Student of the University of Plymouth develops environmental surfboard

February 13, 2009 | Surfing


The project is part of the Surf Science and Technology degree at the University of Plymouth, UK and involves looking into the performance of an environmental surfboard in comparison to an industry standard Polyurethane Fibreglass board, which has been the dominant materials for surfboard construction for far too long.

The production of its materials and the production itself has a huge environmental impact; surfing guilty secret, which has been kept very quiet. However in this age of carbon footprints and rising oil prices, it makes sense to adopt ‘greener’ materials.

They are many surfboards currently available that market themselves as being greener than the PU/fibreglass, however this isn’t hard considering the environmental damage of the petrochemicals and styrene involved in the production of surfboards, whereas the ‘green’ board will be manufactured using 40% plant based foam blank, 98% UV Bio resin and Bamboo weave matting, even the leash is 50% recycled, I am using a bio-plastic leash plug and hand shaped Bamboo fins, which will be waxed with one of the many environmental waxes.

For a 6’, 18” ½, 2’ ¼ board it will be 50% plant or recycled based, far higher than most if not all on the market, for a glassed foam core surfboard.

Both boards will be machine shaped to ensure regularity and I will ask a selection of local surfers and team riders to test boards without knowing which is which and with analysis and the answering of an in-depth questionnaire on handling, turning, executed manoeuvres and flex etc, to allow me to compare the performance and see if it is comparable.

This will allow me to say whether an environmental surfboard could withstand the stresses and strains of modern surfing and still perform to the level of PU boards. I will also look into the economic viability of such a board, as Gary Young’s bamboo boards are $150 (AUS) per foot, which is a greater expensive than a PU board.

The project is going to cost a substantial amount so any funding or material donations would be greatly appreciated. As I hope this scientific study can pursued others to adopt greener surfboards and will have an impact of surfing’s collective carbon footprint.

Words for by Richard Lomax uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more on our About section.