Brazilian Wax Appeal

The secret to aerial surfing may fit in the palm of your hand

| posted on March 06, 2012

New ultra-sticky wax may be more traction than you bargained for. Photo: Van Swae

This article is from our April issue, themed “The Science of Surf.” Click here for more on our oceanic field studies, which include, but are not limited to, bathymetry, genealogy, hydrodynamics, wave pools, and stoke.

Surfers don’t share anything. Not waves, not wetsuits, not secret spots. But wax has always been the exception. Tossed across parking lots and pickup beds to any surfer in need. How good must a wax be then, if no one will share it?

There’s been relatively little change in wax over the last century. Surfboard traction began with sand-infused varnish, continued to paraffin-based wax in the ’40s, and with the invention of the traction pad in the ’80s became more specialized, stickier, and temperature-specific. But today’s progression in surfing is calling for an evolution in wax.

Enter Fu Wax, a recipe unavailable in the States that created a black market for surf wax, controlled by the Brazilian cartel. It’s stickier and dirtier, and it works. Which might be why pros were hiding it from each other. In New York, Kelly Slater launched a frontside full-rotation slob grab for a perfect 10 to defeat Taj in the waning seconds of the Quik Pro semifinal. He did it on a board without a traction pad, which Fu Wax said was covered with their secret recipe. A few people noticed.

Wax formulas have always had an air of confidentiality, treated as trade secrets for exclusive eyes only. Brazil’s product was so coveted by those in the know that nobody was talking.

Meet Fuad Mansur, the namesake and creator. He and his brothers released their first wax in 1970, but the tipping point was in ’87 when a melting-point accident in the wax lab created a product that finally held up in cooler water. Fuad was so taken by his new formula on his first test in cold temps that he surfed past dark and left the water with a mild case of hypothermia. After two days of hospitalization, he returned to Brazil and coined that Fu Wax is “adherence taken seriously.”

Younger sibling Tuca Mansur said he and his brothers are honored by the hype. “We are a family in the wax world and it’s amazing that a little company from Brazil has made such a ripple effect in the U.S. market,” said Tuca. “Imitation or impersonation is the biggest form of flattery, so we feel pretty special knowing we’ve helped change the landscape.” Converts to Fu Wax are telling him they’re landing maneuvers they never have in the past. Martin Potter told him it was cheating, like surfing with foot straps.

Gone are the methodically groomed bumps, ditched instead for the new hot, stringy mess of these hyper-tack waxes, which stick to the bottom of your feet as well as they do to your fingertips, board bags, wetsuits, and chest hair. The import pressure from South America has kicked the U.S. market into gear, entering the game on the heels of the first change to wax in a while.

Slater’s 10-point slob, courtesy of the new era of wax:

Sex Wax continues the innuendo with their new Dream Cream, infamous for an obscene level of stickiness. “These formulas are a radical departure from the surf wax characteristics that we have become accustomed to over the last several decades,” said Fred “Zog” Herzog, Sex Wax founder. The company actually warns that Dream Cream may be too sticky for some. “You are going to get incredible traction in the water, but you are going to have to deal with what could aptly be described as a mess waiting to happen.”

Bubble Gum’s new icky-sticky Gu Wax comes zip-locked, out of necessity. It’s actually a remix from an early ’80s formula, a second-generation blend with a new ingredient to keep it sticky in any water temp. “I was kind of stunned when I started hearing about some of the waxes coming out of Brazil that had the gooey, sticky, smeary formula,” said Britt Galland, Bubble Gum co-founder. “The Brazilian formulas were making it back to the states in the suitcases of the WQS and CT guys, and everyone was clamoring for it. The more I heard about it the more it pissed me off, so we worked on our gooey formula a bit and came out with the Gu Wax.”

StickyBumps founder John Dahl said traditional wax needed snag and grab, but the new era demands lift and hold. He claims their new formula PUNT has all the above. Not made for all surfers, but for the groms who didn’t know surfing existed before aerials. “A short duration contest wax is a lot more viable now than it was in the past, because of what the kids are doing,” he says. “Times are changing and certain wax applications have to change with it. This is resonating with them because of how they surf. You sure can’t ignore it.”

These waxes all carry the “topcoat” label, meaning they’re meant to be applied light and sparingly over a good basecoat or worn down bumps. Its biggest potential is in the contest sphere, where wax only needs to last a heat. “There appears to be a real need for enhanced traction when it comes to high-performance, competitive surfing,” said Zog. “It remain to be seen whether or not this translates into a significant demand on the part of the general surfing public.”

Galland is on the same page. “The way pros surf these days, they definitely need it. Sometimes all that’s left on the board while they’re spinning through the air is one big toe somewhere on the deck.” And he knows it’s a game changer. For the first time in his career, he has pro surfers, who don’t often pay to play, ordering off his online store.

Said Dahl, “The whole progression with wax: we’d still be using paraffin with motor oil if nobody bitched about it. There’s always something better.”

  • covert operation

    supposedly not even Fed-Ex knew about the shipment,

    a helicopter dropped off a crate at 4am on the beach and Slater snuck out to get it to prepare…. why was he out of his hotel that early in the morning. according to reports, slater was one of the first to eat breakfast and have his board “waxed” in his hotel room… no further questions.

    sort of sounds far-fetched, but how far would you go to win a world title?

  • Thomas

    how about moving towards more environment friendly wax instead of using more new chemical stuff that ends up in the ocean?
    pro surfers might want to set a good example here

  • tearenui

    Agree with Thomas
    and stop the bullshit anyway! we can see slater’s front foot 20 cm off his board for one second on that air. he ows to himself, not to your fucking wax

  • david b

    100% Agree with Thomas. I think the days of not caring or knowing about the effects this stuff has to the environment and our bodies are long gone. Does anyone care to tell me what are the ingredients used to make this happen?
    Just like with any other chemical, we should care about what effects this has on our bodies.
    Does it have Aluminum, paragons, phthalates?
    This stuff is no joke. I want to surf and my kids to surf as long as possible, and don’t need to reply on more heavily chemical based products to enjoy the ocean.
    If its 100% natural ( ahem ) I am all for it.

