Frequently Asked Questions
Why are the boards so expensive? And why aren’t they available in shops?
The unique construction technique employed by Upeksha brings together 75 separate pieces combined in one layup using epoxy (which, together with the graphics, have not been included in the piece count). The boards are then vacuum bag cured at stepped temperatures to achieve the maximum glass transition temperature for the epoxy. This glass transition temperature should be around 80 degrees, at least 20 degrees higher than room-temperature-cured epoxy. The higher glass transition temperature makes the boards more robust by improving their resistance to relaxation of shape if overheated and their ultimate strength, and also reducing the brittleness of the epoxy.
A feature of Upeksha boards, and one that allows the boards to be lighter and more responsive then others, is the 12-shear resistant carbon fibre layers that weave through the board along its length (hence the 75 pieces). These carbon fibre layers are oriented at 45 degrees so that they can resist the shear forces between top deck and bottom deck in direct tension and compression, which is by far the greatest attribute when using carbon fibre anywhere.
The boards are formed from a total weight of dry carbon fibre of a little over 1kg. We believe this to be the most carbon fibre used in any current production board. Carbon fibre is a terrific material but unfortunately a very expensive one. The cost of this carbon fibre, together with the labor-intensive layup of 75 pieces and the individual machining of 62 of these pieces, creates an expensive board. We have done our best to reduce the cost of the materials and labor when calculating our current prices. We have also kept costs lower by choosing not to market these boards through traditional distributor and retailer outlets, which would put the prices beyond the limits of most riders. As we market directly to customers, there is no local support for the products; we sincerely apologize for this but see no other way to supply these top performance boards in a cost-effective manner.
Why no footstraps or fins?
Our primary focus is on bringing the fastest slalom race board to the market. We have tested various footpad, footstrap and fin designs. To date, we have been unable to bring anything new to the marketplace.
How do the GAWA boards perform in different wind speeds during slalom racing?
We believe that in slalom racing, in winds less than 13 knots when limited to tube kites (as per Youth Olympic Games format), the kite is the major variable in obtaining maximum board speed. Our testing shows maximum continuous board speeds of 22 knots at 13 knot wind speed. Most mainstream twin-tip boards can be ridden at these speeds by most riders. So, in up to 13 knots, there is no great speed advantage with our boards. In these lighter wind conditions the Upsy-Dozy helps prevent whoopsie daisies.
In winds over 13 knots, the kite starts to become secondary to the combination of rider ability and board characteristics to handle the chop and sea conditions as riders end up sheeting out to maintain control of the board/themselves (hey, flat water is a completely different story!). Our testing shows high wipe-out likelihood on traditional twin-tip boards travelling at over 25 knots continuous speed in choppy water. Short bursts above this speed can be handled but not sustained.
Comparing this top speed to the speed of the small GAWA board, the maximum continuous speed we have successfully ridden in choppy conditions (unsheltered waters) is 30 knots, five knots faster than traditional twin-tips, with short bursts above this speed possible.
Why is the Gawa board so SPEEDY?
We put this additional board speed capability down to seven things:
- Continuous circular concave from midsection through release tip
- Continuous circular rocker
- Upsy-Dozy allowing the rider to recover from otherwise nose-diving situations –you just keep bouncing up!
- Removal of toeside fin which allows a clean release of spray (spray hitting toeside fin holds the board back and makes the board less stable at high speed)
- Narrow overall board
- Relatively long board
- Relatively stiff board
An added bonus is the removal of most spray with the Upsy-Dozy!
Does the Gawa board have the ability to jump big?
In our obsession to maximize our WOO scores here in Pranburi, we have tested any board we can get our hands (and WOO) on. The best two boards we found were a 150 x 35 custom mutant originally designed for an Airush team rider in Perth in 2001 who, thankfully for us, decided to leave Perth to become a gigolo in the USA and needed quick cash to get started (for the board – the cash was for the board!) and a 133 x 35 custom Addiction board designed and made by Peter Gold specifically for Craig in 2003 (thanks Peter – it is still being used, though the bottom is looking a little rough!).
The key elements for jumping high in lighter winds are high board speed and board control at release from water. Both the mutant and Addiction allow us to be in control at time of release some 4 knots faster than traditional twin-tip boards, with corresponding increases in jump heights over other boards. The key feature is that both boards are narrow. However, they are too narrow for slalom racing if winds turn light, especially for getting back upwind for the next race.
