By: Lauren Arendt
As many Cal Poly students before him, Shaun Wixted, founder of Lost Coast Surf Tech and South Carolina native, fell in love with the Central Coast after his first visit. After a stint with the military, Wixtead transferred to Cal Poly to pursue a major in aerospace engineering.
His passion for surfing, along with a full immersion into the technological advancements in his field of study, lead him to ask why the sport of surfing had hardly evolved over the past 100 years. He noticed that the shape of surfboards was dictated more by the “feel” of one surfboard over another than anything concrete or quantifiable.
“It’s really funny to see surfing stay very traditional,” Wixted said. “There is really no science behind it. We are going to put the science in surf.”
The Lost Coast Surf Tech team’s first goal will be to redesign the fin of the surfboard in a way that can show buyers exactly what to expect from performance in comparison to leading brands based on hard facts. Wixted explained that surfboard fins are exactly like airfoils in the sense that they have different lift and drag coefficients.
“Bringing the surfboard to the twenty-first century” is no easy task. The latest advancements in hydraulics and computational fluid dynamics made it possible to provide the depth needed to design surfboards with specific purposes and features backed by data. Wind and water channel testing similar to the testing used for airplanes and yachts can now be applied to surfboards.
The Navier-Stokes equation, an equation in physics that describes the motion of viscous fluids, serves as a key reason why Wixted and team are able to tackle the problem of outdated surfboards at all. It was completed only in the last 10 years to an extent to which surfboards can be optimized.
Wixted and the Lost Coast Surf Tech team pursue their dream of creating the ultimate surfing experience with the help of the Hatchery and mentors. Wixted even lives in the Cal Poly lofts to fully immerse himself in the entrepreneur scene at Cal Poly.
“The network helped me transition from the military to Cal Poly seamlessly,” Wixted said. “I was welcomed with open arms.”
Beyond welcoming him to the campus community, the Hatchery created opportunities for Wixted to acquire valuable tools to use in growing his curiosity into a business idea with real potential to grow.
“Look at the Hatchery, this place we have is absolutely amazing,” Wixted said. “There are opportunities like being able to sit down with mentors from the SLO HotHouse, attend mixers, and meet with alumni.”
Wixted explained that the mentors from the Hatchery and Aerospace department helped him get through a steep learning curve and build a team of fellow entrepreneurs.
“Mentors showed me that it’s 2018 and anything is possible if you have that little chip on your shoulder that it can happen,” Wixted said. “Hopefully I can give something back in return.”
The Hatchery accepts applications on a rolling basis and can be found in building 2, room 206. Through the combination of mentorship, weekly workshops, startup assignments, and an array of other activities and events, students will gain hands-on experience in launching a company. They will also develop essential entrepreneurial skills in communication, goal setting, and leadership.