New State of Surf is an exploration into how we can change the relationship between the surfer and their gear based on how the surfer moves, and the surfer’s relationship with the environment based on the materials that their gear is made of.


The above image has been created from personal surfing videos using the OpenPose model with a Tensorflow integration by Kim Ildoo. The OpenPose model is able to estimate the position of the joints of the body based on image solely. At the same time as recording the video, GPS and accelerometer data is recorded with the Trace device (image below left corresponds with video).

Creating video datasets of surf-moves of the surfer, the movement sensor datasets and also the forecast and/or buoy data should allow to start comparing different gear setups of board and fins in a more quantified manner than had previously been done. Of course, more controlled environments like wave gardens (image below) can keep the factor of the wave constant allowing for a better comparison, but each surf spot also has its own characteristics that favor different gear.


On the other end of the data collection is a prototype of a parametric fin design of which the parameters have to be related to the surfer’s case data input. Currently the fins are composed manually by adjusting the main characteristics: depth, base length, foil, sweep and cant. The design is based on a FCS fin design and the features area, sweep and depth are shown to compare. There is choice between a single, twin or tri fin setup and an FCS, Futures or Finbox system. Eventually, it should be questioned whether the dolphin fin design is really the best design or whether it just happened to become the industry standard.
For reference, this website provides a comprehensive overview: For selection of boards, Boardformula has created a selector tool based on weight, experience and type of wave.

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Some fin designs have been 3d-printed (with FDM) and tested but the stiffness lacks although it is questionable whether novice surfers will have a problem with this. Another approach within the project has been to create low-cost injection molded fins based on the Precious Plastic machines and using low-cost polymer/composite molds. The idea is to allow local surf communities to make these fins, adapt them to the local surf using the data and parametric design, and make them out of the plastic waste that pollutes their beaches. We have replicated this machine and shared our knowledge with the locals in Lima, Peru.