Have you ever wondered what goes into producing the tackle, gear and accessories we use today? Anglers and boaters often take for granted the tremendous effort it requires to engineer, design and manufacturer the countless components that combine to enhance our on-the-water experiences. You name it, and somewhere in Florida a team of skilled craftsmen are dedicated to producing the finest equipment imaginable. We wanted to learn more about these professionals and about the products they specialize in. We’re confident that you, too, will be fascinated with what we discover in our ongoing investigation.
Imagine yourself perched atop a casting platform, sizing up an aggressive school of game fish. It’s taken you all morning to locate inshore angling’s greatest spectacle, but the wait is finally over. You’re about to fire off a cast to the tipping and tailing predators when you notice your leader has a slight chafe that deserves consideration. After cutting out the damaged section you instinctively slide your trusty pliers into their sheath without taking your eyes off the gamesters wreaking havoc in the nearby shallows. In your nervousness the pliers slip from your hand and crash on the gelcoat, which sends an unwelcoming reverberation through the water. The feisty game fish are now well aware of your presence and the pre-dawn hours you spent preparing and searching for rod-bending excitement now prove to be futile as your target have high-tailed it to the deeper depths of the forage-rich flats edge.
The advantage of EVA closed cell foam is that it will not absorb water, snag hooks, tear, and it’s also UV and algae resistant.
While every boat is equipped with a non-slip tread pattern—whether formulated from a paint, coating, tape, spray, or molded-in pattern—there’s a new name in town that offers a unique and innovative alternative. Based in Rockledge, FL, Hyperform Inc. is the proud manufacturer of SeaDek, a durable, UV protected, algae inhibited, non-absorbent closed cell EVA foam that’s specially formulated for the harsh marine environment. Providing the ultimate in sound deadening attributes, while simultaneously providing maximum comfort on the water, this product deserves ultimate consideration for any and every inshore enthusiast. Ask anyone who routinely spends long days on the water and they will surely tell you the importance of being comfortable and stealthy while searching out highly-prized predators. With dedicated anglers constantly looking for a competitive edge, it’s no surprise the latest advancements in non-skid offer beneficial performance and comfort factors that make your time on the water as enjoyable and advantageous as possible.
Hyperform Inc. came to fruition in the early 80s, although their original focus was on fabricating EVA traction pads for the surfing industry under the label X-Trak. Quickly gaining success and popularity as one of the leading manufacturers of surfboard traction, they branched out into sailboard pads, wakeboard pads, kiteboard pads and many other EVA products for athletes who perform in the demanding marine environment. With the initial success in the extreme sports industry it wasn’t long before they reached out to the boating industry. Now going strong in only their fifth year, SeaDek offers a versatile alternative to traditional non-skid and has quickly created a place for itself in a market where there are few practical options.
Whether it’s a pre-cut kit for a helm station, transom, coaming bolster, rod storage, cooler, deck, platform, or completely custom design, the process starts with sheets of marine-grade closed cell EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam. The advantage of EVA closed cell foam is that it will not absorb water, snag hooks, tear, and it’s also UV and algae resistant. Depending on the desired application and area to cover, it’s offered in 3mm to over 20mm thick pads, providing tremendous cushioning when kneeling, sitting or standing, not to mention sound dampening attributes that allow anglers to sneak up on spooky game fish. Working with premier leaders in the marine industry such as Mako Marine, Dolphin Boats, Boston Whaler, Yeti Coolers, Maverick Boats, East Cape Canoes, Beavertail Skiffs and SeaDoo just to name a few, SeaDek has pre-cut templates for numerous makes and models, however, custom orders can also be performed. If a custom order is desired a template must be digitized and formulated into a CAD (computer aided design) (Image 1). Depending on the desired size and detail of the particular application, customers can purchase a template kit, trace over the specific area with a sheet of clear Mylar and send it to SeaDek (Image 2). There are, however, professional installers such as Castaway Customs (www.castawaycustoms.com) that work closely with SeaDek and will travel the state far and wide, offering in-the-field digitizing services. When the digitized file is created into a template the manufacturing process can begin.
Sheets of EVA foam are first laminated with a water-based latex contact cement (Image 3). Next a robust PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) backing is applied (Image 4) and the laminated material is taken to a thermoform embossing station. Thermoform embossing is the process that forms the tread pattern through the use of an etched metal roller. This task utilizes heat and pressure to not only mold the tread, but to also squeeze out any air-bubbles while heating the glue to create a solid bond (Image 5).
Next the laminated and embossed sheets of EVA are ready to be beveled and cut to exacting specifications. While various roller dies and stamp presses were once relied upon for this stage, technological advancements and progressive CNC machines (Image 6) are gradually phasing out the age old die-cut techniques, as they are much more suitable for producing large volumes. In this advanced warehouse numerous automated and streamlined production techniques are utilized to eliminate defects while simultaneously requiring less human reliance.
The advanced CNCs utilize various routers and bits to create custom logos. The beauty of working with EVA foam is that two different colors of foam can be laminated together, which allows a skilled technician to route down the top layer of foam and engrave contrasting logos, while also offering a two-tone beveled edge (Image 7).
The final products are carefully scrutinized and inspected for any minor defects before being heat shrink-wrapped and shipped to boaters around the world (Image 8). While professional installation is available, SeaDek is easy to apply and its peel-and-stick backing requires no mounting hardware. Customers also have the option of purchasing raw sheet material—simply measure, cut, peel and stick.
As the popularity of SeaDek continues to increase and the brand continues to expand its product offerings, expect to see big things from them in the future. With increasing demand, they’re currently in the process of expanding their warehouse and hoping to soon incorporate in-house fabrication where customers can drop off their skiffs and return to a vessel properly equipped with a soft, flexible and durable non-skid alternative.
While solid color foam kits are the most commonly ordered products their new line of faux teak is quickly becoming a hot commodity (Image 9). While natural teak wood adds a classic and refined look to any vessel, anyone who has worked with this costly material knows there are many downsides to the contemporary look. Teak is very expensive and installation is extremely labor intensive. The other downside to authentic teak is the maintenance required to keep it looking new. Faux teak is the latest and greatest must have and gives boaters the look of real teak wood while eliminating the maintenance nightmares. Created with specially designed blades and bits, the recently released faux teak offers remarkably realistic wood grain patterns. Whether you are looking to cover the cockpit of a sportfishing boat or the interior cabin on a cruiser, faux teak is a great option that’s not only cost effective but maintenance free.
Easy to clean and highly stain resistant, SeaDek provides unbeatable traction and shock absorption. And while comfort on the water is great, it is likely the sound-dampening and stealth enhancing attributes die-hard anglers will appreciate the most.