What is Performance?
By Dylan Smith

Smith Board Co is on a mission to set the industry benchmark in an industry devoid of standardization while pushing it to new heights. The nuance of performance, from board design to rider experience, is complex. But put simply, performance can be defined as the relationship between three main aspects: speed, agility, and air. Let’s get into it. 

 

Improving performance starts with defining performance  

To categorically push wakesurf board performance, we needed first to understand how the industry defined and measured performance. From pros, fans, and surf shops, to scientific articles, board manufacturers, and ocean surfing, we found two common trends: every definition of performance was different and lacking in specificity. 

For example, beginners want stability and an easy way to stay in the wave without wobble. Pros want something that allows for quick movement, responsive tricks like jumping from standstill or  wave peaks, and rapid speed to prevent a fall off the back of the wave. But what does all of that mean - quantitatively speaking?

We set out to identify what wakesurf board performance metrics should be measured and the board features responsible for creating them. After months of research and testing, it is clear that performance comes down to three key measurements: achievable speed, agility, and vertical air. 

 

Performance = f(Speed, Agility, Air)


Speed

A board's speed encompasses how much its position changes in a certain amount of time. In technical terms, this is a measure of a board’s velocity, which defines the change in distance along a straight line and the change in direction. So, to measure a board’s speed, we have to determine both its linear velocity (straight-line (speed)) and its rotational velocity.

Linear velocity is the change in distance in the forward and backward x-direction, with the maximum linear velocity being measured as the linear velocity after starting from a static forward position and traveling forward along the wave for some standardized amount of time. A board with a higher linear velocity will carry more energy, allowing a rider to translate more energy into other movements. That means spinning faster, jumping higher, and getting more out of any trick.

Rotational velocity then is the change in the direction a board is pointing. If you look at the coordinate system to the right, this change encompasses how the direction the board is pointing changes between the x and y-axis. That’s the same thing as how the angle of the board changes. So, rotational velocity measures the change in the angle a board is pointing after starting from a static forward pointing direction, and rotating or spinning for some standardized amount of time. A board with a higher rotational velocity can spin quicker, so a rider can complete more spins and avoid falling farther back the wave as the rider spins.

 

Agility

A board’s agility measures how quickly and easily a board moves. How the board accelerates, and how that acceleration responds to input from the rider. A more agile board responds more to stimulus, starts quickly and efficiently, and changes direction in a responsive and controllable manner. It allows the rider to do the same things with less input. Similar to the speed of a board, the agility of a board encompasses both linear and rotational aspects. How quickly a board can accelerate backwards and forwards, how quickly a board can rotate, and the force input to achieve each.

Linear acceleration measures the time required to change from a static position to a standardized velocity in the forward x-direction. A higher linear acceleration provides greater freedom to move forward and backward no matter a rider's position in the wave. Board designs that facilitate high linear acceleration are particularly beneficial for beginners because they allow for wave stability. Shifting weight to a rider’s front foot will cause forward linear acceleration, while shifting weight to the back foot will cause backward linear acceleration. 

Linear translatable force measures how the linear acceleration changes with the rider's input of force in the forward or backward direction. A board with a low linear translatable force requires less input force to accelerate forward, giving the rider greater control over their forward and backward movement. By optimizing for linear translatable force, we can design a responsive board that requires less rider experience to build up speed.

Rotational acceleration measures the time a board takes to transition from a static forward facing position to a standardized rotational velocity. A board with a higher rotational acceleration will be able to change direction quickly, allowing the rider to make tighter, quicker turns and better initiate spins. Similar to the linear translatable force that measures the input needed to accelerate forward, the rotational translatable force measures how much force is required to initiate a rotation, and dictates the level of the control a rider has when changing direction. A board with a low rotational translatable force requires less hip turning and toe pressure to initiate a turn.

 

Air

The air of a board is a direct relationship between the amount of force required to initiate a jump and the achievable distance between the board and water surface. Static vertical distance measures the peak vertical z-distance achieved when initiating a jump from a stationary position (i.e. no forward movement on the wave). Air translatable force measures how much force the rider must input to achieve some static vertical distance. A board with a lower air translatable force is easier to jump with and, with the same amount of rider input, can achieve a higher vertical distance than a board with a higher air translatable force. Put simply: many maneuvers are only possible once the board is no longer in contact with the water. By maximizing the static vertical distance and minimizing the static translatable force, Smith Board Co boards allow for performance and tricks to be more accessible to beginner and amateur riders. 


To sum it all up

While the individual components of performance each hold their own importance, the magic is found within their combination. With a focus on novel design features that impact speed, agility, and air, Smith Board Co’s board design innovations are poised to open the door for a new level of extreme tricks and accessible riding.