Every year the Surf Industry holds an annual show in Orlando, Florida where all the major brands release their new boards, gear, clothing, shades, etc. It’s a huge candy store for grown ups. The board makers put in a HUGE effort to out do each other with new designs, crazy detail work, resin tints, super high end finishes, etc. This is where you want you product to look the best and sway new shops into carrying your gear, or existing dealers into buying more. It’s like a high-end car show for surfboards.
On top of all the insane boards, you can also meet the world’s most sought after shapers, tons of team riders and more professional bikini models than you can imagine. Please don’t be offended we said that. First off, we didn’t look and secondly, we’re just reporting what was going on, right?!
After we wrapped the show, Tommie (REAL’s GM) and I got up and listed our TOP Picks of Surf Expo. Here’s how it rolled out:
Endless Summer 50th Anniversary
The entire Surf Expo was themed around the 50th Anniversary of the Endless Summer Movie. From name badges, to floor mats, to door decals and bar sponsors, if it had to do with Surf Expo, it was presented with the 50th Anniversary of Endless Summer wrapped around it. Right as you entered the doors of show there was a impressive exhibit of all the original cameras, cases, POV water housings, suitcases, clothes, surfboards, newspaper clippings, etc all dating back to the early to mid 60’s.
The highlight of this celebration was the showing of the original Endless Summer film in a full sized theatre with over 300 people watching, narrated by Bruce Brown, Robert August, Mike Hynson and Wingnut. Listening to all four of these guys talk story on stage in front of the movie playing was a once in a lifetime, epic event. All time and without a doubt the coolest thing that Surf Expo has EVER put on in the history of the show (and our sport). Nice work everyone involved. This was an incredible event and cultural experience.
Robert August and his crew will be coming back to REAL in Cape Hatteras again this year to celebrate another Endless Summer Weekend May 23rd – 26th. This is one of, if not the most FUN events in surfing and you don’t have to be a pro, or even an intermediate to participate.
This section deserves its own Top 10, so in no particular order….
…Lost C3 Corks, …Lost Lucky Bastardized RVs, Bottom Feeders, Rockups and LayZboys plus a 4 board “Alice in Wonderland” mural across a quiver of V2Shortboards, Roberts Dreamcatcher, Roberts El Tormentor, Ricky Carroll HHPLB (Better to Big Wave Longboard), Triple Stringer Takayama DT1 Pintail, Takayama In the Pinks and roundtail In the Pinks, the new Takayama epoxy/bamboo composite longboards and SUPs, Hydroflex/EPS Maurice Cole Hipster (mine!), Hydroflex/EPS Maurice Cole Metro SUP (this was a total SHOW STOPPER), Maurice Cole/Hydroflex Kitesurf Boards, plus Hydroflex’s new waterproof, higher density EPC foam blanks which will result in stronger, lighter and “you don’t have to fix the dings” travel boards for those in the know.
New Board Brands at REAL:
Looks like we will be carrying three new board brands for 2014; Channel Islands, Firewire (the full lineup) and Rusty. If you’ve been perving on any of these and need a stick quick, give us a buzz and we’ll get the order going for you. Add these to the already incredible lineup of …Lost, Roberts, Stretch, Rawson, Takayama and Robert August and you have a POWER LINEUP with boards for everyone, surfing anywhere!
Meeting any of these guys individually would be the highlight of most surfer’s lives. Meeting all of them in one weekend kind of warps reality.
We went out to dinner with the …Lost team the first night of the show, including …Lost Co-Founders Matt Biolos and Mike Reola, as well as Steve Avery, Chris Todd, Maurice Cole, Rick Downs (marketing guru who does all the art), Maurice Cole plus Tommie and myself. Brazilian steakhouse…flip your card to green and the meat just keeps coming! Insane food, wine and conversations about just about everything from this year’s boards, to what’s gonna happen next year, to surf trips and side fun (other hobbies) having absolutely nothing to do with surfing (How these guys unplug). Three hours of non-stop tech, laughs, grilling and one-ups.
What happened the next night?! Dinner at Bahama Breeze with Robert Weiner of Roberts Surfboards and the madd scientists at Hydroflex. Nothing normal, boring, slow or heavy going on at those two tables!
Tommie and I finished off the show having a kicked back, pork taco lunch with shaping legends Maurice Cole and Pat Rawson. Imagine sitting in between these two guys while they give a dissertation on the modern 10’6 gun, how it should be shaped and of what it should be built from! …Everything from foam density to stringer wood choice, stringer thickness and number of stringers, tri or quad, plus bottom contour and weights. It’s an exploding part of the market with a good number of orders in the 8’6 up to 11’ range. Towing isn’t dead, but it’s all about paddling until it’s impossible, which looking at what these guys and girls are riding, is totally insane. So stoked to just sit back and hear all the tech, as well witness the conversation immediately switch over to kitesurf boards, which both of these guys shape and where they are going with these now. Both super cool guys, if you’ve met either you would agree. We gladly picked up the tab, knowing it was way cheaper than any education we have ever received.
One of our most popular (and best performing) large tri fins sets at REAL is the Futures Roberts template. Problem is that if you’re a mid weight, or you’re into quads, then you’ve been out of luck. For 2014, Roberts has released thru Futures fins a Medium and Large Tri Fin set as well as a Medium and Large 5-fin set. These should be in shops by Spring and will continue to enjoy a VERY enthusiastic following that will only grow now that the medium and 5-fin options are now available. Futures is also releasing an entirely new line of longboard fins this year with some really nice (and flexy) fins tied to the Robert August brand, as well as a collectable Robert August/Endless Summer 50th Anniversary D fin.
Dakine, Creatures and Prolite were showing all their new 2014 traction and …Lost unveiled their new traction line that compliments their boards (and others) with cool colors and tailor made, design appropriate outlines.
Big props to our ladies!
Lulu and Harmony were booked on the hour, every hour for 3 days straight filling the REAL Flagship Store with the coolest clothes, sandals, boardies, bikinis, sunglasses, watches, ….you name it. This is something that dudes just can’t do (and do so well!). As much as we’re tuned into boards and fins, these two girls are tuned into fashion, color and accessories. How busy were they? They were staying in the room right next to ours and we only saw them two times in three days…… The shop and selection is going to look UNBELIEVABLE this year when Spring rolls out!
That’s a wrap!
I’m sure we missed a bunch, but that’s a quick wrap on the show, the products and the sideline fun and functions. As usual, we scooped the best boards at the show and will be adding them to our website over the next several days. Our customers in the know are already picking off this list before it even makes it to our website, so if there’s something fresh you’re looking for, give us a call to get your name at the top of the list. There’s some CRAZY nice boards available right now!