Mark Nelson founded Carve Sports, Inc. / VERITAS SURFCRAFT in 2014. Since that time, Mark and his team have partnered with Yu Sumitomo of Thunderbolt Technologies, and elite longboard surfers including CJ Nelson, Harley Ingleby, and Ben Skinner. Together with their shapers, this team has created exceptional lineups of high performance and classic longboards and fun shapes and established distribution of their boards in most major surf markets around the world. Brands include CJ Nelson Designs, Harley Ingleby Series by Tolhurst Surfboards, SkinDog Surfboards, and Flying Diamonds Fins. With so much history and tradition under his roof, you’d think Mark would be a throw-back, but he’s actually one of the most progressive forward-thinkers in the longboard world, and one of the first to utilize the revolutionary Thunderbolt technology.
Mark met Yu Sumitomo, creator of Thunderbolt Technologies when he was researching alternative surfboard construction. He looked at a lot of different construction options and toured a number of factories, and didn’t find anything close to Yu san’s boards in terms of quality and performance. When they met in 2014, Yu san was already making high-performance longboards with earlier generations of the Thunderbolt construction for some of the top professional surfers in the world. The flex and rebound characteristics of his boards were simply on a different level in terms of responsiveness, and they proved to be very durable as compared to traditional board-building materials.
“There is no question in my mind that Thunderbolt Technologies produces the liveliest, best-performing longboards available. All of my dedicated boards are built with Yu-San’s tech. When it comes time to perform, I wouldn’t even consider riding anything else.” – Harley Ingleby
With Thunderbolt Technologies blanks, the internal flex control components can be adjusted to provide the amount of flex needed in each part of the board. The boards essentially get designed from the inside out based on what the surfers and designers want. The boards are 100% hand layups, which makes a high level of custom tuning possible, with each model and size built with its own unique flex control system. Once these hand-built blanks are finished, they can be laminated with a variety of materials ranging from XEON Fiberglass to carbon fiber.
XEON Fiberglass is a proprietary fiberglass cloth that is pre-pigmented in a variety of colors, which means glasses don’t need to overload boards with resin to get rich color during lamination. As a result, they can more precisely control resin usage for weight and consistency in lamination from board to board. The XEON fiberglass is laminated to the finished Thunderbolt blank, which already has the internal flexural control components for exceptional flex and rebound. XEON fiberglass has the same flexural characteristics as regular fiberglass, so, when matched with the Thunderbolt blank, you get lots of flex and a prolonged rebound, providing extended projection when coming out of turns.
Carbon fiber, on the other hand, takes more energy to stretch and rebounds to its pre-stretched length more rapidly than fiberglass. When you add carbon fiber lamination to a Thunderbolt blank that has internal carbon fiber flex control components, you’re doubling up on the speed that the board rebounds with when pushed hard in a turn. The harder you push, the faster it rebounds, giving back a lot of energy and projecting the board out of turns with extra speed and force. It takes more energy to flex a carbon fiber board than one laminated with XEON, so the carbon fiber Thunderbolt boards excel in larger surf where the full benefit of that extra energy released can be realized. Of course, powerful surfers can put carbon fiber boards to full effect in any conditions.
With Carve’s high-performance boards, the most significant thing that everyone notices is the increase in energy projected by the board coming out of turns. The boards flex very well, so when to put hard on the rail, they draw a tighter arc, making for faster turns. Coming out of turns, the internal flex components generate a huge amount of energy when the board unflexes, projecting the board forward. This big uptick in responsiveness is what the riders love so much.
Traditional models also benefit from the advantages of flex and rebound but in more subtle ways. You can take Thunderbolt logs and put them on the rail when you want to, but the primary benefit CJ Nelson is looking for in his traditional models is enhancing the flow and feel, and improving the responsiveness so that he can nimbly position the board exactly where he wants to be on a wave, rather than wrestling a more rigid, heavier log, as with traditional construction. Thunderbolt blanks are also set up for the tail to twist as well as flex, which allows the rider to control the board from the nose with a lot more dexterity than more rigid constructions.
Yu Sumitomo is the man who came up with the Thunderbolt technology, and his commitment to quality and the constant pursuit of elevating performance is exceptional. His father, Tamotsu, started making surfboards in Japan over 40 years ago and is one of the true innovators of the industry. Yu san learned a lot from his dad and has continued to advance the art of building surfboards to the highest levels. He is the reason that Mark Nelson got involved in the surfboard industry, and is as much a brother to Mark as he is a business partner. Between Mark, Yu, CJ, Harley, and Ben, Carve has grown into a thriving business and one that Hawaiian South Shore is proud to represent!