California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

What works and what doesn't. Share design ideas, references and contacts for paipo board builders.
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OG-AZN
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California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by OG-AZN » Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:02 pm

Bodypo inventor Dave Hahn gave me the opportunity to test ride some of his boards at OBSF this past weekend. The boards we picked for the test were both 42" long slimmed down bodyboard style shapes with max widths of 19.5". One board had a bat tail, the other a crescent. Bodypos have a distinct up kick in the nose, but are dead flat throughout the rest of the board. On land, both Bodypos showed some ability to flex, even with their hard fiberglass bottoms. Picking up the boards, they felt feather light compared to my 7+ lb plywood paipos, and only slightly heavier than a bodyboard.

Waves on the test days were about 1-3ft Hawaiian size, 3-6 ft faces mainland scale, with offshore to light & variable winds. Water temps were in the mid to upper 50's. Wave quality ranged from clean throwing A-frames to double up dumpers breaking with decent power, helped by the built up inside sandbars combined with an outgoing tide.

Paddling out, the increased buoyancy of a Bodypo over a traditional paipo was noticeable, but the extra buoyancy wasn't enough to float above the soup or allow arm paddling; at least for me at 5'10" and 175lbs. Just like a traditional paipo, hanging off the back of the board and kicking is the way to do it. Duck diving required slightly more effort than a plywood board, but it was still easy to get under and completely through hard breaking waves that would be difficult to clear on a surfboard or bodyboard. The cork rails were comfortable to grip, and the cork deck provided a wax-less no slip surface. The distinctive center hump on the deck of the Bodypo - an additional layer of cork for strength - was unnoticeable, at least under a 4/3 wetsuit. The center hump also provided an alternate hand hold when kick-paddling out. Once out the back and in smooth water, I found I could position myself as you would on a bodyboard and leg kick if I wanted to. Sitting on the Bodypo, the water came up to around bicep level. On a plywood board, the water would be up almost to my chin.

I lined up a nice looking set left for my first wave. I held the Bodypo out and kicked into the wave like on a traditional paipo; pulling myself forward and onto the board in a conventional bodyboard style riding position as soon as I was on the wave. Setting the rail and bottom turning felt smooth and effortless. The first section of the wave unexpectedly crumbled, but I was able to easily get around it and glide over a slow spot into the inside reform. The wave hollowed out and I was presented with a barreling end section. I tucked in briefly, then instinctively aimed for the lip and hit a clean roll, landing in the flats. Basic “Bodyboarding 101” stuff that I've done countless times on a conventional foam bodyboard, but not bad for a first run on a board made of CORK.

Although paddling and takeoffs are like a traditional paipo, riding the Bodypo feels closer to a bodyboard. Over 2 solid sessions of testing, it was clear that the Bodypo's composite cork - fiberglass construction was providing a beneficial flex & recoil action similar to foam bodyboard cores. The Bodypo is stiffer than a bodyboard, but it does flex; and that flex combined with the nose kick allows it to scoop into hollow waves and drive up to and off the lip in a more bodyboard like fashion compared to a flatter, stiffer plywood paipo. On one stand out A-frame, the wave sucked up hard and vertical on take off, but I was able to easily scoop into it and pull up the inside corner of the nose to flex the board and slot into the barrel just like on a bodyboard. That was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. During the course of the test sessions, I was able to pull forward and reverse spins, rolls, even rollo takeoffs, and snag a bunch of clean in and out barrels. I would have complete confidence taking the Bodypo out in larger surf, and I'm hoping to get the opportunity to do that soon. The Bodypo showed no signs of stress or over flexing in the closeouts or during the harder landings. I wanted to try some rides drop knee, but my rusty DK skills didn't allow it. The paipo take off into a DK stance is tricky, but it can be done. The only major critique I have is the max board width of 19.5”. I was told this is due to current limitations on the max width of cork sheets. The narrow width might be an issue for bigger riders, for DK, and in some wave conditions.

Overall, the Bodypo is just as advertised – a hybrid between a traditional paipo and a bodyboard, built from environmentally sustainable materials. The ride experience incorporates elements of both kinds of surf craft. It's truly a fun and functional wave riding vehicle, with loads of unexplored potential. I can easily imagine the future development possibilities of a cork – fiberglass composite board: different shapes, sizes, stand up versions, etc. I'd say Dave is definitely on to something with these boards. http://californiasurfcraft.com/products/bodypo

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by GeoffreyLevens » Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:54 am

Thanks, this is great. Detailed feedback from unbiased and skilled test rider in "real" waves.

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by bgreen » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:05 am

Trevor,

Thanks for the report. Are you still surfing the board?

