Evolution of the Modern Surfboard Industry
This chapter focuses on surfboard making in Hawaiʻi, California, and Australia during the postwar era of foam. Between the late 1940s and mid-1950s, a new foam material was being used in experimental surfboard making: polystyrene or Styrofoam. However, polystyrene foam proved unsuitable for surfboard making, and new type of polyurethane foam emerged that addressed problems of dissolving cores, timber veneers, and unattractive glue marks. This chapter examines how the introduction of foam created new possibilities for establishing formal workshops and a legitimized, commercial industry. It looks at the rapid growth of commercial surfboard workshops and retail outlets, displacing the do-it-yourself culture of board making and giving rise to a wide array of surfboard designs, even as surfboard makers experimented with alternatives to foam. Thanks to foam, the surfboard industry entered an era of greater commercialism and experimentation by leading surfers who became inventors and innovators.
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