Project Cedrus is no longer just a project for me. What started 6 years ago on my dining room table has arguably revolutionized the foil industry and somewhat unexpectedly turned into my full-time job. From 3D printed edges masking taped to a hollow carbon box, the original architecture of Project Cedrus has remained the same, while the business and manufacturing have evolved. After a couple intense years managing production during the pandemic, global supply chain challenges, and through and explosion of growth thanks to new forms of foiling, I am excited and reinvigorated to get back to what got me into this in the first place: engineering and design.
PROTO 0 on my dining table, Dec 20, 2016
The design of Project Cedrus will experience its 5 year anniversary this month. I can’t think of another product in the water sports industry, let alone foiling, that has been on the market for 5 years and still sees strong demand. A long product lifecycle is better for customers, manufacturers, and the planet, yet brands continue to launch new designs on an annual basis, and in some cases even more frequently. Truly innovative design cannot happen on 1-year cycles, and we won’t pretend that it can by offering a new mast every year or even two. Brands who once claimed to “engineer flex” have now launched high-modulus masts. Some companies offer masts tailored for new forms of foiling, like pumping, but we believe the only variable of the mast that should change is length. The mast should be stiff, strong, light, and efficient through the water no matter what type of foiling you are into. And while we would love to continue focusing on improved manufacturing efficiency and quality, we are excited to focus on Evolution Cedrus, the next generation of the mast that led the revolution of stiffness and modularity.
We chose early on to focus on stiffness and strength when we started engineering Project Cedrus in 2016. Carbon masts at the time were heavier, weaker, less stiff, and more expensive than the extruded aluminum options. The goal from day 1 was to launch the stiffest, strongest mast on the market with at least 30% lower weight than aluminum masts. We succeeded, and our investment in strength and stiffness paid off during the COVID-induced foiling boom of 2020. High volume boards and inflatable wings dramatically increased loads on the mast, rendering many kite-foil masts inadequate for the job. Thanks to custom lengths, the use of adapters, and a short/domestic supply chain, we were able to supply masts for all types of foiling while others were stuck on container ships. However, despite a scaleable product architecture/design, we have struggled to meet demand. Despite operating at redline for the past couple years, we have maintained focus on the development of a new manufacturing process to further increase throughput and quality of the mast. Thanks to this new process, we have cut hands-on labor time by almost 50%, which means we can build masts faster and with even better quality than before. Without a doubt, this is the most advanced manufacturing process the industry has ever seen. True innovation takes years, and that’s what we’ve been working on behind the scenes.
One of the first masts off the new production line, and nearly indistinguishable from the current Classic.
While we are proud of our reputation as the stiffest, strongest mast in the industry, we have been honest that this has come at the expense of drag. We have been clear since day 1 that Project Cedrus was not designed for race or big wave/tow-in foiling, and that multidisciplinary optimization requires a constant balance of complex variables to achieve desired performance characteristics. Most foiling occurs between 8-15kts, and in this speed range, the drag of the mast is only a small percentage of the total system drag (most comes from the foil wings). Few riders can really feel the difference between a 16mm thick mast and one at 19mm, and most of the riders who do feel a difference believe the increase in stiffness is worth the tradeoff in speed. But thanks to so many lessons learned over the last 5 years, we are confident that we can maintain our industry leading stiffness and strength, while reducing drag for better performance whether you are pump foiling at low speed, or powered hard upwind with a wing. To be clear, Project Cedrus will maintain its hollow architecture and we are performing a multidisciplinary optimization to reduce drag, not just thickness. The benefits of the patented hollow architecture are too great to abandon, from lower material usage/costs to featherweight handling in the water. While thickness does have an impact on drag, it’s not the only variable. Trading thickness for chord length is not free drag reduction; these thinner, high modulus masts with long chord lengths are heavy, expensive (due to material usage), have reduced yaw performance, more wetted area (drag), and still lack the stiffness of Project Cedrus. The below graph shows the section properties of nearly all currently available hydrofoil masts, and while Project Cedrus is definitely on the thicker end of the spectrum, the short chord length helps keep drag compatible to thinner masts with long chord lengths.
Current landscape of foil mast sections, lower portion where applicable (of tapered masts)
Project Cedrus is the only truly universal foil mast, compatible with nearly every foil brand thanks to the launch of the new modular fuselage. Only a couple years ago, a typical client would buy one adapter with their mast. Today, it’s not uncommon to sell 3-4 adapters with each mast, as clients are finding the perfect setup for each diverse set of conditions. We are doubling down on compatibility, and excited to innovate with a new connection system to further prove that an aftermarket/universal mast can offer better performance than OEM. As a result, the current classic/clydesdale/aluminum adapters may not be compatible with Evolution Cedrus, or vice versa. HOWEVER, we will continue to design and supply adapters for 1st generation Project Cedrus and Engineered Aluminum masts as long as we continue to sell aluminum (no end in sight) and customers keep them in service. We have recently transitioned to standardized A4-80 attachment hardware, offering improved corrosion resistance and 50% higher yield/fatigue strength than standard A2-70 bolts. To reiterate: the current adapter attachment method is perfectly robust and will be supported for as long as necessary. We want you to continue to find value in your Project Cedrus, but also look forward to innovating the next generation connection system for those who are interested in an improved user experience. Think of this as the Lightning connector moment for the iPhone: We know you have invested in accessories (adapters) around the 30-pin cable, and they work. But the lightning cable is better, offering faster charging and data transfer, bi-directional connection, and a more reliable/robust package. We’re not going to leave you hanging, but we are also not going to stop innovating and improving our products.
With limited resources (time, money, labor) and already constrained supply chains, we have made the difficult decision to not resume high volume orders for custom length current generation Classic and Clydesdale masts. We will continue to stock and sell aluminum masts, both standard and custom sizes, along with all adapters. As for carbon masts, we need to focus on Evolution Cedrus design and manufacturing. We can’t devote the time and resources needed to fulfill custom carbon mast orders and managing the associated supply chain; we are investing in the long term business at the expense of near-term profits. We also know how frustrating it can be to buy a new piece of equipment, only to have a new version launch the next week. Our goal is to have Evolution Cedrus available for purchase in the next 9-12 months, which may seem short or long depending on your perspective. For the typical Project Cedrus client, waiting 9-12 months for a mast that will last another 5+ years is a small price to pay.
For those eager to get their hands on a new mast, and unwilling to wait up to a year, we are going to offer a limited production run of Classic or Clydesdale masts produced using our new innovative process. These masts will feature Cedrus-proven quality and design, and benefit from lower weight thanks to new leading/trailing edge materials. Because we are transitioning our manufacturing site, these masts may take a little longer to produce. These “Test Pilot” masts can be purchased on the webstore with a $500 non-refundable deposit, with a $500 balance due on delivery (+ mounts and adapters). Test Pilot masts are backed by the same 2-year warranty, and we expect to deliver them in April. They are compatible with all existing adapters and modular fuselages, essentially indistinguishable from the existing masts. They differ only in the material of their non-structural edges and painting process. For those on the fence, we don’t have final pricing for Evolution Cedrus yet, but it will most certainly be more expensive than current edition masts and again up to a year away. Quantities of Test Pilot masts are limited, so if you’re looking for a mast to ride this North American summer season, now is your chance to get one on order.
And for existing clients who don’t need a new mast, but are eager for Evolution Cedrus and want to support the business during this time, we are excited to again offer our “Launch Customer” program. This is essentially our own kickstarter, without the fees and time consuming videos:) We actually used this financing method when we launched Project Cedrus in 2018, with many of those customers still riding their mast today! Stay tuned for more info on how to become Launch Customer; sign up for the email list to be first to know or keep an eye on the website and Instagram feed!
If you would like to contribute to the final design of Evolution Cedrus, please feel free to visit this survey and share your thoughts and opinions with us!
Thanks in advance for your patience and support, Kyle