Having laid our hands on a fresh copy of the exclusive Simmer distributor PDF file, where the cooperation between Simmer and mXr is formally announced, by way of the all-new mXr range. We thought we’d best ask the creators of the boards for more detail.
Photos: courtesy of Jeffrey Leeflang
mXr is a GPS oriented brand in the making, set-up by Ron van den Berg and Martin van Meurs. Keen to learn more about the thoughts behind the Simmer/mXr project, we thought we’d best start right at the source: the Van den Berg Surf shop in Hoorn, Holland, birthplace of the famous Van den Berg boards. We set up a Boardseeker Skype-date to tap into the minds of Ron and Martin.
The workshop in which the Van den Berg boards were built is the birthplace of the new mXr windsurf boards. The prototypes are made by hand, tested, altered, ratified and 3D scanned for production in one of the biggest shops in Holland. Owned by Stephan van den Berg. The first Olympic champion in windsurfing has run the shop for years, together with his brother Ron. Just like Martin, Ron wanted to follow his passion and decided to fully commit to the new brand they wanted to set-up. From moment one onward it was clear to them they should break free from conventions to justify another brand in a crowded market.
Their efforts were noted by Simmer Style boss Tomas Persson. Soon after they decided to team up and combine strength. So be sure to check out the PDF preview attached to this article as we carry on from where the Simmer boss finished.
In his introduction Tomas Persson is making a clear statement by saying control = speed. Do you guys agree with this statement?
This is the basis of our cooperation, so yes we agree. When we met last year we talked about complexity of the sport we all love. The emphasis of racing gear is leaning more and more towards maximizing power. While this might be good for the very best pro riders in the World we doubt whether the same applies for average day racers. In multiple statements of the major brands you see variations on one theme; the fastest shape ever made.
We don’t think fast or faster can be measured that easily in windsurfing. In the end it all comes down to control. Any rider in control will be faster than a windsurfer riding a board which has got a theoretical higher end speed but is difficult to handle and needs massive power to control. Windsurfing is a technical sport and end speed is often more related to skill and mental issues than anything else. Sometimes it’s plain scary to push to the limits in real life conditions. In theory, increased power combined with lower drag increases speed, but without control the potential speed can never be reached. We showed Tomas the concept we had been working on and he understood in a blink of the eye what we were aiming for.
The sections described in the PDF divide the boards in three parts. When looking at the points mentioned and the way they are put in writing, it seems as if marketing is playing a big role as well.
Sure, if you look at marketing as wording in a clear and understandable way what you are trying to express, marketing is playing a big role. But all drama aside, we do understand what you mean. It does seem too good to be true and the wording on the X-steps for sure has got a large marketing value. In our defense we’d like to say the following: test if the words are true. We’re not claiming we have created the fastest boards in the World, but the boards have got an excellent top speed like postings on www.gps-speedsurfing.com already have shown. Furthermore this top speed is easy to achieve for experienced and less experienced riders alike. We put some less skilled riders on the boards and all clearly increased their personal speed, sometimes by multiple knots in a single session. We fully stand behind the words expressed in the Simmer preview. We have tested the way the different sections work for over a year in all kinds of conditions and we firmly stand behind all words expressed.
If we understand the words the right way, you guys claim an increase in control on all vital aspects in windsurfing. Again, don’t you think it’s strange others have not thought of the solutions you claim to have found?
When thinking through the concept we realised the market has been moving into a given direction for years without any visible major changes, but lately there seems to be a movement into a new direction. It seems as if fear is put aside a little and there are signs of a new sort of consciousness forming in our little industry. Hypes won’t bring you far though and the public is knowledgeable enough to see through gimmicks presented to them as inventions that can help them to raise their level. We can only hope people keep an open mind on our solutions. Luckily we’ve got GPS in our back to prove our point. In the past you needed to buy the best and hence most expensive riders in the market to put your money where your mouth was, but what did or does it really mean? Sure, the best want to have the best gear and most have got the experience to fine tune their gear to perfection, but one can wonder if the best gear for the top riders is also the best for the rest. It was this thought that formed the basis of our brainstorm sessions leading up to our new X-step concept.
Step hulls are not new are they? When looking at motorboats you have clearly been inspired by them and also in the past windsurfing has seen the strangest of concepts including stepped hulls. Why do you feel you would succeed this time and why do you think your concept is as unique as you claim?
You’re right, stepped hulls are a pretty common on the waters around the World and yes in the past they were also used in Windsurfing. We’d like to think the answers lie in the details. They have been expressed pretty clear in the Simmer document. In the end it’s clearly the end consumer who should judge if the claims we make are valid or not. All we can say is that the steps and the way they have been implemented (the X-step solution) do serve a purpose on all points mentioned.
