Surfboards: there's always a shaper behind a brand | Photo: Roache/The Boardroom

What are the best surfboard companies in the world? There is no answer for that question. But there is a perfect surfboard for your surfing style and experience, and that is precisely what a good shaper does.

Every year, surfers buy more than 400,000 surfboards worldwide. The largest companies and shapers in the surfboard industry are located in the USA, Australia and Europe.

In 2008, 26% of the surfboards sold in the USA were shaped by local craftsmen. Polyurethane and expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) with epoxy formulas still rule the market, but eco-friendly core materials such as cork, fungi, and wood are gaining enthusiasts and a new generation of costumers.

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Papoa: big wave surfing in Peniche | Still: Jorge Figueira

A group of professional surfers has returned to Papoa, the big wave surf spot located in Peniche, Portugal. The waves were pumping in the 15-18 foot range, with wind gusts of up to 30 knots.

The swell forecast said it all, and word spread quickly. Papoa was about to deliver giant waves as the buoys indicated a powerful wave train heading towards Peniche. The show went on for two days.

Garrett McNamara, Kealii Mamala, Carlos Burle, Pedro Scooby, Peter Mel, John John Florence and Nic von Rup visited Supertubos' big wave brother, alongside hundreds of spectators and media professionals.

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Surfers: riding waves and saving lives | Photo: Creative Commons/Roman Königshofer

Surfers save lives. When wave riders are out in the line-up, there may be swimmers in trouble, more or less far away from firm land. No matter if it's summertime, spring, winter, or fall.

Rip currents are responsible for 80% of all rescues in the surf environment, and take away about 150 lives every year in the United States. Strong rip currents can move people at eight feet per second.

The surf lifesaving movement is deeply connected to the sport of surfing. The original surf lifesaving club was born in Australia, between 1903 and 1907, although it is not clear whether the world's first organization is Bronte Surf Lifesaving Club or Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club.

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