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Eco-surfboard Highlights Surfboard Evolution in UK Exhibition

  • Wednesday, 13th July 2005
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

A unique surfboard exhibition in Cornwall, UK, is looking at how surfboards developed from natural wood into FRP composites, and examines how modern materials can affect the environment.

The “Full Circle – surfboard evolution” exhibition opens on July 1st and will display rare and historic surfboards dating from the late 1800s to the present day.

It is the first exhibition in Britain to look at the change in design surfboards over the last 100 years and their environmental impact. The organisers point to the issue of over three quarters of a million surfboards being produced each year worldwide, most of them containing petrochemicals. The exhibition hopes to highlight new ideas on material selection in surfboard design.

“The exhibition shows the amazing changes in surfboard design over the decades, from the time when they were handmade pieces of wood to the current standard of lightweight fibreglass and foam that everyone accepts, but few of us think of the environmental impact,” said director of The Surfing Museum, Peter Robinson.

“Full Circle will show visitors what we can do to change this, but also give everyone a taste of Britain’s rich surf history that dates back to the time of Captain James Cook. who first saw surfing in Hawaii in the late 1700s”

The boards on display will include a rare Hawaiian koa wood plank, home made hollow wooden longboards from the West Country, classic British surfboards from the 1960s through to the ‘80s – and Eden’s new balsa ‘eco board’.

The eco surfboard was built by Cornish craftsmen using balsa grown at Eden, and has been laminated using natural hemp cloth and vegetable oils and believed to be the world’s first fully biodegradable composite board.

The ‘eco-board’, which has been made using a combination of materials derived from plants, proves that natural materials can replace polyurethane foam, polyurethane resin and glass fibre to create a product that will allow future surfers to enjoy their sport with no detriment to the environment.

The ‘eco-board’ – brainchild of Chris Hines, sustainability director at the Eden Project and former director of Surfers Against Sewage, and Pat Hudson, Eden Guide, uses a balsa wood core cut from a balsa tree growing in the Humid tropics Biome at Eden. This core, after shaping, was then coated with a composite layer consisting of hemp cloth in a matrix of resin derived from an oil producing plant. Hines mentioned that whilst they have developed boards using hemp and eco-resins, they are now looking to develop an eco-foam made from plant based materials – something he is convinced is possible.

Hines asserts that if a surfboard can be made entirely from organic materials and retain its structural properties, then other industries should be taking note and look at ways of changing their material use as well.

“We see our eco surfboard, and the Full Circle exhibition, as an iconic challenge to industry,” said Eden’s Chris Hines. “It’s a challenge to the surf industry to keeping working in this direction, and because of surfing’s mass appeal, to manufacturers in general to make their products in a sustainable way.”

“Full Circle – surfboard evolution” opens at the Eden Project on July 1st and runs through until August 31st.

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