Bob

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by OG-AZN » Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:37 pm

Not recently, but I will be soon :D Just made this from one of Dave's blanks - 44" x 19.5" x 5/8" at the rails; 17 1/8" at the tail , 60/40 bodyboard style rails, and just under 5lbs.
IMAG1583.jpg
IMAG1581.jpg
rail shaping
The shape is a cross between my favorite bodyboard and paipo. I left the board a little "oversized" to play with, and can trim it down if necessary. The Bodypo blank is incredibly easy to shape and finish. You could modify it on the beach if you wanted to. I cut the outline with a jigsaw and shaped with a rasp/file and sanding block in a couple hours. The board doesn't require any sealing finish. You can see how the blanks are laminated in the rail shaping pic. I'm curious as to how the bodyboard style rails will work. I put those on most of my ply paipos. All the Bodypos I've seen or ridden have the alaia style hard rail.

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by bgreen » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:43 pm

Hello Trevor,

The bottom had me intrigued. What's the thinking behind the elevated section?

Interesting feedback about how easy it is to work with.

Bob

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by GeoffreyLevens » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:45 pm

bgreen wrote:Hello Trevor,

The bottom had me intrigued. What's the thinking behind the elevated section?

Interesting feedback about how easy it is to work with.

Bob
The elevated part is on the deck for added rigidity/controlling the flex I think

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by OG-AZN » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:11 pm

GeoffreyLevens is correct. All the production boards and blanks have the same "dorsal hump", which is an additional layer of cork that was added to give strength and stiffness. I don't feel or notice the raised section with a wetsuit on.

I think you could plane it down gradually to add more flex if you wanted to. The boards I've ridden so far have more flex than the average ply paipo, but there seems to be a good balance between flex and strength. However, I've yet to try them in surf more than a foot or so overhead. "Summer" came early to the Bay Area this year, but at least it's been remarkably clean. It's usually blown out for weeks at this time of year. Going to test the board I shaped this weekend.
Last edited by OG-AZN on Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by GeoffreyLevens » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:18 am

Interesting to hear how if you can feel the different rail shape on that thin a board. What was rail shape on previous test ride?

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by OG-AZN » Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:57 pm

All the production boards and the customs I've seen so far have alaia style "hard" square rails. My experience is that rail shape performance is noticeable even on boards less than 1" thick. The square rail worked fine riding prone on a Bodypo, but I noticed the board rode really loose when kneeriding or dropkneeing. I was constantly having to stick my hand in the wave face for control. I don't have that issue with my ply paipos. The bodyboard style rails seem to give more bite into the face in those situations. A lot of the old skool paipos, including the first one I made back in middle school had "reverse" rails. Those were fast, but it was hard for me to spin and make quick direction changes with that style rail. At least for me, the bodyboard style rail shape works better on ply paipos. Will see tomorrow if that holds true for Bodypos.

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by GeoffreyLevens » Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:14 pm

How thick is the Bodypo? I got the impression they were only about 1/2" or a bit more? I do like rails that hold in really well but I have never been into spins etc. so breaking loose for me only is an issue when stuck too high and want to sideslip down out of trouble or just to bleed off a bit of speed.

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by OG-AZN » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:31 pm

The raised section is 1" thick, the rest of the board is 5/8".

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by GeoffreyLevens » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:36 pm

OG-AZN wrote:The raised section is 1" thick, the rest of the board is 5/8".
So rails 5/8".

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by bgreen » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:51 pm

What is the purpose of the raised section?

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by Poobah » Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:15 am

Dave's own words from a previous thread:

Similar to the last answer, the Bodypo flexes more than wood, but less than foam. The flex of the board is related to the thickness of the cork, the weight of the fiberglass and how much resin is used. The mechanics of composite design state that when a composite is made twice as thick, it becomes 8 times as stiff. My boards have a center dorsal "bump" on the top of the board - you can see this in all the photos. This bump has a few functions. It makes the board thicker and stiffer in the center. In that way it acts like a stringer, but because it covers a larger area it distributes the stiffness differently than a traditional stringer. (It also creates more float.)

Also check out the layering in the diagram on his FAQ page:


http://californiasurfcraft.com/pages/faqs

It might help if you think of the dorsal bump as a fiberglassed paipo inside the paipo. As I see it...a box beam structure stuck to a sandwich. It makes the board stiffer in the long direction, while still allowing flex at the rails and rear corners.

