Surfboard ride worth a million

World's most expensive board detailed in gold leaf

DON ROWE
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014
Roy Stuart
Supplied
RIGHT TRACK: Roy Stuart is pitching his handcrafted surfboards, featuring inlaid details trimmed with gold leaf, at the rich.

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A Putaruru man has designed the world's most expensive surfboard.

The $1.3 million board, named Rampant, is shaped from paulownia wood with a 3D-printed polycarbonate fin and a kahikatea tunnel for extra lift. The board is detailed with a lion in 23-carat gold leaf.

Designer Roy Stuart said that, while some people had taken exception to the hefty pricetag, it was just a number, and he had already struck a deal with a client for a customised board.

"How can you quantify enjoyment?" he said. "How can you say ‘well, a good time at the beach is worth this much and materials would cost this, so here's what it's worth'? Price is just a number.

"In Hawaii, surfing was the sport of kings. If designer handbags and iPads can sell for millions of dollars, how is an expensive surfboard unreasonable?"

Stuart, a lifelong surfer, said boards constructed from wood provided a different experience to those made of foam and fibreglass.

"It's just a beautiful ride. Wooden boards have their own resonance like a musical instrument. The board is designed to flex like a longbow and the net result is a beautiful combination of sound and vibration. It's audible and really pleasurable."

Stuart holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Auckland and said that, while the board was aesthetically pleasing, functional design principles took priority.

"We never create anything that isn't sound engineering," Stuart said. "It's really an interesting philosophical question. Some people think that art needs to be useless but I'm from the other side. I think that art can derive from its use."

The innovative kahikatea tunnel at the back of the board was devised by Stuart in 1998. "It's based around the hydrofoil principle. I actually made a board with hydrofoils, and it worked, but there were a few handling issues so we tried to use what is called an annular wing, that's a wing with no tip, and it has some great hydrodynamic qualities."

The board Stuart is customising has some special features. "We're using laser-cut titanium in the design and adjusting the thickness of the board for their bodyweight."

Stuart said he was not surprised by the reaction to Rampant. "It's a crazy world with crazy-rich people. They all want something the other guy can't have. Look at it like a wealth-redistribution programme, all that money would just be sitting in a bank account otherwise."

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- Waikato Times

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