When it comes to success at the Olympics, equipment is key. Most of the surfers you'll see in the Games have been working tirelessly with their shapers for months to ensure that there boards are totally dialed for any and all conditions they may face in their quest for gold. From '80s-inspired epoxy designs, to the Dark Arts carbon fiber tech, to sharpened small-wave blades, here's a breakdown of who's riding what:
Gabriel Medina Spotted Riding A Mayhem Fish
Current World Number 1, Gabriel Medina was just spot warming up on a Lost Round Nose Fish. Normally we'd expect to see him on his Cabianca shapes, but he's unexpectedly been toying around on a relatively unconventional design from Matt Biolos of Lost Surfboards. The board was originally made famous by Andy Irons, Cory Lopez and Chris Ward. And Ward doubled own on the board when he famously made the Finals of the 2005 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast while riding this model. Could Medina take a page out of Psycho Ward's playbook and ride the RNF in the Olympics?
The Power Of Dark Arts
Utilizing an innovative glassing process using carbon fiber, we've been seeing more and more surfers with the Dark Arts tech under their feet. Kanoa Igarashi and board sponsor Sharp Eye Surfboards have teamed up with Dark Arts to create the boards that could take him to the top of the podium. Utilizing carbon fiber to promote lightweight design that marries speed, agility and durability. The carbon fiber creates spring, unlike traditional fiberglass, which results in more speed and projection if applied correctly.
From the looks of the latest posts from the women of Team Brazil, they're also getting in on the Dark Arts program. Tatiana Weston-Webb and Silvana Lima have both been seen on them in Japan. And Weston-Webb recently looked very strong on these Sharp Eye/Dark Arts collabs at the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe.
Italo Ferrira's Quiver Gets An '80s Vibe From Shaper Timmy Patterson
San Clemente-based shaper Timmy Patterson, who's been working with World Champ Ferreira since the early days, recently explained how Ferreira's been enjoying his Synthetic '84 model, which he's included in his collection of Olympic boards.
Featuring a beaked nose in a nod to the classic ‘80s design, the board has been overhauled with modern curves, contours and rocker.
"When Italo first tried this board his guys in Brazil told us not to even bother making one for him, but I threw one in his order anyway and it turned out he loved it," Patterson explains. "So, we've been developing that for small beachbreak surf ever since."
Besides Ferreira, Patterson is also supplying boards for Peruvians Sofía Mulánovich and Lucas Mesinas, as well as Israel's Anat Lelior and Argentina's Leandro Usuna.
Team USA Looking To Cause Some Mayhem
Not only was Medina spotted on a Biolos-shaped board in the warmups, but the San Clemente-based shaper has made the quivers for three out of four of the American surfers: Kolohe Andino, Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore.
Actually, in the pursuit of nailing down board designs, Biolos shaped each surfer three different quivers until he was happy with what he was sending his surfers to Japan with. Andino left for the Games with 12 boards in his arsenal, and Marks and Moore are also in that neighborhood.
Biolos spent an exorbitant amount of time working the small-wave boards. Really toying with dimensions and curves, the R&D process was largely led by Andino, who's go-to board was made with a stringered epoxy blank. Marks and Moore are also on epoxy minus the stringer down the middle.
"We've been watching the surf cam for six weeks straight, and if the conditions are like we expect them to be, I think there's a very strong chance we'll see these surfers on the podium," Biolos explains. "We've put a lot of hard work into all of this, really pushed things as far as we can go, and I feel very good about where we landed."
JS Industries Delivers Some Colorful Blades
Australia's Julian Wilson and JS Industries have been working on something seriously beautiful surfboards for the Games. These fresh boards seem to be using HYFI technology that is multi-layer epoxy construction that makes the board lighter, stronger and have an ideal spring-loaded flex. Wilson's explosive surfing matched with these springy boards could be a recipe for success as he won a Qualifying Series event in Newcastle in 2020 on one -- and the conditions on Finals day could be similar to what we see at Shida.
Leonardo Fioravanti Is Ready To Make A Run
With South Africa's Jordy Smith withdrawing from the event due to a knee injury. Italy's Leonardo Fioravanti got the nod and he's looking to make the most of the opportunity. He has been riding Christaan Bradley Surfboards throughout the year and looks especially happy with his Olympic boards. Something to be noted is the second photo in this carousel shows Leo has a epoxy Bradley as well.
Owen Wright And His Epoxy DHD
Standing 6'3'', Australia's Owen Wright's equipment choices will be especially important in the potentially challenging Japanese conditions. Wright will be riding an eps MF DNA from Darren Handley Designs. EPS foam constructed is especially responsive in small surf due to it being lighter and having a more springy pop. The model Wright will be riding was designed with the help of three-time World Champion Mick Fanning and showcases Fanning's signature rocker with single to double concave out the back. DHD being well represented on the Aussie team as 7-time world champ Steph Gilmore will also have Darren's boards under her feet.