This article is the second installment in a three-part series examining the durability of boards in the stand up paddling industry. The opening article, “How Tough Should a Stand Up Paddleboard Be?” was published on June 9, 2016.
James Hedgecock is the founder of Bounce SUP, which is a subdivision of the company Bounce Composites. Bounce has become well-known in the SUP community during the last few years for its high-durability boards that are almost unbreakable during normal use. James kindly spoke to me from his company in California about the beginnings of his company as well as where it’s heading.
James was a product developer and then product manager of a company that made hot tubs. During this time, James began a special project in making indestructible surfboards. After the crash of 2008, hot tub sales plummeted. When the spa business finally sold to another owner, James went into partnership with his former employer to form Bounce Composites. Soon afterwards his company had come up with some tough materials which Bounce used for their first SUP, the B1 Bomber for Surftech. This 10’6” was famously one of the first truly impact-resistant traditional paddleboards.
In the Beginning
Yet Bounce SUP wasn’t content to make boards for other companies. Soon afterwards, using shapes from Surftech, they began manufacturing their own line of sturdy boards, weaving a fiberglass mesh to a plastic base. Right now they have three basic models, 10’6” and 11’ all-arounds and a 11’4” flatwater board. These boards have become very popular with beginners and rental fleets, high-volume areas where Bounce is specializing.
The company’s family-friendly focus even extended to their durability testing, where they threw Bounce boards into a concrete swimming pool and let families and their children jump on, dive off, bump and crash their boards. Of course, the boards passed the test with flying colors. These boards don’t just take an impact, hits literally bounce off. (Yes, that is where the name comes from.)
While many of us experienced SUPers might want larger or smaller boards, the process of creating the specialized molds is very expensive, too expensive for a low-volume race board or high-performance surf model. However, performance enthusiasts should not lose hope. The company is also experimenting with 3D printing and may soon be able to create custom or small run specialized designs. Bounce has even been able to reduce the weight of their boards because of the strength of the materials by omitting the foam core. These hollow flatwater models are being seen on the whitewater circuit where maneuverability and durability are critical. The lighter boards also add to durability because they have less momentum on an impact, and if the hull itself is strong enough to take a hit, then the core is optional (Of course, in the case of a breach, the hull is drainable and repairable.) That said, experienced riders shouldn’t turn their nose up at a Bounce board in their quiver. These make excellent family boards, especially considering you won’t have to worry about every bump and ding.
Bounce SUP’s Manufacturing Edge
Unlike most SUP companies, manufacturing is one of Bounce’s strengths. Every one of their boards is proudly built in America. As well, Bounce is building in California, which has some of the toughest environmental standards in the country. This gives Bounce some serious bragging rights; unfortunately, most paddleboards are manufactured in Asia. This means that not only are the Bounce boards being created responsibly, but they are also are providing jobs for the much diminished manufacturing sector of the economy. As well, Bounce is branching off into other areas of manufacturing, making not only small wind turbine blades and drone parts, but a whole different kind of paddle — ping pong paddles!
If you’re looking for a durable SUP, especially if you want an all-around board or a smaller flatwater board, consider a Bounce SUP. You might be surprised at the level of features; with a GoPro mount, LiftSUP handle, and Futures fin, these boards are a step up from your basic beginner board. No wonder these are popular with rental fleets. And keep an eye out too for what Bounce has coming in the future. This company has some more SUP tricks up its sleeve.
The third installment in Ian Berger’s three-part series examining board durability is set to cover the Pau Hana Big EZ Ricochet and will be published on Sunday, July 17.