WINTERMISSION: Behind The Suit With Rip Curl

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posted by jbrebner

Rubber and winter go together. Plain and simple. With a heavily populated industry of both long running and pop up brands, we as surfers are constantly asking ourselves ‘what’s the difference between brands, fits, materials and the rest?’ Well, go no further and ask no longer, we’ve got the answers from the who’s who of the industry, lead designers and marketplace specialists giving us the know how on their latest ranges.

John ‘Sparrow’ Pyburne, Rip Curl’s wetsuit designer and developer, has been with the company since the first wetsuit was made in 1970. Full of experience a clear understatement, Sparrow knows the ins and outs of the wetsuit game more so than anyone else on the planet. From the first use of basic neoprene to eventually incorporating modern day technologies like heating systems, super stretch and taped seams, Rip Curl and John alike have been there for it all, their reputation and top quality products speaking for themselves.

To learn more, we pinched the man himself to talk key components of the brands latest range, discover his tips for keeping your suit alive for as long as possible, his recommended rubber for your climate and much more!

Tell us who you are and give us a brief background to how you got to where you are today.
Hi I’m John Pyburne. I started surfing 53 years ago and now I am also regularly kite surfing, stand up paddling and kite foiling.

Your key role is Wetsuit Designer at Rip Curl, what exactly does this entail?
I develop the Rip Curl and Peak master wetsuit patterns.  Most importantly ensuring that all of the functional aspects required for good surfing are incorporated into the design. It can be a challenge incorporating cosmetic design concepts that our graphic artists are working towards in the Rip Curl ranges but it is important that the suits look as good as they perform.

Rip Curl new season wetsuits have just dropped and they look epic to say the least! Can you give us a summary of the collection? What are the key components?
The new E5 Flash Lining is taking cold water performance suits to new levels.  The new Zip Free entry system in the E-Bomb and all new Flash Bomb+ suit means they are significantly easier to get on and off. It also increases the paddling ease of the suit, taking it from epic to godly. For the cold water surfers the Flash Bomb+ is super warm with the whole suit having internal award-winning E5 Flash Lining and a new super stretchy Liquid Mesh component of smooth rubber on the front and back panels – this reduces wind chill and actually increases the stretch of the whole suit.

What suits would you recommend for people living in warmer areas compared to what you’d recommend for those in areas like Vicco, etc?
For surfers wanting lightweight performance the E-Bomb is it and particularly good for warmer areas.  When the water and winds get cooler stepping into the Flash Bomb range is hard to beat.  The new E5 Flash Lining is incredibly stretchy, especially compared to the rubbers that I worked with 10, 20 or even 40 years ago.  For the pinnacle of warmth and stretch the new Flash Bomb+ really combines all of the best features into one suit.  It is really warm and very stretchy.  Anyone who wears one of these suits is blown away by how good they are.

What do the suits offer over others?
One thing that puts Rip Curl in front is the extensive development and testing of new materials.  We have so many different machines and tests to see how well the material will perform to ensure it meets our standards and would then be good to use in our wetsuits.  After all of this, we then put heaps of hours into testing it in the surf ourselves to be sure. We also have excellent warranty coverage and a quick wetsuit repair service. 

Give us your tips to keeping the suits alive as long as possible?
A good way to look after wetsuits is to wash in fresh water and hang over a soft rail out of the sun to dry – it’s always best not to use coat hangers.  And at the end of a surfing season it’s always great to wash your suit before you store it away so it’s good as new for next season.