November 2016. 




DIY: Transforming a Starboard iSonic 2016 into an iSonic 2017.




It's really not a problem to modify the tail of your slalom board. In fact it's a pretty simple "operation", and with just a little modesty and creative realism chances are great that the performance of your board benefits. If you have just a vague idea of how tweaking the tail shape influences the performance, and if you realize what kind of performance you want, then just go ahead. I mean, with the huge variety of tail shapes presented to us by the companies in the last 5-6 years, it's pretty obvious that designing tails is no exact science. It's trial and error, and your trial may be as good as that of the professional board shapers.


Here's an example of a "unauthorized" board tail modification: Of course I'm biased, but I think the tail modification gave me at least some of the change in performance, I sought.


However, if you think it's too risky to make your own designs, sometimes you are given the opportunity to replicate the modifications of a board model from one year to the next. A golden opportunity in this respect is to replicate the changes in tail shapes of the 2017 iSonics relative to the 2016 iSonics - simply because the changes are so well described.


Apart from the iSonic 117 (the former 114) Starboard has given up the very narrow tails and the complex stepped cut-outs (in 2 depths, 10 mm and 20 mm) for the 2017 iSonics.


Starboard has motivated these changes on their homepage ( Personally, I suspect Starboard has realized that the last generations of iSonics gradually have moved too far away from one of the classic iSonic virtues (control) in an attempt to obtain a higher (theoretical) top speed.


According to the descriptions on the Starboard homepage, the modifications of the 2017 iSonics compared to the 2016 iSonics are all about adding some material. Adding material to the deepest (20 mm) cut-out to level it with the 10 mm cut-out, and adding material to make the tail more round.


Adding material to the tail of your iSonic 2016 ought to be a piece of cake for a DIY guy, so lets try. In this case I'll try to transform a 2016 iSonic 97 into a 2017 iSonic 97.






Preparation: The relevant areas of the tail (the "contact") areas) are lightly sanded and cleaned.
















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A couple of 10 mm pieces of veneer are carefully shaped to fit in the deepest (20 mm) cut-outs and extended to the rear to form the basis of a more round tail. Remember to leave room for some weave to be laminated on the veneer.


The veneer pieces are glued to the board with epoxy mixed with filler (to obtain a less liquid consistence). Excess epoxy is wiped away.


In the picture the veneer pieces is kept in place with tape during the hardening process.


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The epoxy has hardened, and excess hardened epoxy is sanded away.

















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Two pieces of roughly shaped Styrofoam (Flamingo) are glued (again epoxy with filler) to the tail and the rear parts of the veneer. Excess epoxy is wiped away.















 Click the picture to enlarge.




The Styrofoam pieces are carefully shaped in detail. Remember to leave room for some weave - or whatever you'll laminate on the Styrofoam.










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Before the lamination job it's vital to sand away paint in small areas next to the veneer/Styrofoam. In this way the epoxy filled weave can bond securely to the board and make a tight and smooth transition.









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A single layer of glass weave is laminated (using epoxy, this time without filler) to the veneer parts and the small sanded areas on the original tail.


When the epoxy has cured, excess weave is cut/sanded away.








Click the picture to enlarge.




On the Styrofoam parts I've chosen to laminate one layer of glass weave, then a flexible layer of sandwich cloth, and lastly a layer of glass weave.

You can probably get away with 3-4 layers of glass weave and forget all about the sandwich cloth.


I've chosen to use tape to squeeze excess epoxy out of the laminate (to save weight and to avoid trapped air) - but it's not necessary.



 Click the picture to enlarge.




I've entered the sanding/filling process to have at smooth surface - using blue epoxy filler and yellowish polyester filler.


It's a lot easier and quicker - and plenty sufficient - to use polyester filler only.











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More sanding and filling ...


Please notice the spray can. It's probably not the exact right colour (RAL 2004, Pure Orange), but it's good enough for me. According to the "Starboard Color Guide Chart" the right colour is "Orange 021 C".











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The upper side of the tail is spray painted.






The cut-outs are spray painted.



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The pads are glued on (with contact cement ("Pattex")) and the straps are fixed.




Ready for the water ...



 Click the pictures to enlarge.



An alternative.


The original thought was to make a couple of separate "prostheses" that could be installed and removed at will. This way you could choose to sail the board as a 2016 iSonic 97 or as a 2017 iSonic 97 in a comparative way. Yes, you could even sail the board with a "prostheses" installed in only one side of the board to have a clear opinion if the 2017 iSonics with the new tail really gives you "... some added float and power for faster and more forgiving jibe ..." compared with the 2016 iSonic (as Starboard claims).


In fact, a couple of "prostheses" were made, and they happened fit my 2016 iSonic 97 nicely. However, as the manufacturing process was pretty elaborate, I chose to illustrate a somewhat simpler way to transform the board.


Imagine if Starboard regularly released some "retro-fit" kits, so that you could update your older iSonic. Lets see, if the alternatives were to replace your iSonic 2016 with the brand new 2017 model (suggested net prize: 1500 Euro), or to buy an "iSonic 2016 to 2017 tail retrofit" kit from Starboard (suggested prize: 150 Euro) - what would you choose?


Well, probably just a Fata Morgana.