Point taken, time will tell if your thoughts will be accepted. Let’s leave the steps behind and focus on another remarkable point that came to our mind when thinking about the concept. Simmer and mXr potentially could become competitors fighting each other to try and sell the same products.
Obviously this has been part of the conversations we had with Tomas Persson. However, from the start onward it became clear both parties understood this wouldn’t be the case. Simmer does have the advantage, they don’t have to hire an expensive development team and we knew upfront we wanted to set-up our own high level mXr composite production facility with a limited capacity. We are working with extremely talented craftsmen that have got a fantastic history in sailing. Also in manufacturing we want to set ourselves apart from the current standard and this automatically doesn’t lead to mass production but to smaller numbers that can be made. Effectively this means we aim at the end consumer interested in the high end of the market. In the car market there are clear examples like for instance Toyota and Lexus or Pininfarina designing for Ferrari and other more common brands. Different car brands are using the same platforms. It’s a logical way to increase the possibility to put in more time and effort into development.
As we can only make a limited number of boards per year we cherish a pretty unique cooperation on our high level boards with one of the major players in the industry in order to be able to meet demands for our designs. That’s the way we’d like to look at this journey. Simmer is a dream partner, while still staying independent and free to develop windsurf gear from our heart. But at all we do we will keep a close look on this marvelous brand with a great history in windsurfing. We’re very proud Simmer acknowledged our efforts by buying into the first designs we made.
So you are planning to make more designs?
Sure we do. We will create various lines in near future. Our open water speedline is nearing completion and looks fantastic! We just had our first session on the new 54 and 60 wide Rockstar boards and got in our first day victory with raving reports on the control of the boards from our test pilots. The rockstar series is our speedboard range starting with traditional fixed course little speed rockets between 40 to 46cm wide and moving into open water extremely loose sailing canons between 50 to 60cm wide. The standing easy sailing freerace/GPS Monster and Godzilla range will be widened. We’re also working on a slalom range and a freeride range. The first three models are just the tip of the iceberg. At all times Simmer will get the first choice to lay their hands on our designs.
It seems you are pretty open about developments which didn’t even hit the market just yet. Is that another tactical move on your side?
If you want to look at it that way it’s fine with us. The way we set up our business, we will be able to collect lots of data for specific conditions and people with different weights. We hope the mXr buyers will not only be customers but also test pilots for mXr. The refined products will be handed out to Simmer, if Simmer is interested. This in itself is a pretty unique situation as boards will be moved away from a closed test circuit, with limited feedback from riders who have fixed skills and demands in fixed conditions (mostly Hawaii).
Aren’t you afraid competition will steal your thoughts?
By being open we indeed stand a small chance competitors will lay their hands on products while we test and collect comments from the early adopters. At the same time we say, who cares? Everyone can see who made the original if others would like to copy, and it could also be seen as a confirmation mXr is making pretty nice products. The windsurfing industry sometimes seems to be built on fear. We do not want to follow that route. We’re not afraid to share information. We all have a common interest and that’s promoting our wonderful sport and making it easier and more accessible for the people who enjoy it. We’re all grown-ups and copying shouldn’t be part of what you are doing. Obviously everyone is influenced by others and as long as you acknowledge the work others put into development all is good. In the end it’s not the business that counts, but the commitment and the soul. But obviously for a brand there cannot be soul without sales, so we need to keep our feet on the ground to start up our brand and we need to work hard to make windsurfing gear we hope people are going to appreciate over time.
Only truly interested followers will be able to get their hands on one of the designs and potentially get an edge over others as our maximum capacity to produce boards at our own mXr composite plant will be extremely limited. If we feel a given design can't be bettered, we will offer the boards to Simmer as our first and possibly only windsurf boards partner.
Will you be only focusing on boards or are you planning to make other products as well?
Our fin line is nearing completion. Frenchman Olivier Ponrouch is going to be our chief fin designer and we will proudly present some exiting new products from his hands soon enough. We are in the midst of a thrilling process and are open to try and better every aspect of our sport.
With this in mind it seems the team behind mXr truly have their sights set and are working around the clock to bring an incredibly exciting new concept to the beaches near you. Keep a close eye out here as we bring the news releases to you first, including a follow up on their new fin concept.
All photos are courtesy of Jeffrey Leeflang. Jeffrey is probably one of the most passionate windsurfers of our time, capturing many special moments from behind the lens really shows his passion, dedication and commitment to this sport. Of which this can be extremely hard for an outsider to comprehend, but when it can be portrayed through perfectly captured images and videos, you begin to grasp an idea of what it means to that individual. If you wish to find out more about the boards then be sure to contact Martin directly by emailing email@example.com