At the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup Surfing competition, experienced surfer John John Florence has decided to ride a carbon Dark Arts Pyzel on his first day of competition, with no stringer. “The carbon does a lot of things; it controls the flex a little more because you don’t have a stringer down in the middle”, he said after winning the Round One heat.
A surfboard stringer is a thin strip of wood that runs from nose to tail down the center of the polyurethane foam blank. The center stringer adds stiffness and rigidity to the surfboard. This was introduced in surfboard design in 1958 to reduce the flexibility.
Despite reducing the flexibility of the board, it serves a bigger purpose. And this is because it adds strength to the polyurethane core structure, meaning the surfboard is more stable and easier to ride.
The function of this part of the surfboard is to make the board more rigid in order to prevent it from breaking or bending. In order to get a stinger, tougher materials are needed. This is why materials as wood are usually used for the center of the board.
The wood is usually 1/8 of an inch and can be whole or often we also find it combined by three woods glued together. In general, it is not common to see high performance PU and polyester resin boards without a stringer.
Stringerless models are becoming increasingly popular. Epoxy and Carbon Fiber boards often have a stringerless design. This enables more flexibility while moving. For professional surfers, this can help perform tricks better and get more points in their heat.
We will continue seeing stringerless competitions in the nautical world as more professionals choose flexibility over stableness.