On a trip to the WSL Newcastle Cup of Surfing event, we touched base with Tom from Wave Changer, who provided us with some interview questions to talk about the future of surfboards and the wider realm of surf culture.
See out responses below and the link for more...
Tell us about the type of surfboards you make and the materials and processes involved.
At Eco Evo Surf we have spent thousands of hours researching, developing and testing, to bring a unique combination of eco-friendly and performance-driven components. We found that the 220g flax material closely resembles fibreglass, yet in its raw form it grows with very little water or soil nutrients.
We coat this with a bio-based epoxy resin over a tightly beaded recycled foam blank, we are seeing our boards last a lot longer, they show very little visible deck compressions, as well as being light and 'drivey'. We continue to develop our range and the components of our boards to be more environmentally conscious.
Apart from a plank of locally grown timber, what do you think is a realistic prediction for the future of mass produced sustainable surfboards?
There are various products out there for shapers and board builders already in place, that can and will attribute to a sustainable future for surfboard production. Many of the systems for production are refined for economic efficiency which, surprisingly, in some cases also improves the environmental implications of the product. That said, there's a lot of room for improvement. I feel like the greatest challenge is the adoption of sustainable alternatives by the general public, so when the demand grows, so will the investment in a better standard for surfboard production.
What role do pro surfers play in the whole sustainability movement?
As leaders of the sport and icons of the industry, pro surfers have a responsibility in leading the change. They will be influencing youth to make smarter decisions by representing sustainable brands in the water. I’d love to see a professional surfer take on the opportunity to leverage their influence for a positive change, and create a legacy for sustainable surfboards as part of the WSL [World Surf League] Tour.
It seems like the most exciting innovation is coming from grassroots or backyard shapers and designers, do you agree?
We see innovation coming from all realms of the industry; there are recycled plastic boards being 3D-printed in the south of France, and bamboo seedlings being grown to build surfboards by backyard shapers in Japan. I feel like the industry undercurrent is moving towards a more conscious approach to what we are taking into the water.
Is there anything outside of surfing that really excites you, in an environmental context?
I cannot pinpoint a single aspect. There's been an amazing shift in so many industries (old and new) to approach the market with a sense of responsibility. There's some fascinating work being done with electric vehicle batteries and also energy efficient architecture. It's an exciting thing to witness, there will undoubtedly be a massive shift in our lifetime.
Any final thoughts on the future of surfboards or surfing in general?
Sustainability comes at a financial cost. In an industry notorious for being a 'tough nut to crack’ the backyard shapers are being cut short, yet they are the foundation of the very existence of our sport. I feel as though we, as consumers, need to be prepared to pay a little extra for craftsmanship, sustainability and the relationship with our shapers. It could be as simple as asking questions like: Are the surfboards Australian made? Are they sustainable? What inspired the shape? And so on.