Surfing business brothers Ricky and Chris Martin know their business.

Passionate about the sport the pair identified a problem with equipment and decided to look at innovative ways of helping their customers.

Ricky owns the Alive Surf School in Portrush and is in constant contact with beginner surfers and both brothers own The Skunk Works Surfboard Company.

Between them they wanted to find out whether a better board could be made for beginner surfers.

Chris explained: “It all started with a throw away comment – there must be a better way.

“In surfing, beginners’ surf boards are made from foam. It’s ideal as they are very buoyant and allow the beginners to catch the waves.

“The disadvantages are that they are extremely vulnerable to the elements where laminate peels away, polysterene snaggs; the bottom line is the durability isn’t there and we wanted to change that.

“After months of research into foam and dealing with the inherent problems of surf boards we knew what we wanted to do.

“The difficulty was we were going to have to find a way of building our own tools first as nobody was doing what we really wanted to do.”

From left Mark Hutchinson (MD of Hutchinson Engineering),  Ricky Martin (Skunk Works), Richard Hutchinson (Hutchinson Engineering) and Chris Martin (Skunk Works).

From left Mark Hutchinson (MD of Hutchinson Engineering), Ricky Martin (Skunk Works), Richard Hutchinson (Hutchinson Engineering) and Chris Martin (Skunk Works).

Eventually Chris and Ricky realised that teaming up with an existing company was going to be more beneficial than trying to complete the whole project themselves.

They got in contact with Kilrea based Hutchinson Engineering.

“Finally we realised the answer was as simple as finding out who our local engineering company was and talking to them” said Chris, adding: “I have to say we were very lucky to have Hutchinson Engineering and their H360 team on our doorstep.

“They have occasionally challenged us pointing out what wouldn’t work or asking us to look at things from a different perspective but not being an engineer actually helped as I’ve then went back with a different design and we got around the issue another way and with their assistance, of course.

“Our machinery is now custom designed and built. We don’t use any glues or adhesives in our production, we only use hot air to make our boards and we now have a patent pending in the United States and are just about to get our patent application finalised in the UK and Europe.

“The Hutchinson team have been great and we are one step closer to the ultimate beginners surf board, we know this will revolutionise how soft surfboards are made.”

Mark Hutchinson, Managing Director of Hutchinson Group said: “I know there is still some work to be completed I believe that the finished product is nearly there.

“This is a great example of what we do best in our H360 team, we take someone’s concept and make it a design reality.”

The Skunk Works Surfboard Company has also recently received interest from Californian investors.

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