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UWL Surfboards 2024 Preview

Retail Buyers Guide:  2024 Surfboards Retail Buyer’s Guide
Brand:  UWL Surfboards
Interviewee: Benoit JEAN Wholesale and B2C Manager

To a certain extent, the surfboard market relies on custom-made products and on demand manufacturing. Does this means the business is relatively spared from the poor sell-out and overstocks reported in other boardsport categories?
Currently, we’re observing a slower pace in the custom market than usual, with fewer requests for personalized boards and a lengthier purchasing process. Customers are taking additional time to finalize their orders, indicating a more deliberate decision-making process. However, on a positive note, the average purchase value has increased, with customers opting for more options and accessories for their new boards. On average, the total for a custom board along with accessories hovers around €1,050, reflecting our clients’ preference for quality and customization.

While the board offer has never been so wide nowadays, which were the top trends of 2023?
In 2023, the surfboard market has experienced an unprecedented diversity in its offerings. Among this wide array, mid-length and performance fish boards emerged as the leading trends. Mid-length boards, including eggs, have garnered popularity across a broad spectrum of customers. They serve as an ideal choice for those seeking a versatile, all-in-one board, as well as for advanced surfers in search of a “casual” board for their collection. The performance fish has reinvented itself as the new “shortboard,” particularly in regions like Charentes Maritime, where the waves are generally more gentle compared to places like Landes or the Basque Country. The twin+trailer fish design has proven to be the optimal choice for capitalizing on these mellow sections and achieving high performance in the pocket. Additionally, there’s a resurgence in interest for the traditional shortboard, with a notable trend towards customization. EPS boards with full carbon or Spine Teck style constructions are gaining momentum. At Cardinal Surfboards, innovation remains at the forefront of our mission. We are focusing on vacuum bag custom EPS builds, which we anticipate will become the new standard in the near future.

There is a noticeable step-back from competitive surfing: did this affect the sales of high-perf models?
The shift away from competitive surfing towards a more relaxed, versatile approach has indeed influenced consumer preferences, but it hasn’t diminished the demand for high-performance models within our range. Surfers are indeed seeking a more laid-back experience on the water, yet their desire to excel remains strong. Our mid-length and fish boards are designed with performance in mind, catering to this nuanced demand. Take, for instance, our “Seven Four” model – a modern take on the minimal board with specific modifications that make it both challenging for advanced riders and accessible for beginners. Additionally, our new hybrid smaller boards act like wave magnets and offer more than sufficient performance for 98% of surfers. The versatility and prowess of surfers like Mikey February and Coco Ho, who excel on a variety of board types, serve as significant inspiration. Their ability to rip on anything makes the case for these boards being excellent daily drivers. Nevertheless, there’s a resurgence in the popularity of shortboards, albeit slightly longer ones ranging from 6’1″ to 6’4″, inspired by surfers like Harry Bryant who favor the 90’s style Australian shortboards. Comfort is becoming a pivotal consideration, influencing the evolving preferences in board selection.

There is no arguing: twins and midlengths still are crowd favorites. But which will be the trends within those two trends in 2024?
Twins and mid-length boards undoubtedly continue to captivate the surfing community. Looking ahead to 2024, the trend within these two categories is poised to evolve while maintaining their core appeal. Mid-length boards, in particular, are expected to remain at the forefront of sales due to their versatility and ability to cater to a wide spectrum of surfers. At UWL, our commitment to crafting mid-length and fun shapes has a long-standing history, and we pride ourselves on offering a variety of templates to suit surfers of all kinds. This bespoke approach ensures that mid-length boards will not only continue to be a crowd favorite but also evolve with innovative designs that enhance their appeal to both new and seasoned surfers alike. The trends within these two categories are likely to reflect a blend of traditional aesthetics with modern performance features, appealing to a broad audience seeking both style and functionality in their surfing experience.

After the release of the Channel Islands Mid, the launch of the CI Log is a clear indicator of the appetite for classic longboards, outside the perimeter of niche hype brands. How is your longboard game for 2024?
In 2024, our commitment to longboarding remains as strong as ever, reflecting its enduring legacy within UWL’s history. Through our Shapers Club, we boast the finest selection of longboards in Europe, with a particular emphasis on high-performance noseriders. Among our standout offerings is the “Addiction Dark Key,” a superbly crafted “modern traditional log” that epitomizes the blend of classic design with contemporary performance. Thomas Bexon stands at the forefront of shaping modern traditional logs, introducing innovative designs that have proven exceptionally well-suited to our beach breaks. His creations are among the most sought after, underscoring our dedication to providing surfers with top-tier longboards that marry the timeless appeal of traditional longboarding with the cutting-edge performance demanded by today’s surfers.

 There are two main paths when it comes to sustainable surfboards: the eco blanks & resins, or the low-waste vacuum-made EPS boards. What is your take on the matter?
At Cardinal Surfboards, sustainability is a core value that guides our innovation and product development. Research and Development (R&D) is deeply ingrained in our DNA, with Renaud Cardinal leading the charge on exploring new technologies, including the low-waste vacuum-made EPS boards. This approach aligns with our commitment to sustainability without compromising the performance and quality that our customers expect. While we are also exploring eco blanks & resins, this exploration is still in the testing phase. We are committed to transparency and integrity in our sustainability efforts, which means we will only advocate for these materials once we can definitively prove their environmental benefits and performance standards. In addition to our internal R&D efforts, we are proud of our collaboration with Varuna Surfboards, known for their durable and sustainable balsa boards. These boards are produced as part of a forest regenerating program, underscoring our commitment to not just minimizing harm but actively contributing to environmental regeneration. Our approach to sustainability is multifaceted, reflecting a balance between innovation, environmental stewardship, and the uncompromised quality of our surfboards.

Key Products:

The “Seven Four” by UWL surfboards:
Elevate your surf collection with the “Seven Four,” a reimagined minimal board that offers a unique blend of challenge and accessibility. Its innovative design caters to both seasoned surfers and newcomers, ensuring adaptability across various wave conditions.



The Twin+Trailer “TWIN PERF” Cardinal surfboards:
Embrace the evolution of surfing with our “Twin+Trailer Fish” board. This modern take on the shortboard excels in softer waves, providing exceptional performance and agility. Ideal for surfers looking to make the most of every section.



The Addiction “Dark Key”:
Experience the pinnacle of longboarding with the “Addiction Dark Key.” This modern traditional log, shaped by the renowned Thomas Bexon, offers a seamless fusion of classic style and modern-day performance, making it a coveted piece for any longboard aficionado.



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