Picture this – you’re in a far-flung surf destination when disaster strikes and someone else’s board collides with yours and punches a hole in the rail. A typical nightmare scenario. Or their nose goes directly through the deck of your board. Both situations have happened to me. Typically that board is cooked until you can get some proper ding repair, or you just surf it knowing it’s taking on water like the Titanic, ruining the foam inside.
Even if you have a ding repair kit with you, repairing holes and cracks in your board is neither easy or fun when you’re on the go. Even at home it just sucks.
Recently I became aware of a small company based in New Jersey called Elephant Seal. They have made a small kit with transparent film that adheres to your surfboard, covering any dings and forming a watertight seal. It’s basically a high tech and way nicer looking form of the old duct tape repair job.
This kit is highly packable because it’s flat and light, making it a no-brainer for surf trips or just being stashed in your glove compartment. It comes with some sandpaper to smooth out rough edges before applying the film, some alcohol to help remove any excess wax from the area, several sheets of adhesive film, a plastic straight edge to smooth out the film and remove air bubbles, and a sticker.
So how does it work? My shortboard had an annoying crack in the rail (thanks airport) that didn’t seem worth it to have professionally fixed (I didn’t want a huge scoop out repair to affect the flex of the rail, maybe that’s a myth or a totally bogus fear of mine, but the board is almost brand new). But, I also didn’t want water seeping in. This was a perfect job to try out Elephant Seal.
The crack was small enough to be covered by one of the pre-cut ovals that come with the package (there are various sizes of pre-cut squares and ovals to suit most dings).
The process was quite easy to do – the most time consuming is probably going to be just getting the wax off the area (it won’t work if there’s wax so use some elbow grease and get it all off).
Best of all, the repair job is now almost fully invisible and I didn’t have to send it to a repair shop and I also didn’t have to put an ugly glob of Sun Cure ding repair over the crack (doing it that way never seems to sand down smooth).
To be honest, I’m probably going to leave it there for the life of the board.
You can use Elephant Seal as a permanent fix, or just temporary until you can fix the issue more professionally. Elephant Seal notes that you just use a bit of heat and the adhesive should remove fairly easily (I haven’t tested that part out yet).
Why not just use tape, you might be thinking. Not all tape is waterproof, and the Elephant Seal film is actually stretchy enough to mold to the contours of rails and curves without bubbles (just apply carefully). Regular waterproof tape doesn’t quite have that flexibility. I was surprised in that I was able to finesse the tape to have zero air bubbles around the rail that was a bit uneven due to the outline of the board (the curve of the rail plus the curve of the outline starts to bend unevenly). The tape molded to the contours pretty well.
Overall I’m super happy with this product and I’ll be recommending it to all my friends, especially if they have upcoming trips. We are also adding this to our list of 7 must have surf supplies. I think this is something every surfer should have in their kit. Also, I had a bit of a shipping delay (not their fault) and they were very responsive to my concerns, even offering to send another one out (no need, it showed up the next day). Super stand up company and we are excited to see them succeed.
Oh and by the way, Surfing Handbook readers get 10% off with code SH10OFF
Surfing Handbook readers get 10% off with code SH10OFF
Elephant Seal Surfboard Repair Film kit has everything you need to quickly, easily make dings and cracks in your surfboard completely watertight.
• 3 Sheets of Pre-Cut Repair Material (that's 12 patches total!)
• 8 Alcohol Prep Pads
• 180 Grit Sandpaper
• Multi-use Utility Blade *NEW FOR 2021*
• Waterproof Storage Pouch
• Application Instructions
• RAD STICKER