Interviews Edith Danzer

Published on May 4th, 2015 | by PhilB

Photo by Edith Danzer |  0

Delight Alliance: Most Durable Surfboards for River Surfers

Gerwin is shaping surfboards — in the heart of the Alps, deep in the Austrian jungle. It may come to your surprise, but the most durable and innovative surfboards are being shaped in the least expected places. Here’s what Gerwin, co-founder of “delight alliance” has to say about his approach to river surfboard shaping.

We’re pretty curious about the name “delight alliance” and how it all began. What exactly is delight alliance and where does the name come from?

Delight alliance is a small surfboard shaping company based in Salzburg, Austria. We focus on river surfboards and boards for surfers who would like to improve their ocean surfing skills. The name “delight alliance” comes from the delight you feel while surfing and the alliance of surfers with whom we share our passion.

Love the idea behind the name! When was delight alliance founded and how did you come up with the idea of shaping surfboards?

The first boards were built in 2007 in a small workshop in Kuchl, Austria, close to a popular river surfing spot on the river Salzach. The regular ocean boards were good, but not 100% suitable for rivers, this is where the idea of developing and building a specific board for this wave came to us. This was the beginning of the “vonda” shape, this shape is still available and it is the allrounder shape suitable for almost every wave out there. A few years later the HD-rails and FixPlugs were invented to make our boards more durable against stones and concrete.

So it sounds like your shaping was driven by the specific needs of river surfers. What is your shaping philosophy at delight alliance?

We are shaping surfboards suitable for river surfers and land locked surfers. When we develop or improve a shape, we always think about every aspect of the surfboard, the hydrodynamics, impact forces, static lift, dynamic lift, water speed and much more. Getting all of these elements into one board isn’t always easy.

So, you guys use machine shaping, right? What are the advantages compared to hand shaping?

In order to develop boards we have to be able to build the same board over and over again. The shaping machine we are using is pre-shaping our blanks which allows us to be as precise as possible. In my opinion that’s the only way to develop boards seriously. There are of course a hand full of shapers who would be able to do the same by hand, but like I said just a hand full. So in order to develop the best river surf boards you need a shaping machine and anybody that has built a board knows that although the blank is pre-shaped it is still a lot of work, and there is always a special connection with every board built.

Do you think that river surfers need specific boards that differ from ocean surfboards? What makes a good river surfboard?

Yes, I do! If you take skiing for example, you wouldn’t be happy with a powder ski whilst doing a slalom race, different types of skis offer a better performance for certain types of terrain or style … the same is true for surfboards.

River surfboards tend to be shorter and with less volume, this means that there is less static lift which isn’t needed so much as it is in the ocean. River surfers benefit more from the dynamic lift, this is created by the water speed as well as some other aspects such as surface area, angle and tail shape etc.

Delight alliance is by many regarded as an innovative board producer. What is so unique about the boards you build?

What makes a big difference is that river surfers are surrounded by stones and concrete, regular boards don’t like that. That’s exactly why we invented the HD-rails (“hau drauf” rails), a rail reinforcement with kevlar, the same material also used in bulletproof vests. It increases the durability compared to a regular board by three times. Some of the waves work with a spoiler (e.g. sheet-flow waves), on waves like this you can easily destroy your fin boxes. So this is why we are using a technique called FixPlugs to distribute the force on a bigger surface — the fin boxes don’t break that easily.

This durability approach sounds pretty useful for river surfing. What are the most popular models of delight alliance?

The Vonda & Fluky Bastard. The Vonda is the allrounder shape and can be used for almost every wave out there. The Fluky Bastard is the shape created for powerful surfing on faster waves like Eisbach, Citywave or Alm.

Which riders are part of the delight alliance team?

Our HD technology makes our boards three times more durable than standard surfboards.

We are working together with some of Europe’s best river surfers. Kathy Gappmayr, two time European champion has been riding delight alliance boards since her very beginning and we are very happy to have such an all-round talent like her in our team! Young gun Lukas Haigermoser is one of Austrian’s best river surfers and we are really excited by his talent and think he will close the gap on the really strong Eisbach-surfers this year! He is very engaged in board developing, there are always crazy ideas in his head!

Steve Ratzisberger just joined our team, his radical surfing style is great to watch. We are excited to work with him and get all his input. We are also supporting some grom riders which is really exciting to see the up and coming talent for the future.

You are based in Austria, right? Do you also sell the boards internationally? Where can river surfers buy delight alliance boards?

We are located in Salzburg, Austria, in the middle of the Alps, pretty uncommon for a surfboard shaper. We are selling our boards all over Europe. In the future we would like to sell to North America as well, but we need to do some paperwork first. Delight alliance boards can be ordered online, you can call or visit us in our workshop.

Are you also partnering with specific brands (fins, gear) or shops?

We try to support the local brands, there are so many creative people who sell amazing products around us. driftwood fins, brick beanies, NU.ART surfstuff and of course Riverbreak. We share our experience with the local communities that are planning to build waves. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL WAVE!

What advice would you give to people looking for the right river surfboard?

The river surfboard best for you does not only depend on your style, we also look at the type of wave you regularly ride on. But the most important thing is that you feel comfortable on your board.

How often do you hit the river waves yourself?

As often as I can! I get really grumpy if I haven’t managed to get on my board for a couple of days.

What does the future hold for delight alliance surfboards?

Tricky question! If we knew, life would be a lot easier! But we will do everything with the same passion for surfing like we have been doing for the past 8 years. Then I believe we will have a lot of fun doing what we are doing. Of course, we will try to get more waves, so that everyone gets as much surf time as he or she wants.

Anything else you want to pass on to our readers?

Stay hungry!

Delight Alliance
DI (FH) Gerwin Andreas MSc.
5020 Salzburg

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Phil is a passionate riversurfer based in the capital of urban hydro power, Graz / Austria. He graduated from the International University for Riversurfing (IUR) in 2008 before he got married (to PhilK) in 2009. Instead of children, they gave birth to the probably most awesome riversurfing magazine on the planet: Riverbreak.

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