Surfers Against Sewage Launches Big Wave Sustainable Surfboard Project in Cornwall

We joined forces with 11 x European longboard champion Ben Skinner and Otter Surfboards to develop a sustainable big-wave surfboard ready to tackle the UK’s biggest waves as part of the #BenWoodGo Challenge. The unique wooden board, nicknamed the ‘Eco-Gun’*, has been created using locally sourced (Cornish) cedar and will be surfed by Ben this winter in the biggest waves the UK has to offer.  This project is supported by Artist Project Earth (A.P.E.) helping to promote more sustainable surfboards with reduced carbon emissions.

The ‘waiting period’ for the #BenWoodGo Challenge has now officially opened, putting the team on standby for the biggest, most perfect swell at Cornwall’s infamous big wave surf spot, the Cribbar. The spot is located off Newquay Headland and is considered to be one of the UK’s only legitimate big-wave spots, rideable only rarely in the very biggest conditions. The name #BenWoodGo was inspired by the epithet “Eddie Would Go”, referring to Eddie Aikau, a famous Hawaiian big-wave surfer, only with a twist to reflect the sustainability message of the project.

This project highlights one of the more sustainable surfboard options available that could help reduce our individual & collective impact on the environment, particularly from carbon dioxide emissions. Globally it is estimated that between 750,000 and 1 million surfboards are produced annually, emitting approximately 220,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to over 1 million flights from London to Morocco**. Surfers should be aware that carbon dioxide emissions and climate change are directly impacting our oceans, our beaches, our wildlife and even the very waves we ride. 20% of the UK’s reef breaks are surfed at low tide so are threatened by sea level rise, pollution incidents will increase due to more intense rainfall events driven by a changing climate and the very storm systems that generate surfing waves may change their trajectories starving surfing regions of rideable waves. Surfers Against Sewage’s Climate Change report details these impacts and other impacts from our changing climate and simple steps to reduce emissions.

The board for the #BenWoodGo Challenge is made from red cedar carefully selected from a sustainably managed woodland close to where it was made and where it will be surfed, all helping to keep carbon emissions down to the absolute minimum. High performance wooden boards are actually hollow, constructed like an airplane wing, using a skin and frame technique. This keeps the weight down without compromising the strength of the board, essential for a critical big wave situation. The finished board stands at an imposing 9’8” long and is built for only the biggest waves. When the swell of the winter arrives Ben will be dropping into huge waves, only tens of meters away from where the imposing granite headland juts out into the Atlantic, pushing our surfer and the green board to the limits!

There are a variety of high-performance, eco surfboard technologies emerging onto the market, which Surfers Against Sewage believes all surfers should investigate to help minimise their impact on the environment they use most – oceans, waves and beaches.

The #BenWoodGo waiting period starts on December 2nd and will run until 28th February. When the right swell arrives, live updates will be posted on the Surfers Against Sewage Facebook page. Stay tuned for more details.

This project is supported by Artist Project Earth (A.P.E.).  Together we are striving to raise the awareness of the impacts climate change will have for surfers, recreational water users and coastal communities.  We hope the sustainable surfboard will inspire our community to investigate simple solutions to help them adopt a low carbon lifestyle.

* The term Eco-Gun has been coined for this project. A surfboard referred to as a gun is specifically designed to catch big waves being long and narrow.
** The flight from London Heathrow to Tanger in Morocco generates 0.19 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. http://www.carbonneutralcalculator.com/flightcalculator.aspx