Will an Environmentally Friendly Push Mean Returning to Surfing’s Roots?

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Performance isn’t exactly the best angle to take when selling surfers on a move toward eco friendly gear. Our wetsuits need to be stretchier, warmer, and dry faster. Our boards need to be durable and light. So the push for better performance in the water has largely been made without consideration of the footprint we’re leaving on the planet.

The people behind Hermanns, a new environmentally friendly maker of all boards surf related, have used this realization as the foundation of their business. “Based on the materials currently being used there’s  a clear contradiction to the philosophy of surfing. Surfboards don’t decompose for thousands of years. They are toxic waste and represent a non renewable product.”

So Hermanns has designed an entire line of surfoards, SUPs, skateboards and even kitesurfing boards using Paulownia wood – a wood that isn’t susceptible to rotting and is used often for boat building as well as other surfboards. The hollow wood chambered construction is meant to keep the boards light, with their 5-11 shortboard model weighing in at about 5 kg. That’s a little less than double the weight of your average surfboard, but I’d venture that a larger embrace of different materials for making surfboards would lead to a wood board even closer to the weights we’re used to with fiberglass and foam. If shapes, design aspects and materials have evolved this much with the status quo, it’s reasonable to expect the same once a community wide “green” shift is made.

Getting away from the technical mumbo jumbo, the boards are beautiful. Their entire approach is as much about returning surfing to its true roots as it is to motivate us all to be more responsible in what we buy/surf. So what’s my whole theory on getting us all on eco friendly boards? Don’t sell surfers on performance. Heck, don’t even stress about matching the performance of other products that are available today. Just make us all feel really guilty about buying that pop out 5-8, because it’s not going to decompose and sooner or later you’re going to want to buy another board. If nothing else, these are gorgeous water crafts that would be nice to see more often in our line ups.

Editor’s Note: Check out more of Hermanns’ new surfboard line on their kickstarter campaign here.


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