Mark Raaphorst, the legendary shaper and waterman, has greatly influenced the sport with innovative and high-performance downwind and race boards. As a waterman, he has mastered every discipline from windsurfing to outrigger to SUP and foiling and now takes his own experience and input from elite racers to shape world-class boards that are known for their acceleration, maneuverability, speed and stability.
Originally from the Netherlands, Mark moved to Hawaii in his youth to pursue his passion for watersports. He worked with renowned shapers before he opened the surfboard repair shop Ding King on Maui in 1994. The shop allowed him to do what he loved: designing and shaping boards. In 2005, he founded the board manufacturing company SIC. Since then, Mark has been designing and constructing boards for racers and paddlers all over the world, always pushing the limits on shape, design and performance.
So, let’s jump right in: For the 2020 SIC collection, you have taken some very fast and successful boards like the RS and the iconic Bullet and made them even faster. Can you talk about the changes? Let’s start with the RS.
The old days of “surfing” a SUP board down a swell by stepping back and riding it like a longboard seem to lose some traction. A higher average speed can be maintained by riding a board with a flatter rocker and mainly riding it from the center cockpit area. Keep up the paddle cadence and get to the finish line faster. The 2020 SIC RS answers to that trend. Lower cockpit, flatter rocker, more all-water type performance.
Over the years, the Bullet has been THE downwind board. It has been extremely popular on Hawaiian waters including the Maliko run and around the world. What was the process of improving on a classic board like?
Increasing the nose volume derived from the all-water type designs was one of the main changes. Less water onto the deck is the goal. The 2020 SIC Bullet kept the previous year’s rocker and relatively flat deck. In general, it takes quite a few prototypes to get it just right. The devil is in the details.
What role does your own experience, technology and feedback from other paddlers, SUP surfers and foilers play in the shaping process?
Praise is nice to hear but we grow by positive criticism. Competitive paddlers know that the grass is always slightly greener on the other side of the fence. So their input is welcomed. Sometimes, however, ample feedback gets confusing and I go with my gut instinct and previous data to implement or ignore a request to change. Most times the new and updated version is better but sometimes…
There is probably not a single SUP paddler out there who is not intrigued by foiling. You shaped not one but three new foil boards. Which one is best for what conditions?
The quest to stuff as much stability and volume in as short a board as possible is on. Some 200 lbs+ paddlers ride sub 5’ SUP boards here. I now ride a 5’5”x 28”x 98 l. Both in the surf as well as downwind. Note that just 6 months ago I could not phantom that. A 6’ was as small as I could comfortably handle.
You are a true waterman with a background in windsurfing, OC1 paddling, a pioneer in SUP racing and downwinding and now an avid foiler – not to mention your incomparable experience as a shaper. How is foiling different from the other disciplines and what fascinates you most about it?
In a way, my quest to beat an OC-1 or Surfski with an unlimited SUP down a Maliko run has never really materialized. Only in the best of conditions and with certain elite paddlers could we get close.
I find it baffling that we now got there on sub 6’ boards. An OC-1 can do the 9.2 mile run in an average of about 57 minutes. And provided foilers got a +17 knot breeze, we can break the 50-minute mark.
What is the most exciting aspect of the new collection for you?
I like the new RS 14 and the 6’ Manta. The surf collection is beautiful. Our Bayonet still is the most fun downwind board out there.
How does it reflect SIC’s brand-DNA?
We now are a more well-rounded water sports brand carrying surf, foil, paddleboard and accessories. All sharp and well-considered in design and construction.
The DNA is about creating the toys for what you love to do. We are bound by water.
It’s amazing how much the sport has changed in the last decade. Any predictions for the next 10 years?
It might be key to pay attention to the health of the sport. In our busy lives, we choose between biking, tennis, hiking – you name it.
To introduce a newcomer to the sport, an affordable and decent all-around package needs to be available. If 10% of those introduced to the sport are curious about a more competitive edge, then higher priced equipment is obviously available. But what I am saying is that we need to keep the water-loving crowd curious and engaged. I like tinkering on both sides of the spectrum. It can be an EZ grab handle, a tougher construction, or the highest-performance prone foil board that can cross the Pailolo channel.
Check-out this amazing 2010 Maliko Run video by SIC with a few legends…
The name SIC (Sandwich Island Composite) has a special history…
Yes, the origin of the name Sandwich Island Composites is two-fold. Historical and practical. It is said that James Cook was the first westerner discovering Hawaii. In honor of England’s Earl of Sandwich (John Montagu), Cook named it the Sandwich Islands.
The other part of the SIC name is that in my line of work I sandwich/glue different fiber and core materials together to come up with a light and durable construction. i.e a sandwich construction. Hence the name – SIC.
In the video below, Mark Raaphorst tells the story of how SIC was born