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A Short History of ProBox

Late summer in 2003 two friends living in Hanalei on the island of Kauai, who were both frustrated with the current fin box systems, got together to figure out how a better fin box could be designed that would allow for easy experimentation with fins! Little did they realize what they were embarking on!

Mitch Haynie was a successful building contractor, and is a longtime avid surfer, shaper, and inventor. Robin Mair is a longtime surfer, surfboard shaper, fin designer, boat designer, computer geek, and paddler.

The goals for the design of this new fin system were that it had to be very easy to make fiberglass fins for the box. It needed to be extremely easy to install without the need for many complicated steps and all sorts of jigs and tools. It also needed to be easily adjustable in the directions that made sense to surfers, which were forward/backwards, and cant or fin angle. Many existing fin systems have fins that require an angle to the base, which complicates the fin manufacturing process.

Robin had experience working with Larry Allison at Fibre Glas Fin Co, trying to get custom fins manufactured for the systems he was installing in his surfboards. The fin manufacturing process was complicated by the base requirements for the different boxes, they either needed angles or tabs that were tricky to deal with, which pushed the costs up! Larry provided a lot of feedback on the design based on 20+ years experience manufacturing fins.

The design process started out with some experimental boxes made from LEXAN™ and quickly progressed, to an intense design period learning the intricacies of 3D CAD systems and injection molding. Many more prototypes were made using stereo lithography and FDM in order to test out various concepts.

These expensive prototypes were placed in surfboards to get real world testing and confirmed many of the design decisions and also helped to identify additional refinements that were needed. The search for a tooling and molding manufacturer began in earnest.

Finally, in the summer of 2004 the big step of creating tooling for the system was taken. Once this tooling was completed another period of testing started where the final product could be evaluated. This resulted in further refinements and minor process tweaks. Time was also devoted to investigating different materials in order to find the strongest possible material for the boxes.

By early 2005 ProBox was ready to emerge from the design and testing stages and into the hands of surfboard builders across the country. A series of promotions was started that allowed surfboard manufacturers to try out the new boxes in their own boards, so that they could provide feedback on the installation process and how the boxes worked. Finally, surfboard manufacturers started adopting the system and in our own small way the ball was starting to roll!

In early 2006, Mitch and Robin sold the controlling interest for the fin system to Larry Allison of Fibre Glas Fin Co who had been a longtime collaborator, and distributor on the mainland. Larry was the ideal choice as he was intimately connected to the fin industry with years of experience, and had been working with Mitch and Robin from the beginning. This made it an extremely compatible choice as it would provide a complete solution. Larry is ideally located for getting more exposure for the system on the mainland, where we are continuing to see increased growth and interest.

Mitch and Robin still play an active part in the business, working on new ideas for the future, and helping to get the system better known.