualities and my impressions.

Ricardo’s blank is in the shaping bay waiting for us to get everything organized. We are hoping to document the full process of that board and bring you photos and video of it being made from blank all the way through to final sanding. We’ll go into more detail about his 6’6″ once it’s shaped and we have some pictures for you.

We would like to give a huge thanks and much respect out to Ned and the crew at Home Blown for supplying the Biofoam blanks, to Tom Neilson for turning the blanks into reality and to Larry Pope and the guys at LP Glass for their rock-solid glass job.

• Category: board construction, environment,

3 Responses »

  1. Keep up the good work! This kind of dialogue is critical in helping affect change. Check out For a similar critique of my new Danny Hess board.

  2. Thanks Daniel. I had read your Hess review previously, I think Rob at 70% had linked to it. Good stuff. I ordered some Matunas wax, who are the people who make the GreenSurf wax. Good to hear that it’s comparable to the petroleum based wax. It’s been pretty flat here in Florida and haven’t done much surfing lately, unfortunately, so I haven’t had a chance to try it out. The new Biofoam board is getting a coating of it for sure, once I paint it.


  3. Sick shape! I personally wouldn’t call it a fish, but I’d sure as hell like to ride it. :D

    Can’t wait to hear the review!