A leading expert in wax comb technology has lamented the lack of progress in this cutting edge sector of the surf industry. “I really don’t know what more we can do with this vital surf implement,” said Max Walker, aged 42. “There seems to be a lack of resources and manpower being made available, and as a result the design improvements just aren’t there. “
Walker cited the late ‘80s as a truly exciting time for wax combs. “Look those were incredible times. You have to remember that before then surfers were using ordinary hair combs, or even their fingernails to get traction. So when the plastic wax specific comb with serrated shark tooth edge came along, it was very similar to the shortboard revolution of the late 60s.”
After the breakthrough, the technology then improved throughout the ‘90s. Walker remembers the introduction of beveled edge, which could be used as a scraper and thereby doubling it’s utility.
“It seemed that every other year we had another design breakthrough,’ Walker reminisces. “Our R and D section had 20 staff alone, and when we would nail a breakthrough, say the scraper for example, the feeling was amazing. Some of the what we called ‘Eureka parties’ were legendary.”
Since the 2000s wax comb technology seemed to effectively to be stuck. “Look there were tiny amendments,” says Walker. “Say a beer opener for example, or even being used as memory sticks. And the introduction of the fin key probably kept us afloat,” Walker continued. “But they were just bolt-ons and didn’t actually involve wax, so they felt like hollow victories.”
And even while wax combs are now being placed in most boardshorts, adding a new level of uncomfortability to the apparel, the writing seems to be on the wall. “My son is in the business, but I’m worried for his future,” Walker said sadly. “Nothing has happened in design for 15 years. I haven’t been this concerned since Barton Lynch and Damien Hardman back-to-back world titles with full deck grip. The industry needs to listen.”