Getting away from the ‘every day’ with Hayden Cox.
Hayden Cox has always taken a different approach to life and to design – now the Audi ambassador is reimagining the way his own design and manufacturing process might be refined in the future.
18 November, 2019
Hayden Cox has made his reputation thinking outside the square and approaching accepted ways of doing things differently. The man who created Haydenshapes and revolutionised surfboard design with FutureFlex is never one to be caught resting on his laurels, and while he comes across as a relaxed individual, there’s no doubting the restless energy that seems to drive him on.
From an early age, he has constantly looked for new ways to improve the product and indeed the production process, and despite enormous international success with everything he touches, that quest is onging.
Most recently, his attention has increasingly been focused on improving the efficiencies of the manufacturing process, and looking to recycle, or upcycle, the over matter’ associated with producing world-class surfboards, rather than just accept that waste products are just a part of the process.
To really get his head around approaching things from a different perspective, the Audi ambassador felt he himself needed to approach things from a different perspective and step away from his standard operating procedure.
To that end, Hayden decided to go ‘remote’ – get away from it all for a couple of days to clarify his thinking and then, share his thoughts, and his remote location with a few friends and collages.
The location was Pittwater, and the venue was the extraordinary Lilypad Palm Beach – an absolutely stunning ‘floating house’ in a stunning location to set up a temporary surfboard shaping studio and show exactly what he had in mind.
Most recently, his attention has increasingly been focused on improving the efficiencies of the manufacturing process
And it was here that Hayden held something of a masterclass for friends and colleagues – who arrived by seaplane or boat
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now,” says Cox of his desire to make use of discarded materials in the production process, rather than consign them to landfill as has been part and parcel of the industry.
“Driving the Q7 e-tron over a period of time changed how I look at sustainability and working to be more efficient, and a trip to see how [luxury watchmakers] IWC Schaffhausen reused and recycled precious metals in their manufacturing process got me thinking about the whole idea of upcycling and refining the process in surfboard design and manufacture.
So Cox began looking at the process and began trying to isolate areas that may have been ‘staring us in the face’ where improvements and innovations could be made.
The result was ‘remote’ put on with the assistance of IWC Schaffhausen with whom Haydenshapes has an association. The result, arguably the coolest surfboard design studio in the most idyllic location. The perfect place to let the creative inspiration strike.
And it was here that Hayden held something of a masterclass for friends and colleagues – who arrived by seaplane or boat – and espoused his thoughts on reusing materials, but without compromising quality or performance.
“I started looking for easy wins,” says Cox, “things that are right in front of us, like using all of the foam and fibre we purchase and not wasting any of it. At the moment more than 30 percent of foam goes into the bin,” he says “because a surfboard’s curved and it comes out of a rectangular shaped block.”
Then of course it [a surfboard] has a pointy nose and a tapering tail, so the resultant waste stands to reason.
“So the next thing would be to come up with performance components that can be produced from the over matter and used in the manufacture of the next board. Whether that be fibreglass fabric, or a stringer or fin boxes…”
“What we’re trying to do is to design products that still maintain their performance attributes, so they’re light and strong and can be used in new boards.”
One of the concrete examples of this at Remote was laminating using glass fabric that was woven out in western Sydney from the upcycled glass and fibre from our manufacturing line in Mona Vale.
So the next thing would be to come up with performance components that can be produced from the over matter and used in the manufacture of the next board
Of course, there is a considerable cost at present involved in reusing offcuts and repurposing materials
The list of other components produced from reused offcuts and what would otherwise be discarded in the manufacturing process was impressive. From stringers (used to reinforce the board) made from carbon, glass fibres, foam dust and bio-epoxy resin, to tailpads and (the pad on the tail of a board) made in this case using flexible urethane with foam dust incorporated.
Of course, there is a considerable cost at present involved in reusing offcuts and repurposing materials which makes it very much a ‘work in progress’ while viable ways of doing things are developed.
The EPS foam for example, used by Haydenshapes comes from Utah, and to reuse to the overmaster would require melting it back down and potentially having to ship it back to Utah to be turned into a surfboard blank once again, so limited are the current avenues to haver that process carried out here.
One of the areas that presents real opportunities right now says Cox, is the fibre and working with our supply in Western Sydney to reproduce that fabric… that’s viable right now.”
Likewise producing high-performance components like the tailpad and the composite stringer all have great potential to be incorporated into the production process now and not only helping to reduce waste products but creating a more efficient production process.
But while wanting to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly end product is an important consideration, Hayden is adamant that performance can’t be compromised in the process.
“It’s important that we refine the performance characteristics of the products first and then we can figure out the most efficient way to manufacture. Compromise is not an option.”
“An e-tron still has to feel like an Audi and likewise a Haydenshapes board still has to perform and feel like a Haydenshapes board.”
The process though, is underway, and all like all innovative ideas, it stems from an initial desire to do things differently – and better. Whether Hayden actually had to retreat to his remote location on stunning Pittwater to come up with the idea really doesn’t matter – that too was a master stroke. Kicking back on the self-sufficient Lilypad house, beer in hand and the afternoon sun turning the water to gold, it’s impossible not to be caught up in Cox’s enthusiasm. Not so long ago, the idea of creating what amounts to an exoskeleton for a surfboard – reinforcing and strength around the outside of the board – had never been tried. Now FutureFlex is part of surfing lore.
It’s important that we refine the performance characteristics of the products first and then we can figure out the most efficient way to manufacture
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