The economic climate has certainly taken its toll on the sporting goods world. Key retailers in these relatively flat markets are continually promoting unconventional equipment and are pushing the limits of design to drive emerging interest to their category. Surfing has certainly not been excused from the attempt to steer thrill seeking baby boomers into its sport by creating new equipment that cuts the learning curve for any entry level participant. The recent stand-up paddle board phenomenon (that holds a lofty $1600 price tag) is a clear example that has attracted consumers back to the board shops. A group of Spanish engineers have taken a new approach to recent economic pitfalls by shifting the focus from re-engineering boards, to re-engineering waves. Wavegarden, out of San Sebastian, Spain, has provided new opportunities to landlocked consumers by creating an artificial wave technology that can be implemented in lakes, lagoons or ponds.

The sport of surfing has developed in countries on six continents, but remains a privileged sport for those that are coastally located. The Wavegarden artificial wave has a vastly improved form that may make current wave pools a thing of the past. The macro implications of this design beg the question: What will happen to the surfing population? With massive growth potential, this technological advancement has the possibility to revive the surfing consumer market and introduce the pastime to water sport enthusiasts around the globe. In years to come, we may just see surfing World Champions from the flat lands of Indiana.

With the possibility of new pockets of surfing goods consumers manifesting in non-coastal regions, the resulting migration of retailers would be soon to follow. Though major surfboard companies would be the first to generate business from this new consumer group, the subsequent growth of local retailers and local surfboard shapers would be inevitable. Since the 2005 closure of Clark Foam (the world’s largest manufacturer of surfboard blanks), the surfing consumer has reinvested in the local board shapers to create surfboards from non-conventional materials. With larger companies like Homeblown and Patagonia researching green alternatives, local shapers are looking to new suppliers for cheaper alternatives. By expanding the consumer market to new geographic regions, the raw material supply base may take on a much larger scope. Local shapers could purchase and experiment with cost effective
alternative materials from regional manufacturers. Corn based plastics and soy based foams might have the chance to replace fiberglass and epoxy surfboard materials. Though the successful growth of the artificial wave remains to be seen, a new consumer base and unorthodox supply-chain will be hungrily awaiting its arrival.
Share To:

Ian Mac Manus

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours