Photo shoot with the new decal

It’s hard to believe I started Project Cedrus nearly 3 years ago. A recent trip to Maui for some product testing and a break from Seattle winter gave me some time to reflect on this experience. I actually began thinking about improving carbon foils over 4 years ago, when I was cutting my feet on the heavy, overpriced, inadequately stiff options available at that time. When LF came out with their foil fish, I thought it was a great thing for the industry-making foiling more accessible to the masses. Obviously it wasn’t perfect, or very light, but it let us experience flight. Even by the next iteration, aluminum masts were still in the $700 range and even heavier than their predecessors due to reduced thickness. Carbon masts were failing riders, if you could get ahold of one, for an average price of about $1,500. I saw an opportunity to reduce weight, improve safety, and reduce cost. For the most part, I feel I succeeded, but the industry has changed a lot since I started this project.

Batch 2 Testing

Moses is now the king, and browsing forums and walking along kite beaches confirms this. I have lost a number of customers to Moses due to my inability to ship international at a reasonable cost. Liquid Force foils, first to market with a mass produced option, seem to be a rare site these days. Aluminum masts are now sub $100 on the used market, and new carbon masts are sub $1k. To be honest, this has put Project Cedrus in kind of a tough position, something I did not consider when I started. Budget conscious kiters and beginners find it hard to justify a carbon mast, even if it cuts the weight of their setup in half. It’s kind of a paradox to me, because low weight is something appreciated more by beginners who tend to crash more and spend more time walking up and down the beach. Riders who like to have the latest and greatest are going with complete carbon setups for optimum performance, and I respect that. Moses makes a sleek product, their prices have come down and supply/availability gone up. Economics 101. They have reinforced their masts after some failures, but the weight is still impressively light. Riders are loving their big wings, which isn’t surprising to me. I knew the industry would not converge on fast, high-aspect race wings… riders want to go slow, carve, and reduce the prospect of injury as much as possible.

Hanging out with the riders at Cloud Beach

Project Cedrus pricing is now in line with the high end carbon masts, instead of being cheaper as I had initially hoped. I sell the adapters at my machining cost; I simply want to make it as easy and cheap for my customers to be able to ride as many wings as possible. In fact if anyone wants my CAD files to machine them themselves, I’m happy to “open source” them. I hope with time and increased efficiencies as natural with any manufacturing process development, that I will be able to reduce prices. But at this point, I have a very long way to go before I recoup my investment in tooling and IP. I had to remind myself many times this trip that this project has never been about the money for me, it’s been an awesome learning experience and to be honest a pretty cheap one. It’s cost about as much as a semester of an MBA program, and I think I’ve learned a lot more about business than any MBA program can teach:) I’ve also met amazing people, had a lot of fun, and nothing makes me happier than an email from a satisfied customer. With the big expenses behind me (molds, extrusion dies, bonding fixtures, the patent) each sale is finally putting a dent in my bottom line. As for Cedrus, I do think I succeeded in creating a better mast than anything on the market. But as always, there’s constant room for improvement and to many product designers, such as myself, it will never be perfect.

Thanks for the fun times Horati!

I spent a fair amount of time with Horacio, founder of Kanaha Shapes, a board popular with my customers. We met at the AWSI Expo in Hood River last summer, and connected over our handmade passion projects. It was fun to meet up with him at his home beach, and share the latest batch of masts with the new logo and refined cosmetics. He was eager to try, and this time I was fortunate to have a bag of adapters with me. We mounted Project Cedrus to his Mucho Macho board and affixed the Moses 633 wings. I couldn’t believe how light the setup was, and look forward to the day I have the skills to ride a 37” board.

First ride for him

His feedback, to be entirely honest, was mixed. He admitted that he immediately noticed and loved the increased stiffness. His foil felt more responsive, and carved very well. But, he said the setup felt slow, which again to be entirely honest, wasn’t a surprise. Project Cedrus is about 19mm thick, which is probably 4-5mm thicker than the bottom of the Moses mast, which means 30% more drag. And I knew this during the design phase, it was one of the sacrifices for the light weight and increased stiffness and strength despite being hollow. But most of a foil’s drag comes from the wings, not the mast. I will work on some more analytical models to better understand the effect of mast drag on the complete setup, and plan to add a “technical” section to the site. There’s also a lot more to drag than thickness, and I plan to test different surface finishes (gloss vs. matte vs. sanded) this summer. Surface finish can apparently have a huge impact on drag, something a structures guy like me might not appreciate.

The other feedback pertained to the specific design of the Moses adapter with the 633 wings. Apparently this wing is so big, and generates so much lift, that Horacio feels the mast should intersect the Moses fuselage further forward, not aft as originally designed. I think this is pretty common feedback, and see Stringy is also making fuselages with a similar concept, and I think it’s especially important on these tiny boards. So I will work on incorporating improvements to the adapter, or perhaps offering an alternative design specific to the 633 wing.

Testing the new Lift Adapter

I’m really excited to now offer compatibility with Lift and Cabrinha, making Cedrus compatible with 6 different fuselages on the market. That’s over 20 different wing options, and I think it’s really cool that some of my customers do have two different sets of wings and appreciate that feature. I have had a lot of requests for MFC foil compatibility, and if I can get my hands on one, will try to make an adapter for them as well. I see CloudIX released a new carbon mast, that is twice the weight and significantly more expensive than Project Cedrus. I will work to ensure compatibly with their new wings as well. I’m also really excited to see the next batch of foils from the big brands, Slingshot and LF. If there’s a wing and/or fuselage you really want to ride with Project Cedrus, let me know. If you are a wing maker or shaper, big or small, I’d love to partner with someone on a complete setup.

Final night packing

The latest batch of Cedrus is beautiful. The new logo came out gorgeous, and my shop is getting better and better with the cosmetics. They are essentially an airplane factory, and this is their first consumer product, so it’s been a learning experience for both of us. I just want to thank my customers who have supported me and appreciate Project Cedrus for what it is. Again, it was never my plan to compete with high end race foils, but instead to offer a safer, lighter, and cheaper option to improving your setup. I feel I have succeeded, but am excited to see how this project continues to evolve and will continue to make the best mast I can for you!

Mahalo, Kyle