The second instalment of Van Der Waal is here. It’s called the Performance Series 2.0 and it’s better than winning the prize hen at an auction. That’s right, this stuff is the absolute business.
I have felt somewhat cheated in the past, I (even though I am supposed to the boss) have been the last member of our team to get my hands on Van Der Waal and try it out. There have been cries of brilliance from the rest of them.
“oooo, it’s changed the way I surf” and all that.
I have had to look on with gritted teeth and just nod.
Then the guys got in contact and told me they had released a Van Der Waal 2.0. A better version. I was determined to be at the very front of the queue this time. And I was. Below are my findings along with a little context.
Martim and Alfonso
These guys are the brains and brawn behind Van Der Waal, they are actually two of the most wholeheartedly nice people that I have ever come across in the surf industry. I met them both before I had tried the grip, I had seen the product and had my own reservations but after a coffee and a chat, I found myself wanting to like it, already turned by their ethos, countenance and outlook of surfing life. I already wanted to like the little hexes.
Martim and Alfonso hail from the Lisbon area of Portugal and produce all the Van Der Waal packaging, hexes and artwork on site.
Martim surfs and has a great network of people to help with the testing of new versions but he is not content to stop there, and uses folks far and wide to test different water temperatures, conditions, types of surfboard. It is enough for me to say, these guys don’t do anything by halves.
Alfonso works in the production of the actual project and is more like the ‘mad scientist’ of the two, constantly tinkering and trying to improve the product. The thing is, from where I am sitting, there is not much to improve on.
How many Hexes do you need and how about putting them on?
One of the questions we always get asked, hell one I didn’t know the answer until I started. The answer is simple, it all depends on your preference. How you surf, what board it is, if you use a tail pad.
To make the whole process as simple as possible the guys at Van Der Waal have come up with a nifty calculator which I found to be within 2% accurate. All you have to do is input :
- Board Length - Board width - Full Board / Half board - If you use a deck Pad or Not
The calculator will do the rest. It worked for me. I have a 6’0 Lis inspired fish shaped by Nico at Wavegliders, which is wide. I used 46 hexes but might have got away with 42 or 44. The calculator was spot on. If you want to play around with it, check it out here.
Does it work?
Ahem, not wishing to sound like a broken record, but in this man’s humble opinion, it is a game changer. I strode into this review (like most) with an idea the hexes might be ‘as good’ as wax. I was wrong.
The Van Der Waal is actually better than wax, which blew me away, it really did. I love wax, I have been making my own for a while, tinkering with stickiness, smell, colour and even recycling old wax. I know a bit about wax and now find myself wondering why I bothered. It was all in vain, I am not sure I will put wax on my board ever again.
How can it be better than wax I hear you crow. I will do my best here but it’s like trying to explain how it feels to sky-dive if you have never done it. After your first few waves you will understand. There is a new kind of confidence that the hexes give you, a surety that you will not slip at almost any angle or pressure. Sure, at some point you will slip, but in this way it does surpass the grip of the stickiest wax.
Along with the increased stick and an unexpected kind of ‘side bonus’ was the feel of the hexes on the base of my feet. Almost a massaging, reassuring feel that does its best to imitate deck grip on a skateboard. Again, it is a huge confidence booster and gives you the extra push to go just that bit harder or higher.
Let’s look at this in wax terms. A bar of branded wax comes in at about 3 Euros in my local surf shop. A normal shortboard set of 30 hexes (6’0 x 18 board dimensions) will set you back 42 Euros which would buy you 14 bars of wax. That’s pretty spot on as far as price point goes. I guess it depends how much wax you might use in a year. Everyone is different.
The thing about comparing it with wax is, it's not wax (as I have said), it’s better.
Durability / Lifespan
I have only had the stuff on my board for 2 months. It looks fresh new and almost squeaky clean. So I can’t personally comment on the lifespan of Van Der Waal, but a few others in the office have had hexes on their boards for coming up to a year and these are showing no signs of needing to be replaced.
How Easy was it to Apply?
The most difficult thing about applying the Van Der Waal was cleaning the old wax off. Once you have a smooth, clean and dry surface, the hexes are super easy to apply and if you get one wrong, just quickly peel it off and replace. I really thought it would be fiddly, but due to the nature of the hex shape, I found they almost stuck themselves on. Thumbs up, easy.
Advantages as I see it to Van Der Waal
There are a few, so I thought I would list them:
- No more worrying about leaving your board in a hot car and wax running off. - Forgetting your wax is a thing of the past. - Remains clean, no hair, fluff or other debris sticking to your board. - No more changing wax for different water temps. One hex does all. - The stuff is transparent so artwork on your board remains relevant. - Easy to apply and take off- Actually improves grip on your board. - A more eco-friendly alternative then petrochemical wax. - Good ethos, nice people, small company.
Anything they could improve on?
Not being a scientist, I am going to have to stick to the obvious.
- They could make the hexes out of some recycled super eco substance I guess and I am assured that sort of thing is on the ‘to-do’ list.
- The smell, it could smell like wax, I love the smell of wax in the morning. When I raised that with Martim, he told me that they had actually produced a limited series of wax smelling Van Der Waal. Guess what, they did not sell a single pack! Ha.
Where can you buy it?
There are a spattering of shops across some European countries where you can purchase the magical hexes but the best place would be to get them direct from Van der Waal. They boys ship to anywhere and response time is quick and easy.
I can’t sing the praises enough. I will buy more, I love it. It works, you should buy some. If you are hesitant, try it on one board first and if you don’t like it peel it off and send it back.
What? I hear you say. Well, you heard correctly, Martim and Alfonso are so confident (as I am) that you will like the little hexes, if you don’t like them you can peel them off, send them back within 60 days and they will refund you your cash. You really can’t say fairer than that.
As they say in the Van Der Waal office: “ It’s nice to do business with nice people”. Amen to that.