Tips Surf / Practical sheets
A word from the product manager about surfing wetsuits
Interview with Fréderic, boardsports product manager and Tribord boardsports wetsuit product designer
What is a surfing wetsuit made of?
Fréderic: A wetsuit is mainly made of neoprene in various thicknesses depending on the thermal insulation required. Inside the neoprene foam are tiny bubbles of nitrogen. It is these tiny bubbles trapped in the foam that insulate the skin from the cold water acting as a thermal barrier, similar to the effect of the double glazing in your house...
Then there is a fabric lining that is stretch making it easier to get the wetsuit on.
What would you say was a good level of thermal insulation for surfing use?
Fréderic: A product that allows you to stay in the water without feeling cold. One must be able to stay 2 hours without feeling cold in water that is above 15°C and at least 1 hour in water between 10 and 15°C.
What are the 2 essential properties of a surfing wetsuit?
Fréderic: -Firstly, the flexibility and the stretch properties. A surfer needs the wetsuit to be flexible at the shoulders because he spends at least 80% of his time in the water paddling. Freedom of movement is crucial.
-Its ability to adapt to different body shapes is also an important feature as this ensures good thermal insulation. It prevents water from circulating in between the skin and the wetsuit.
And what is the difference between a wetsuit for surfing, sailing or diving use?
Fréderic: All of these wetsuits are made with the same materials (neoprene and fabric) but they are different because the sporting requirements are very different. The design of the wetsuit must therefore be modified to suit the restrictions of these sports. Consequently, surfing wetsuits must have plenty of stretch at the shoulders. Sailing wetsuits have greater resistance to the abrasions caused by rubbing and the mechanical demands of sailing.
When diving, you need thicker neoprene as the neoprene gets squashed by the water pressure as you dive down deep.
Could you describe the main steps in the design of a Tribord wetsuit?
Fréderic: The first step is to draw up specifications after observing and analysing users and their needs for a long time.
Using these directives, the designer produces technical drawings of the wetsuit. We work out the different functions, the pattern, the materials and the details with the product engineer and the pattern designer and we approve the design of the product.
The next stage is the creation of a test prototype to approve the sizing and the use. A test procedure is implemented to evaluate this prototype. Depending on the result, adjustments are made so that the product matches the features described in the initial specifications.
Before putting the product into production, "initial series units" are approved: these are the no. 1 wetsuits broken down by size. All the produced wetsuits are exact copies of these pre-production samples.
Between 10 months and 1½ years are needed to get from the specifications document to the introduction of the wetsuits in store.
Where are the Tribord wetsuits produced?
Fréderic: The 1st working prototype is made in our prototype workshop in Hendaye in the French Basque region.
The production is done in Asia (Thailand, China), in the same factories that are used by most of the major surf brands…
Do you have any care instructions to extend the life of a wetsuit?
Fréderic: They must be rinsed in clean water after each session. It is better not to dry them in direct sunlight or on a radiator. After each end of season, the wetsuit must be properly cleaned with disinfectant before it goes back in the wardrobe. This removes all the salt and dirt from the neoprene and lining. Most importantly, do not fold it up in a bag as flexible neoprene fabrics will get damaged after several months folded up.
Will there be any new Tribord wetsuits in 2011?
Next summer, there will be the Fatigless 3'2 mm, a wetsuit that is highly flexible. And for the winter 2011, we will introduce the new Fatigless 4'3 mm with a front zip for greater freedom of movement, better sealing at the collar and a fit that is easier to get on/off.
Tribord also advise you to consult...
|The tidal phenomenon|
|The safety advice of the French lifeboats service (SNSM) to beach-goers|
|The priority rules|
|The tidal phenomenon|
|The tidal phenomenon|
|see all the Surf / Bodyboard advice|
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