Industry News 10/30/2014

B$Z: Mercedes-Benz Intent on Becoming #1 Tow Surfboard Manufacturer

The MBoard project, started by Mercedes-Benz in 2013, ultimately resulted in the production of four boards of a model named “The Silver Arrow of the Seas”. Designed by BBDO Portugal, these boards were developed in partnership with Garrett McNamara for the North Canyon Project and the Mercedes-Benz Design Studio. This was a joint effort, in which dozens of design, research, aerodynamics and materials development specialists helped manufacture the ideal board to surf big waves in Nazaré.

In 2014, Mercedes-Benz is taking this challenge further by designing a surfboard entirely made of a local material, traditionally used to manufacture bottle stoppers, whose efficacy, resistance and durability have been proven in a wide range of projects developed all over the world, namely in the aerospace, automobile and textile industries. We are obviously talking of Portuguese cork.

In order to produce a surfboard entirely made of cork, we decided to resort to the expertise of the world’s largest cork producer, Corticeira Amorim, a company recognised by its long experience in product research and development, an effort partly undertaken by Amorim Cork Composites.

This sustainable material appeared an obvious choice to Garrett, who affirmed that cork is “a highly resistant material, although sufficiently flexible to withhold the impact of big waves”. According to Garrett McNamara, “since Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer, it makes perfect sense to use this material to make high-performance surfboards for surfing in Nazaré. When we surf big waves, we need a flexible board, although resistant enough not to break. It is an honour for me to be involved in the innovative MBoard Project developed by Mercedes-Benz, which now has the support of Corticeira Amorim, as well as the advanced technology of Polen Surfboards.”

Garrett McNamara currently holds the record for the biggest wave ever surfed, having secured himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records. Garrett used boards designed by Mercedes-Benz in 2013 to surf big waves in Nazaré at 62.4 km/h, a staggering speed whose measurement was only made possible by the use of a telemetry system developed by Mercedes-Benz within the scope of the MBoard Project.

According to Carlos de Jesus, Communications Manager at Corticeira Amorim, “Corticeira Amorim is proud to be involved in this project, which proves that Portuguese companies are able to develop and produce innovative products that meet the quality and design standards of the most demanding companies in the world”. Carlos de Jesus also stressed that “the technical performance of natural cork and, in this particular case, of the Corecork range, is doubtlessly an important asset for extreme sports enthusiasts, namely extreme surfers. Cork also boasts environmentally friendly and sustainable characteristics, which are even more relevant when considering that these products are being targeted at the surfing community, one of the first groups to acknowledge the importance of these issues.”

According to Álvaro Costa, from Polen Surfboards, "it is very important and gratifying for Polen to be able to participate in this Mercedes-Benz initiative, as it represents an opportunity for us to engage in research and development in a field in which we have operated for more than 25 years. Only within the scope of a project of this size can certain materials, techniques and technologies be studied and put to the test.”

“We have been collaborating closely with Garrett McNamara, a surfer who has spent most of his life surfing big waves and who has provided us with essential knowledge. This partnership not only contributes to add credibility to this initiative, but also validates all the efforts undertaken within the scope of this project, supported by companies such as Amorim Cork Composites.”

“Together, we are researching new manufacturing techniques, with a view to creating a unique surfboard, different from any other surfboard ever made. We intend to produce two incredibly effective surfboards, specifically designed to withstand the most extreme conditions. This Portuguese initiative will not only represent a milestone for Polen Surfboards, but also a turning moment in the world’s surfing history."

Production of a surfboard in a highly resistant foam

Regarding the foam traditionally used in the aerospace industry, which will be used to make a new surfboard for Garrett, it should be stressed that the technological characteristics of this material will allow the manufacturing of a board without a stringer (a longitudinal component often found inside the surfboard, which allows for ideal robustness and flexibility). Garrett McNamara expects this surfboard to boast “…maximum flexibility without loss of strength, in order to withstand big waves at the Nazaré North Canyon”. Polen Surfboards is also involved in the development of this board for Garrett, within the scope of the MBoard Project.

