Few pieces of equipment are going to have such a big impact on your enjoyment of surfing -- or performance therein -- than your rubber. You can have the session of your life on a beat-up old board, but being cold and restricted are hard to look past.
Rip Curl has built a name as one of the leading purveyors of surfing wetsuits, and they've just lifted the lid on their latest offering. Designed and tested by Mick Fanning, Tyler Wright and Gabriel Medina -- that's seven World Titles between them -- they're calling the E7 E-Bomb their lightest, stretchiest wetsuit ever.
This is fairly groundbreaking, considering wetsuit technology had already evolved into the realm of diminishing returns; they have been so good, for so long that it's hard to really move the needle on what in already butter soft and toasty warm. Still, Rip Curl says the E7 has 25 % more stretch and is 10% lighter than its predecessor, E6.
How'd they do it? Well, it seams the big improvement in stretch has come from removing all the seams from the upper part of the suit. The upper panel, around your shoulders, chest and arms, is a singe piece of neoprene. This makes sense, given the seams, held fast by stitching and glue, are where the restriction comes from.
"If you want to surf for two, three, four hours - it's all about paddling. Your arms are the first to go. So, if we can keep those shoulders nice and loose then we're golden," says Mick Fanning.
You can see him trying the suit out in the below clip from Rip Curl, and get some feedback from the man himself:
Beneath this upper-body panel, the rest of the suit is E6 super stretch neoprene and is thermo lined internally for warmth. Rip Curl says these are limited edition suits for now -- the neoprene requires a specialist production technique, and is only available in small quantities at present. Get 'em while you can.
"As soon as it's on you can feel the difference. Everyone wants to surf higher, faster, longer and this is the next progression in wetsuits to do that," says Tyler Wright of the new suits.