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by Poobah » Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:40 am

Internal and external stiffeners probably deserve their own thread, but it might be worth a brief mention here. I seem to recall that Turbo had a sponge with a fiberglass torsion box inside it. I was just trying to look it up, and I came across these stringers that look like a double ended paddle...interesting.
http://bodyboard-depot.com/blog/new-fou ... explained/
Somewhere in my personal files, I've got a PDF of an internal stiffener shaped like a sideways letter H. The idea being that you can pull up on one corner of the nose, and transfer some force to the opposite corner at the tail. If I find it, can we post a PDF in a thread?

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by rodndtube » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:44 pm

Poobah wrote:Snip Snip, to: If I find it, can we post a PDF in a thread?
You can upload a PDF to a thread, yes. Probably will have to click a link or an icon to open it.
Yes, it works... just a random PDF below.
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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by davehahn » Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:33 pm

Poobah wrote:It might help if you think of the dorsal bump as a fiberglassed paipo inside the paipo. As I see it...a box beam structure stuck to a sandwich. It makes the board stiffer in the long direction, while still allowing flex at the rails and rear corners.
Poobah is exactly right, although I hadn't thought of explaining it that succinctly. I made the first Bodypo with a 1/2" composite sandwich, but it wasn't stiff enough. I made the next sandwich 1" thick but it was too stiff. I feel like I'm telling the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. You see where I'm going here.

At the time, I was looking at the design on the VS parabolic sponges and that's what got me thinking about the dorsal bump. It doesn't have the same effect as the VS boards, though, so don't let me mislead you on that.

I thought about adding a traditional stringer to the Bodypo, but I wanted to add a more float, and stringer rods wouldn't help with that. I also think traditional stringer rods are kind of inefficient, which is why some boards need up to 3 stringers.

I tried a few different things with the dorsal bump, and eventually landed on the design we have now - a 9.5" x 36" fiberglass-encapsulated cork panel embedded inside the board. I use a lower density cork for the bump to save some weight.

It won't work to shave the bump down to get more flex, though. If you shave it down you'll quickly shave through the fiberglass, and it's all or nothing. Remember it's the fiberglass that makes this board stiff and durable, not the cork. The cork is there for buoyancy and to act as a spacer between the layers of fiberglass. Without the fiberglass, the cork wouldn't last a single session. It's a lot like the balsa inside a ski — it adds stiffness to the composite, but you'd never make a whole ski out of solid balsa.

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by Uncle Grumpy » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:10 pm

Got my Bodypo blank in the mail today. Nice pack job Dave.
Gonna have fun with this little slab.
I'm super busy the next couple weeks but as soon as I get around to knockin' the corners off I'll post up more pics and a ride report shortly after, time and tide allowing.


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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by flojo » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:55 pm

I picked up a blank from Dave on Monday morning went home, cut a bit of the corners off the front end ,left the rails parallel and just slightly softened their edges with sandpaper. I was in the water within an hour. Pretty cool. I found it easy to paddle and easy to duckdive. I liked having a little more floatation than my ply paipo. I have surfed it the last 3 days and am having fun with it. The waves have not been good-poor shape and mostly closeouts but in the little bit of facetime I have gotten, the bodypo feels fast and responsive. (The swell picked up today, and I took off on a pretty big closeout, straight down the face-the nose rocker worked really well and I sped way out in front of the whitewater-quite a bit further than I would have on a bodyboard or ply paipo-it felt really fast) I am fairly new to prone riding and have limited skills-I am looking forward to running into someone who has put more effort and knowledge into the shaping of their bodypo so that I can see the effects of a more sophisticated rail shape.

the cork provides great traction with no stick. Because it was bigger today, I used a leash but did not need it at all. It is easy to hang onto and duckdives so well, I suspect I will rarely need a leash.

Whats really cool is it can be modified at anytime-if I learn of a way to inprove the effectiveness of the rail, I can grind away on it and take it right back in the water-no sealer-no drying time.

I don't have the knowledge or expertise of someone like og-azn or uncle grumpy, but from my perspective, the bodypo is the real deal.

anyway, Thanks Dave-cool thing youre doing-

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Re: California Surfcraft Bodypo Review

Unread post by OG-AZN » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:41 am

^ That's the way to do it with these blanks if you want the traditional paipo style ride experience. I used a more bodyboard style shape on my first board, and not surprisingly,it rode very much like a bodyboard. I wanted a ride that was closer to my ply paipos and shaped this board, which I really like
IMAG1636.jpg
44X 19.5" @36", 11.5" at the nose; 18.5" at the tail.
I've had a couple good sessions on it already and it has the paipo style speed and glide I like. Had a really good run on a nice side wave last weekend. Funny thing is I've found a don't notice much difference putting rails on Bodypos. I put 60/40 bodyboard style rails on the first board and left the rails on the second board full & round. Seems to work the same, but the full rails obviously are more comfortable to grip.

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