Design Focus: Ward Coffey’s Custom Paddle Board
My kids are involved in Lifesaving Sport and paddle boards are used at the competitions. My oldest, Ben, is on the USA team competing on an international level and needs to have the most competitive board possible. Ben is a lefty and a lot of boards don’t have lefty handles. We had a problem finding one to use in France last year for Worlds. It makes a big difference on how you start and sprint to the water. There have also been some design changes in boards in the past year or two, and I wanted to build a competitive board that addressed those changes.
HAND-BUILDING A PADDLEBOARD
I built a few about 15 years ago and I still have my hotwire and outline templates. However, there have been significant design improvements in recent years, so I needed to incorporate some new dimensions into the mix.
Block of EPS Foam: 11’ x 22” x 11”, 1.5 lbs. density
Finished Board: 10’6” Long x 12.75” Nose x 20” Wide x 14” Tail x 6.85” Thick
Besides needing the physical space, the first thing is being setup with a hotwire and having the knowledge of how to make profile templates. I had to make new templates for this project.
After that, getting the knee wells, foils, and rails to come together is pretty tricky. You have to hit certain numbers. You have to see it in your head, know where you want go, and stay on track. And that’s just the shaping part of it! After that, it’s putting in the high density foam inserts, glassing, and outfitting. You’re always stressing on the weight!
We also had a very tight timeline, only two weeks before West Coast Regionals, and then Nationals on the East coast the following week. We finished and tested the board the day before we headed down south, and pending the results would decide to ship back east. There where a lot of elements to pull together.
1st place: Nationals Paddle Race, Under 19
1st place: Regionals Paddle Race, Under 19
2nd place: Nationals Paddle Race, AA division
3rd place: Regionals Paddle Race, AA division
Part of the nature of being a designer is you always see opportunities for improvements. During the process, and after the completion, I had a list of things I already wanted to address. The main things would be to really just tweak the rocker, the deck rise out of the knee wells, and to get the weight down. Next time I’ll use 1lb density foam rather than 1.5lb foam.
Follow Ward Coffey @WardCoffeyShapes