He came up with a simple solution based on a simple engineering theory that changed everything. “I found that if you flip that single channel over and create a convex… just like if you have a retractable steel tape measure; if it was flat, it would be flimsy, but as soon as you add a convex,” he said, “you now exponentially increase not only the strength to weight, but the flex and recoil.”
One of the benefits of a stringerless board is the dramatic decrease in weight. That can, however, also be a downfall. “Incorporating that [stringerless technology] into the board and laminating with carbon fiber… the result is a board that you can make almost too light.” Though light, according to Dane, they hold up to pretty powerful conditions. “My good friend Marty Allen just returned from Oz where he surfed a convex engineered model for nearly three months in daily six-foot to overhead conditions. It took massive abuse without issue.”
Because of the lack of a stringer, Vulcan surfboards have a very different flex. While a board with a stringer flexes mainly as one entity, a stringerless board has the capability to flex freely on different parts of the board at different times. “The point load area is greatest on your front foot where we design the convex structure widest and deepest,” he said. “Then where the convex feature tapers towards the nose and tail, those areas can flex more independently. It’s a very dynamic flex, where if you have a stringer, it’s the same difference all the way through; it’s more static.”“You can make them absurdly light, but they also have loads and loads of structural integrity.” He’s come up with a solution for that lightness, though: “We compensate for that with a heavier glassing schedule. That way you can have more drive in really heavy offshore conditions,” he explained.
Last year, Dane’s creation caught the international eye. At the Boardroom International Show, a tradeshow that emphasizes the importance of the varieties of different wave riding crafts, Dane won the coveted Best Shortboard Design award out of a crew of internationally renowned shapers. That’s no small feat, considering that the Boardroom’s host of winners include legends like Simon Anderson, Matt Biolos, Dick Brewer, Wayne Rich, and of course, Ricky Carroll. In 2013, he brought his idea to Hydroflex, a company that builds a resin shell that’s lighter and stronger than standard glassing made from polyester resin.
“They were totally psyched on it,” Dane said, the excitement apparent in his voice. “They were going to be exhibiting at the Boardroom International, and they wanted to enter it into the Best of Show.”
Because surfboard technology and design is an ever-changing animal, there is always room for something new. That’s part of the fun – the idea that there is always something else out there to try. Having a varying quiver in the garage isn’t just something that incredibly diverse surfers like Ryan Burch or Cyrus Sutton are taking advantage of anymore. More and more of the everyday surfer are moving away from the shortboard vs. longboard mentality and coming into a new era of discovery: fishes, asymmetrical shapes, and surf mats are becoming decidedly more prevalent in lineups around the world. But with the vastly different performance of equipment built to accommodate almost exclusively wave type, cross-over can be difficult. “You need something to fill that gap in your quiver,” said Dane. “The thing about fishes is that, while they’re really fun, they can really spoil your shortboarding. It’s kind of a bummer, because you can be surfing average conditions on your fish, and you get spoiled. Then the swell picks up, and you’re out of tune on your regular shortboard. This is a board [using the convex technology] that you’ll get a really good wave count on, but you’ll still stay in tune. You’ll still transition back to your shorty without missing a beat.”
So while many remain mired in the belief that surfing has something to do with some kind of foggy fashion where what you’re riding defines what kind of surfer you are, men like Dane Hantz are creating designs that are built strictly around the vast majority of the surfing community’s main objective: not money or contest wins, but plain, simple, unequivocal fun. Because after all, that’s the name of the game, isn’t it?
See more of Dane’s innovative shapes at Vulcan Custom Surfboards