According to Parker Borneman, CEO of Varial Surf Technology - "Varial Foam is the world's first advanced aerospace foam core designed specifically for surfboards. This new high modulus core technology yields a stronger, lighter, more responsive board - while enabling a larger range of custom flex patterns."

To Jorge Aguiar, Marketing Manager at Mercedes-Benz, “the MBoard Project 1.0, developed in 2013 with the support of the Daimler Group Design Centre, resulted in the production of the first board (MBoard 1.0) specifically designed for surfing big waves in Nazaré, based on Portuguese technology. In 2014, we intend to develop two new boards (MBoard 2.0 and MBoard 3.0), based on the results achieved by Garrett with the MBoard 1.0 at the Nazaré North Canyon.”

“For this purpose, we have established partnerships with two Portuguese companies, Corticeira Amorim and Polen Surfboards. We would like this to be a Portuguese project, although with global impact, since we believe we will most likely become the best towboard manufacturers in the world.”

“With these two unique surfboards we are seeking to find the perfect balance between weight, flexibility and speed, in order to allow Garrett to surf the famous North Canyon waves again, something we believe will happen soon.”

“We should seek to stand out from our competitors when building a brand targeted at our customers and prospective customers, in order to encourage greater proximity between the Brand, the products and the consumers. In this sense, the MBoard Project has already accomplished these goals, both in Portugal and abroad.  We are obviously making history in the surfing world, just like Garrett McNamara did when he surfed the biggest wave in Nazaré.  Above all, working with Garrett has been a privilege and an opportunity to learn even more. We expect to find out how the new technology used in these two surfboards will improve performance in the near future,” affirmed Jorge Aguiar.

Mercedes-Benz establishes partnership with to develop new features

In addition to the development of the two aforementioned surfboards, other news give an account of the increasingly close relationship between Mercedes-Benz and the surfing world. This month, Mercedes-Benz will be presenting a new project, developed in partnership with, whose scope included the development of new features on this website, accessed daily by thousands of surfers seeking waves and news. In addition to Live HD Cams, which broadcast live images from several beaches all over the country, the portal will now include real-time weather information, as a result of the installation of weather stations on all main beaches in Portugal. Users will thus be able to access this information for free, in order to find out which beaches offer the best conditions. Moreover, users will also be able to access an exclusive Mercedes-Benz news channel containing information specifically targeted at the vast surfing community.

According to Jorge Aguiar, “Mercedes-Benz has been rejuvenated. In addition to being the most recognised automobile brand in Portugal, Mercedes-Benz offers the widest range of models aimed at this target group. In this sense, and because we wish to forge increasingly closer relationships with our customers, we were the first automobile company to develop an information platform specifically aimed at ocean lovers.

According to Vasco Silva, Director of Beachcam Portugal, “it gives us great pleasure to present the new, developed in partnership with Mercedes-Benz. This partnership will bring a wealth of benefits to the entire surfing community, which, as we know, relies heavily not only on sea conditions, but also on weather conditions.”

Mercedes-Benz becomes official sponsor of the North Canyon Project

In line with the large surfing events organised in Portugal and recognising the increasing popularity and potential of this sport, Mercedes-Benz and Nazaré Qualifica have recently signed a sponsorship agreement for the North Canyon Project. Mercedes-Benz is thus very proud to have once again been chosen by Nazaré Qualifica to transport the bold surfers who accompany Garrett McNamara.

According to the Mayor of Nazaré, Walter Chicharro, “Nazaré, a location where the earth and the sea have been one and the same since time immemorial, is currently a spot not to be missed by the global surfing community. In this sense, we are extremely pleased to have Mercedes-Benz as our partner for the second consecutive year and feel grateful for their commitment to producing boards specifically designed for surfing big waves at the Nazaré North Canyon.”

The North Canyon Project by Garrett and his team will take place at the North Beach, in Nazaré, from October to November 2014. Several international surfers will join this event for the opportunity to surf big waves in Nazaré, in an attempt to set a new world record.