Its a good day to take a minute (and 54 seconds) to watch this clip (accompanied by Miss Peggy “Is That All There Is?” Lee)Next-Flex.html
The flextails have some interesting characteristics, and maybe a more, well, smarter, person might be able to add their 2¢ as to what’s going on…
The main idea was to have a shorter, thicker and wider board that could be an easy wave catcher and maneuverable and bend a bit to conform to hollower sections.
Originally I thought the tail flex would allow for a straighter exit rocker- for speed- with tail rocker “on demand”: that it would bend in rocker as you loaded up the rail. It does do that, but at the expense of a certain crispness and instant response that you get from a “regular” board. That’s the case mostly off the top, (maybe because you don’t get the same sort of “G” forces, there?), but mid-face or off the bottom you actually have to be pretty easy with your weighting, because it really wants to jump out of the turn.
All in all, they seem to work best with a relaxed, easy approach, where you just let them find their way.
Here’s what I notice riding them: The pluses: In hollow and/or lined up waves they’re gearless, meaning that they go fast, without any staging or shifts, and, for short, wide boards, they don’t cavitate or get skittery (one of these days I’ll get back to Indo and see how much I can wind them out). They go fast (did I already say that?). Landing onto the flats is much smoother than with a rigid board (like having a suspension). Because the plane of the tail area is flexing independently from the entry plane, its not feeding back (think how boogie boarders, body surfers and mat riders conform to the wave face). That tail plane also gets a bit of suction to the wave face (laminar flow) and can ride very high and tight.
Which brings me to the negatives: Because of the above effects, the tails tend to stay glued to the water, and so the boards don’t like to “snap”, there’s a bit of turbo-lag, so its more of a drivey-carvey kind of turn.
But the thing that I can’t quite get my head around is something that I think might be some variation of the “Coandå Effect”: when the board’s in trim, in a laminar-flow state, the water pressure across the bottom actually will suck down a negative, reverse-camber, tail rocker. Its something that I’ve felt, while riding, and I’ve witnessed it with other riders: its like the board’s riding a cylindrical section of water, rather than a flat or concave one. The tail lifts and the nose drops and the board’s feels like its being drawn forward, rather than sliding downhill. It feels really cool when it kicks in- its like you’re draped over a ball of energy. The downside relates to the negative, above, in that it limits its run-out speed, somewhat. Once it hugs that ball, it doesn’t want to let go.
Anyway, maybe its just another way to waste time!