Kevlar Layups and Wave Pool Laybacks with Davi Toledo


Akin to the highly contested topics of politics, sports, and federal laws, you can spark a heated discussion by raising the topic of wave pools in professional surfing. What happens when the element of Mother Nature is removed, replaced by the mind of an engineer and the blade of a hydrofoil? Does understanding wave refraction across reefs not only require pivotal knowledge but also separate the seasoned locals from the transients? Alas, the wave pool is not the ocean and won't capture the spontaneity of Mother Nature. Yet, replication supplemented by wave pool technology may usher in a new era of surfboard testing.


Brazilian QS aficionado Davi Toledo ventured to a spot where the swell never ceases: Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch. Cognizant of his itinerary, we snuck a new Carbon Kevlar PU/EPS core model into his travel bag, a JT Variant model. We created this design from a previous iteration used by Samuel Pupo; it's a high-performance pulled-in swallow tail. Alongside our Carbon Kevlar build stood a poly construction board, which provided variety and allowed for comparisons to be drawn across materials. 


Several days of carbon-copy swells provided conditions meeting a near scientific-grade analysis of the varying materials. On the phone, Davi explained that before breaking out the wax, his first impression was that the new Dark Arts technology felt a little heavier than the full-EPS core boards that Dark Arts made previously [this is due to a density change in the foam core and Kevlar layup weight]. A familiar weight underarm, coupled with a sharp edge out the tail, contributed to an optimism, Davi noted, that increased excitement for his day of testing and spiced up his typical training routine.



The first morning at the Surf Ranch was crisp and offshore. Davi recalled pumping down the line on the first wave and feeling the new JT Variant out, "A remarkably different feeling." Slicing through the first few carves, he noted that the flex pattern was familiar but slightly more rigid than the boards he had grown up using and riding in competitions. 


He noticed that the Carbon Kevlar's acceleration across the water instilled a slightly more on-top-of-the-water feel but ultimately didn't compromise his ability to sink the rail when leaning into a turn. The most definitive difference was, for him, the spring that came from the materials underneath the glass. He elaborated,


"Through turns and snaps, it springs you back into your normal line. It's not just that it's fast, but the real difference is the reaction the Carbon Kevlar presents that you don't find in a standard board."


In gauging the response from a bottom-to-top transition, Davi explained a sensation that mirrored the feedback we had received from a test pilot in Hawaiʻi, Reef Mcintosh. 


"I feel like the stiffer flex shoots me upwards from my bottom turn faster." -Davi Toledo


With a quicker and more reactive ride, he explained that oftentimes, when a poly board required speed generation, the Kevlar board required him to stall in order to pull into the barrel; otherwise, he would outrun it. What makes this specific technology stand out is that it retains that snappiness yet holds more momentum through turns than from a complete carbon-eps core surfboard. The rolling freshwater lines are much smaller than the north-shore overhead conditions we had in previous runs; however, the consensus has been altogether consistent. Quicker reactivity, more drive, and momentum set Carbon Kevlar apart.


So, what about competitions? Davi's brother, Filipe Toledo, took the first iteration of Dark Art's technology to world title fame several years ago at Trestles. Feeling as if this technology could provide an edge to those in a competition format, Davi elaborated that people will definitely appreciate the difference of the Carbon Kevlar, paired with the familiarity of a majority PU core.  With several more stops on the QS this year, we asked him if he considered using a Carbon Kevlar in competition; he said he may have contemplated it.

Dave with Justin Ternes, Dark Arts Founder


Some of the scheduled competitions this year are The WRV Outer Banks Pro in late August and a tentative Santa Cruz competition in September. Board selection will be an exciting component of this year's QS events.


We wish Davi the best in his endeavors throughout this year and are grateful for his seal of approval on our new technology. As wave pools provide a utopia for board testing, Dark Arts is thankful for the opportunity to reflect on the nuances of Carbon Kevlar and pinpoint its differences. And, after watching footage of Davi, we might be heading up to the Surf Ranch personally to do some testing... for business purposes, of course.

 Davi with Dark Arts Grom Fans..  Thank you Davi for stopping by and stoking out the kiddos.