Product reviews/11/21/2023

Biobased foam core powers new high-performance water ski

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HO Sports partnered with Checkerspot to displace petroleum, in their high-performance Sabre water ski, with revolutionary materials, derived from microalgae oil. Thanks to this innovative approach, the Sabre won the ISPO Award 2023.

The Sabre water ski by HO Sports is a high-performance ski that revolutionizes the industry with its biobased foam core.

In principle, petroleum is an invaluable resource and key to the human life we live today. But there are also concerns associated with petroleum use, above all the emissions associated with the combustion of fossil fuels and their impact on global climate change. In addition, the extraction and transportation of petroleum products has several impacts on the environment and human health, especially during the drilling and refining of oil. The disposal of petroleum-based products is also a problem.

That’s why many brands are working to move away from petroleum as the basis for their gear. One of them is HO Sports. The leading manufacturer of water sports equipment paves the way towards a post-petroleum future with their new Sabre water ski. In partnership with Checkerspot, HO Sports has displaced petroleum in the Sabre, with a revolutionary lightweight biobased foam core derived from a renewable source, microalgae oil. At their jury meeting at Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria, in October, the six jury members found this environmentally-friendly project worthy of receiving the ISPO Award 2023.

The lightweight and durable construction makes the Sabre a great choice for intermediate to advanced skiers.
Image credit:
HO Sports

More sustainable materials from renewable sources

HO Sports, which is headquartered in Snoqualmie, Washington, developed the biobased and custom-formulated rigid foam core with Checkerspot, a biotechnology company based in Alameda, California, which designs high-performance ingredients and materials for a better planet. The Checkerspot WINGTM platform enables the design, at the molecular level, of new materials. Their team of scientists engineer microalgae to produce new molecular building blocks, and then they apply chemistry, creating materials with novel physical properties. Hence, Checkerspot’s materials are formulated with renewable oil produced by microalgae through a large-scale fermentation process. 

In the past, the development of high-performance equipment relied on petroleum, a finite resource, to meet industry standards. In creating its 2024 lineup, HO Sports has taken the opportunity to use more sustainable materials from new, renewable sources. 

By partnering with Checkerspot, HO Sports aims to set a new industry standard by offering products that not only excel in performance but are better for the planet.

The “heart” of the Sabre: the foam core developed by Checkerspot, derived from microalgae oil.
Image credit:
Kevin Kinghorn, Checkerspot

"It takes courage and conviction to move away from the status quo. We are excited and honored that industry leader HO Sports has joined the community of innovators who are empowered by the WINGTM Platform and committed to transitioning towards a post-petroleum future,” said Matthew Engler, Head of Materials Business Development at Checkerspot. He continues: “The Sabre water ski shows that performance versus sustainability is a false choice. We encourage other product developers and forward-thinkers to seek out high-performing renewable materials to position themselves at the forefront of innovation in their respective industries."

Great choice for intermediate to advanced skiers

Checkerspot deployed its biology and materials science capabilities to design a biobased foam core tailored to reduce overall weight, with approximately 42% bio-carbon content. With higher compressive strength at lower densities, the foam enables a construction that meets water ski-specific performance metrics.

The lightweight and durable construction, easy maneuverability, and forgiving sweet spot make the Sabre a great choice for intermediate to advanced skiers who aim to progress their skills, accelerate their learning curve, and want a versatile, stable, and smooth ride. The overall package resulted in a water ski that the jury selected for the coveted ISPO Award 2023 as it marks a significant step towards a more sustainable water sports industry.

Checkerspot x HO Sports: The video explains how the Sabre water ski was designed with biology.

This is what the ISPO Award jury says about the Sabre water ski by HO Sports:

"The Sabre Ski has the potential to change the way water skis are made, by replacing the traditional petroleum-based foam core with a biobased alternative derived from microalgae oil. A big step towards more environmentally friendly products."

This is what HO Sports says about the Sabre water ski:

"At HO Sports, we were already using bio resins in our skis. Sourcing a biobased core material was the next logical step. Seeing what Checkerspot was doing with their foam and how it worked for snow skis in their brand, WNDR® Alpine, it seemed like a great fit. Replacing plastic foam cores derived from petroleum with foam cores derived from algae oil is an elegant solution to a big problem we have in the world. Making foam out of algae instead of petroleum is just a better way."
Dave Wingerter, Vice President of Product Management and Global Brand Director at HO Sports

5 reasons why the Sabre water ski by HO Sports convinced the ISPO Award jury:

  • Biobased foam core with approximately 42% bio-carbon content
  • Lightweight & durable
  • Easy turning 
  • Forgiving sweet spot 
  • Perfect for intermediate to advanced skiers

Key data:

  • Sizes: Medium, Large & XL 
  • RRP: € 995.65 
  • Available: from spring 2024
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