We used Peter Gold’s board as inspiration for our first jumping boards but we made our boards slightly longer and 2cm wider (which buys a lot of upwind performance). Peter’s board also had small Upsy-Dozys (4cm) which we felt were of assistance, maybe saving one out of ten crashes. So we started increasing the size of the Upsy-Dozy and found improved performance, finally settling on 10.5cm.
Lightweight Boards: Our plan for the next Upeksha board release will be to create the lightest board available on the market. We have a goal of producing a sub-1kg board. We know 1.3kg is possible as we have already created one that is being ridden regularly and not breaking so we think it’s possible to go even lighter for light riders (under 70kg) with maximum 7g landing, which is our base criteria in our finite analysis of a board’s strength – without a factor of safety though! We are eager to get on to this next project as soon as we get the time.
Jumping Boards: We have developed a high jumping board which caters to our chief passion of going high. This board, with a few tweaks, became the smaller GAWA board. We plan to get back to working on making a board specifically for jumping after the 2018 YOG.
Monster Boards: With the announcement that kiteboarding would be included in the 2018 YOG, and that it would be TT-R format, we assumed course racing would be adopted so we developed a light-wind upwind monster that would still fit the TT-R class rules. We named this monster BIG FOOT and it, together with our six-time Asian champion rider, Yo, went on to win every TT-R race held in Thailand with two overseas 2nd place results in the World Championships in China. These boards were the first to feature the Upeksha Upsy-Dozy tips.
Why is board stiffness optimal for slalom racing?
Now that the IKA has released the YOG registered board list, we can confirm that UPEKSHA GAWA boards are the stiffest and lightest IKA registered board available. For free riding, a good board stiffness is typically (in IKA measurements) around 7000 to 8000 -- the higher the number the more flexible the board. This stiffness gives a comfortable ride without sacrificing the performance and speed too much. Our boards are almost double this stiffness. However, our testing has shown that for racing, boards that are more flexible absorb more wind energy. When they flex it also increases the rocker line under power. Both of these effects slow the board down. We believe our board stiffness is optimum for slalom racing, for which comfort is not the primary focus, but speed (does a formula one race car look like a comfortable ride?). With UPEKSHA boards, almost no wind energy is absorbed by board flex, the rocker remains almost unchanged under full power delivering the fastest ride possible for that wind strength.
How do the Upsy Dozy's manage pressure?
The Upsy Dozy tips are designed for maximum water pressure loads that can happen during riding. Do not use the Upsy Dozy to flick the board up off the ground, or stand on the tips while on the ground as this loading may damage the board.
Why is there no Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) on the boards? Why do the boards not appear to be glossy perfect?
The GAWA boards are dedicated race boards. They have no sheets of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) or Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) top and bottom to protect the board from UV exposure so the board should be kept out of direct sunlight when not in use. The reasons for not using PET or PBT are threefold:
The base needs to be sanded and/or polished to a finish that is most efficient. This cannot be done with PBT/PET.
The additional weight of PET/PBT sheets would add an extra 0.3kg to the board with negligible increase in overall stiffness, which is undesirable.
Once damaged, PET/PBT is nearly impossible to repair back to its original smoothness, where an epoxy base can be repaired and sanded easily.
If exposed to direct sunlight for an extended time, the board graphics will fade, and the epoxy will turn yellowish. The board will still perform if this occurs, but you may think it not so beautiful anymore. One way to care for your board is to wax the board the same as you would for a car (using car waxing material) which will provide a UV barrier for a few months at a time.
Another unique feature with GAWA boards is the visible joints on the top deck. These are from the cuts made in the core material for the carbon fibre shear reinforcing. If we used PBT/PET these joints would not be visible – but we don’t.
Boards typically also have an occasional small crease in the top deck formed by the release film used at the vacuum bagging stage. This also does not affect performance.
The boards are not designed to hit kickers/hard obstacles or for riding on sand for similar reasons to why PET/PBT have not been used.
Because performance and speed are most important to us, we embrace the Japanese philosophy of Wabi- Sabi "The perfection of imperfection" in appearsance.
Can boots be placed on the board?
The original Gawa was designed for footstraps, and we use end grain balsa wood under the toe and heel areas where the major loading comes (the end grain balsa provides 2.5 times the compression capacity of the Divinycell used elsewhere, for almost the same weight). We know that some riders, especially in heavier wind conditions, feel more comfortable in boots. The boards have inserts at the correct spacing for most boots (152mm, or 6”). However due to the convex curvature of the top deck, any boots need to have stiff EVA (or similar stiff foam) under the heels and toes so that there is no gap between boot and board. If these areas are not packed up, the boot will rock backwards and forwards which will reduce board control and potentially damage the board and/or the boot.