02.Epoxy or fibreglass
Epoxy boards have a plastic looking finish compared to traditional polyester (fibreglass) boards. Epoxy construction has been used in the windsurfer industry for several years and is becoming more common in the surfing industry.
Although professional surfers have ridden epoxy boards in competition, they are still primarily aimed at the beginner or recreational surfer, as well as older people wanting some help to get onto the wave.
The most significant difference between the molded epoxy boards that CHOICE tested and fibreglass boards is that you know that an epoxy board from a particular mould is exactly the same size shape and weight as the next one.
How is an epoxy board made?
An epoxy board starts with a light Styrofoam core which is sandwiched with high density foam sheets and reinforced with glass and epoxy resin. The board is then compression-moulded, creating a lightweight board with a hard outer shell. None of the mass produced epoxy surfboards are made in Australia, with countries such as Thailand working on a surfboard design created and shaped by a master shaper.
While it is possible to get custom-made epoxy boards, the labour involved makes it more expensive. Many professional surfers argue that the inability to have an expoxy board hand-tuned by an experienced shaper or sander is a disadvantage, but unless you’re getting ready to head out onto the world circuit this may not be a major issue to you.
How is a traditional fibreglass board made?
A polyurethane/polyester board or 'fibreglass' surfboard involves a significant amount of hand shaping in both the preparation of the core or polyurethane foam blank, as well as the final sanding to get the finished product.
The blank is shaped as far as possible to the board’s specifications and a piece of wood or stringer is incorporated into the middle of the blank for added stiffness and durability. The blank is then covered with a fibreglass cloth and laminated with polyester resin. The board is left for a period of time for the resin to set and finally the board is sanded to the final specification.