I was ready to write this off as bad luck, but then I saw posts from "beaglebuddy" on the iWindsurf forum where he described a big structural problem with his Exocet WindSUP. The problem was at a different spot, but also included a major crease - but this board was never taken out into the waves.
What got me a bit upset was the answer that the owner of Exocet sent to beaglebuddy:
Sorry for this late answer, after looking at the pictures and different comments on the forum, i can state that the issue is not due to juncture with PVC
We did have such issues on several short boards with similar crease and in most cases it is due to a hard stress, it does not really matter how many time you have sailed with the board but to me it seems that you "may" have sailed it pretty hard one day in side shore and steep choppy water or took off on a even small jump and got some stress on the board
Such crease can be easily repaired in any shop, but i can't see miss manufacturing from our side
He acknowledges that the same problem has occurred with a number of Exocet boards. He thinks that "taking off on a even small jump" can cause enough stress to damage the board, but that nothing is wrong with Exocet boards.
Well, I certainly prefer to have boards that I can jump and take in the surf without breaking! Seeing this attitude by the company owner makes absolutely sure that I will never buy an Exocet board again.
For the record, I have heard from two more Exocet boards that had major problems. One was a WindSUP 10, and the lucky owner got it replaced on warranty "in large part due to the efforts of Steve at Sandy Point Progressive". The other one was an Exocet board that Pete broke in half, but Pete said he had broken other boards, too, and that it was rider error in his case. Still, this makes me wonder. At least around here, Exocet boards are pretty rare, so the number of problem reports seems rather high.
A few days after writing this post, the US importer of Exocet boards, Steve Gottlieb, responded on the iWindsurf forum thread. While he clarified that some things (like jumping) are not covered by warranty for the longboards, his overall attitude seems much more reasonable. He suggested to contact him directly with unresolved issues, which I did. He responded to my email very quickly, and offered to pay half of the repair cost, which he eventually did pay. However, I now have a board that I am very hesitant to take into waves; which is even heavier than before the repair; and which I cannot sell without taking a huge loss because of the clearly visible major repair.
One of the extremely unpleasant things about this experience came when the main Exocet advocate on the iWindsurf forum, John Ingebritsen, basically accused me of lying on the forum, and then followed up with emails telling me to shut up about Exocet. This seems to be a common theme with Exocet: when Ian Berger reported unexpected major damage to his Exocet SUP board, he was also accused of lying, this time by Steve Gottlieb.
The entire thing seems to come from the top: Exocet's president, Patrice Belbeoch, wrote to Ian:
"This construction is durable and have barely any warranty issues on the entire SUP and Windsurf line".
Saying that they have "barely any warranty issues" works only because they decline all warranty claims! Saying that "This construction is durable" is wrong, and plainly ridiculous if you look at the pictures posted by Ian, my pictures, and the pictures posted by Beaglebuddy on the iWindsurf forum thread.
Exocet thinks their board construction is durable. Many Exocet owners have found out it is not. Exocet's reaction is to deny warranty claims to to accuse users of lying. Do you really want to support such a company?