  • Rod

    @thomas @tearenui @david b….. so you guys don’t use wax uh?

  • Major Pain

    As many of You know, if Rob Machado is no longer in A Contest, I can usually be found hanging – out with “Da – Boyz – From – Brazil.”

    I have known for quite a while that A Special Surf Wax (“FU Surf Wax”), has been “A Trade Secret” Amongst Surfers From Brazil, who perform some of The Most – Amazing – Aerials.“

    Although I took a photograph of a brand new bar, during The Summer of 2011, I have NEVER before posted it, Out – Of – Respect for “Da – Boyz – From – Brazil,” as well as Out – Of – Respect for A Select Few Surfing Coaches here in California. I have never even shared that “Secret” with My Closest Young Surfers, whom I Support.

    However, now that SURFER Magazine has “Made – It – Public,” I am sharing the photograph.

    (Now, You Know…….)

    Semper Fi,
    “Major Pain”

  • Sean Pee

    Drew’s Surf Stick beats this stuff any day…

  • El Barca

    i agree with Thomas and David it safe to humans and the environment?

  • El Barca

    is it safe for humans and the environment? from the Leyte Gulf

  • FatC

    my brother is a surf nazi and he shreds. he knew about this shit about a year ago, and somehow has had a healthy stash ever since. I used it the first time a few months ago and had the best surf ive had in months…..seriously, the stuff is insane. But it will give you an INSANE RASH. not that the application directions down warn about rashes, but yeah, prepare for nipple decimation if you dont use neoprene.

  • Daniel Barbosa

    Hi I,m a surfer from Brazil and a log time ago (+/- 7 years before) I surfed the first time with this “new wax”. It was realy good, but there are two points; 1) wax derived from petroleum and 2) the durability of this wax is very small, so with 1 bar you can surf like 4 or 5 days

  • Rafael

    Hi, I ‘m from Brazil and can tell you guys that Fu Wax ingredients are no longer different to the other most famous wax in the market… But yes, it’s better !!! so what ?? I found those comments a bit racist… maybe you guys have this resistance because it’s Brazilian… sorry bro but our country looks much better than many countries and mostly USA… Here we really take care of the enviroment and nature… Fu wax is not recycled yet that’s true but don’t think that It has some hidden secret wich is gonna kill you or your children !!! C’mon don’t be silly, this is just a Brazilian really good wax…
    have a good day

  • vic

    eric mchenry and friends are in mexico right now testing a new system that allows you to do snowboard type aerials with a paddle in strap–google it

  • samir amied Brzil

    You are fucking jealousy,juust because it s a Brazilian inventoin,we have technology and very good enginers to do just trying to explain to elvolution of Brazil surf ,be sure that its no becaouse a wax…,Every wax is a chemical product.

  • Adriano Faria

    I’m from Brazil and i used this wax like 10 years ago and it was very good. But it wasn’t that sticky like it says above. There are plenty of Brazilian wax brands that make a nasty stickying wax like this and i just hate it. It sticks all over the place, and don’t last. I’ve been always using Sticky Bumps and for me it’s the best. But for those who like to get all sticky probably it’s a great option!!

  • Bryan Westphalen Franco

    That`s sick..I`m from Brazil.I Just Use that wax.Fuad is my friend,B cause hes sun is my friens too.Thanks to inventation thix Wax..ahahahahah Life is a chalenge
    but it

  • Sean Pee

    Drew’s Surf Stick is 100% organic. You should check it out on the google. Drew’s surf wax…

  • shai geva

    Banana Wax now available in Australia

  • John Day

    Monique Fairfax from Malibu owns the rights to Fu Wax in the USA she was conned by FUAD MANSUR.
    Do you want the formula? She will sell it to you cheap. If you don’t believe it Google Monique Fairfax Fu Wax and you will get her trademark with the US Patent office.

  • Billy Guevara

    So the Brazilians have created the best surf wax around eh? Some mad concoction of bizarre jungle ingredients inspired by an ayhuasca shaman experience. Of course they did….

  • Pingback: Who Else Wants To Try Fu Surf Wax...For Free?Surfing News Daily

  • Alex K

    Go check this on for size ! ! !
    Where you can find some real wax ! ! !

  • Britt Galland

    Bubble Gum Gu wax – The BEST!


  • Frank

    1. polyisobutylene
    2. Parrafin or bees wax
    3. petroleum jelly

    Stupid responses from many of you. Is it safe for humans? Stupid x3 answer: if you are an infant and plan on having wax for breakfast , then yes, you might as well down it with some KY jelly. Does it contain aluminum? Dumbass question #2 answer: no. Aluminum is an inorganic molecule and wax is an organic molecule that will not react with aluminum. Would they use aluminum gas tanks if the petroleum reacted with it. I’m surprise there isn’t any gluten free wax questions. My advise: go buy a full traction pad and then gently rub the lightest amount of your favorite wax you kook.

  • Robby

    check 2BWAX.COM which is launching February 15 2013. The wax is 100% organic, biodegradable and 100% chemical free unlike the major US brand (which I wont name). the sand does not stick to this wax and it does not melt in the sun when you leave your equipment in the car/truck or for those long summer days at the beach.
    I have been purchasing this wax from Europe from a while and it is the BOMB.

  • Billy Guevara

    Thanks for this post guys. Love the magazine. 🙂