VI – SMH
Surfwear pioneers not short of ideas
February 6, 2012 – 1:03PM
When Kelly Slater stormed to his history-making 11th world surfing title late last year, a team of scientists at Deakin University in Geelong were watching intently and taking notes.
And not just because of the 39-year-old’s unrivalled mastery of the surf.
Slater had paddled out for his heat in the 2011 ASP World Tour off the San Francisco coast wearing a prototype, anatomically designed wetsuit that surfing giant Quiksilver is hoping will make big waves in the surfing industry.
Gone are the days of throwing on a pair of boardies and hitting the beach for the elite of the sport. Today it’s all about buzzwords such as taping and banding and compression as the worlds of sport and science collide in surf-gear manufacturing.
And that’s where Deakin steps in.
The university and Quiksilver, whose Geelong and Torquay headquarters are just 15 minutes apart, have entered into a five-year, $350,000 research and development partnership to create the next generation of surf gear.
Deakin scientists say they will offer their expertise in textile technology, human movement and manufacturing to hopefully revolutionise, firstly, the humble set of boardshorts.
Then they’re setting their sights on rash vests and wetsuits, and just about any other form of surfing gear the technology can apply to in a bid to help shape surfing’s future.
“As far as a university and a surf company working together, it’s quite a unique proposition,” said Haydn Davis, Quiksilver’s head of design.
“Every surf company has got their performance claims but I don’t think too many have got genuine claims in terms of new ideas that are going to change the game. We’re really trying to, I guess, shift the perception of the surf industry as a sort of backyard affair into something quite more substantial.”
They’re not about to do away with that distinctly Australian summer uniform of baggy boardshorts, however.
The new technology will apply to a compression garment worn under an outer, more traditional boardshorts layer.
The garment is aimed at professional surfers but also those who do a lot of training at the water or beach, such as bootcampers.
Mr Davis said Quiksilver first introduced a pair of boardshorts using this idea in 2003, which evolved to the Xplosive boardshort, the first compression, taped boardshort on the market.
He explains the elastic taping system by saying it works like a slingshot, aligning muscles so they are perfectly placed for the twisting and driving motions involved in surfing. Like other common compression garments on the markets, the compression aspect aims to promote better circulation and muscle recovery.
Deakin is hoping to take this design and advance it further.
“We started developing a taping system that works with your muscular structure in partnership with Malcolm Browne, who used to do all the physiotherapy work with the Wallabies and a lot of the rugby league teams up in Sydney,” Mr Davis said.
“So we got together with Kelly Slater and sort of brainstormed some ideas about how some patterns could work in terms of developing an actual internal short which aids in muscle recovery and positioning.
“I guess it has changed the perception of what a boardshort can be, in terms of a garment that can actually help you perform.”
Paul Collins, Deakin University research academic, said Deakin was considered one of the top materials research groups in the country, with a heavy emphasis on fibres and textiles.
“In the lab we’re doing a huge range of things. We re quantifying material properties, looking at elasticity, longevity, durability, at things like the UV stabilisation,” Dr Collins said.
“We’re taking a very mechanical engineering perspective and applying them to boardshorts.”
Dr Collins said he hoped the first product would be ready for the Quiksilver Pro, which kicks off on the Gold Coast later this month.
“Boardshorts are by far…”
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/surfwear-pioneers-not-short-of-ideas-20120206-1r0u0.html#ixzz1laWDBUMh
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