Jul 232017
 

eco-friendly wooden surfboard, wooden surfboard, hollow wooden surfboardComing up at the end of August and into September is the only chance available in 2017 to build your own beautiful wooden surfboard over a weekend. This is for everyone who has always wanted to do their own wooden surfboard but cannot take time off work.

The workshop will take place every Saturday from 26 August for six Saturdays, making the last Saturday of the workshop the 23 September. During the six days, participants will start out with a pile of planks, choose their shape and eco-friendly wooden surfboard, wooden surfboard, hollow wooden surfboardhow they want the wood on their surfboard to look, and begin building it from scratch. They’ll shape the finished wooden structure and take it through to the finely finished wooden surfboard.

In the process, they’ll learn about the history and modern-day rejuvenation of wooden surfboards, about surfboard design elements such as shape, rocker and rails, the

eco-friendly wooden fish surfboard, wooden surfboard, hollow wooden surfboardenvironmental benefits of wooden surfboards, and about working with wood.

Fish, egg, single fin, mini-malibu and longboard shapes are available to choose from.

This workshop will take place in my Scarborough workshop. Places are very limited and I only have two, possibly three, places so if you are keen please send me an email on burnett.patrick@gmail.com or give me a call on 073 232 3043.

For more information on the workshops that I have offered since 2013 please visit the following page. There’s also a gallery of some of the boards that have been built by workshop participants: Click here to have a look!

BOOKINGS ARE ALSO OPEN FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR!

 

Nov 012016
 
wooden surfboards

Matthew Kramer styles the light fantastic on his wooden surfboard. Photo: Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox

Matthew Kramer was a participant of the first wooden surfboards course that I ran in 2013. Earlier this year I caught up with him for a surf – he subsequently wrote a very articulate account of what his wooden surfboard had meant to him over the years. It was published on Wavescape and I’m re-publishing it below. Thanks to Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox from Capture the Moment for the stunning pictures.

“When I paddled out at Llandudno for one of the first sessions on my freshly built wood surfboard I threw the board down onto the water in the shallows, slid onto it and started paddling, half expecting it to sink. It didn’t. In fact, it paddled nicely, the extra weight of the board making it glide swiftly and smoothly through the water.

I spotted Robby McDonald from Vudu Surf in the lineup and as I paddled over he turned to me and with his usual effortless wit called out, “What’s that you’re riding boetie, the old front door?” We had a good chuckle and pretty soon after that our attention was pulled back to the ocean and the task of catching some waves.

Since that day the “old front door” has had a remarkable impact on my world. I am constantly amazed and inspired by what this wood board can handle and what it can do. I’ve ridden this one board in a variety of conditions from mushy one foot Muizenberg to pumping Llands barrels and I have yet to find the limits of where it can work and bring me joy.

wooden surfboards

“What I have learned from this wood board, apart from a better bottom turn, is that although there are limits to what we can do in this life there are options and sometimes the smallest decision can have a powerful effect.” Photo: Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox

I built the board on a course with Patrick from Burnett Wood Surfboards and the experience of building my own board and then riding it is a huge component of the profound effect I have felt. I cannot recommend building your own surf craft highly enough and I feel it is something every surfer should do at least once.

Riding this board makes me feel I have earned my place in the sea. I feel initiated. I know the cost and the impact of getting to ride the wave. I know what’s inside this thing, just how much effort, love and attention to detail is engrained in its make up, and I’m going to take a great deal of care to ensure that it stays with me as long as possible. I also know that am going to make another one.

Like most surfers, I’ve ridden commercially produced surfboards most of my life and I’ve loved it. Surfing is a gift no matter how it comes to you. I think if everybody surfed there’d be a lot less road rage and nasty business out there. Who would want to be dropping bombs or delivering hurt when there’s a crisp offshore wind and the waves are perfect and you just know there’s a few with your name on them? Well I know what I would choose. I’ve ridden foam and fibreglass boards most of my life.

In fact in recent years I’ve been going through them at a rate. I ride them until they are finished, they reach a point where they will snap repeatedly and at that point it becomes cheaper to buy a new board and not have to keep paying for repairs. But every time I send another board to landfill I feel regret, not for the loss of a board but because I know that I am contributing to the mountain of toxic crap that is bleeding into the earth, poisoning and degrading our biosphere.

As wave riders we are ocean lovers by default. I have a love for the ocean that goes way deeper than just appreciating what it offers me as a surfer. That is something that most water men and women will understand.

The ocean offers us a very tangible and visible example of an ecosystem as a singular entity. The ocean lives, breathes, shifts and changes constantly just like any other organism. It’s easy to see it as a living being and I want to treat it as I would any other living creature, with the respect that it deserves. For me that means being mindful of my relationship with the ocean – what impact it is having and how I can work to better that relationship.

I understand that my actions alone will change very little in this world and any way, I’m over wanting to change it. I’m reminded of a classic line from Detective Velcoro, “My strong suspicion is that we get the world we deserve.”

I believe that Mother Nature will balance the scales one way or another with or without our help. For my part the question is, “what am I going to do to make it all OK for myself today?” And today the answer to that question is to engage in what I love with honor, respect and dignity. I’m putting that toxic shit behind me. I’ll use it where I have to, where I have no choice, but I’ll always be looking for an alternative.

And for now that’s good enough for me, knowing that the blind and unconscious use of disposable, poisonous crap for the sake of convenience is in the past.

I’m not a professional surfer. As far as my value system is concerned I now see that it is more important for me to ride a board that is made from materials that are biodegradable and non toxic than it is to shave five hundred grams from the final weight of my board. In the choice of saving five hundred Rands today versus five hundred years of leaching toxic chemicals into land and sea there is no choice. Besides, I’ve seen more improvement in my surfing while riding my wood board than any performance board I’ve ever had.

What I have learned from this wood board, apart from a better bottom turn, is that although there are limits to what we can do in this life there are options and sometimes the smallest decision can have a powerful effect. I am connected to the the ocean. I am a part of something greater than myself, and I now see that we can only truly care for something when we are a part of it.

It took building and riding a wooden surfboard for me to understand that.”

Mar 162015
 
GraemeHempBoard

Graeme with his twin keel fish glassed in hemp and bio-resin.

Here’s a board that breaks new ground in the realm of sustainable surfboard construction.

Made by Graeme on a Burnett Wood Surfboard course, an estimated 85% of this hollow wood surfboard is made out of locally-grown wood (meaning lower transport emissions because of reduced transport emissions).

It’s glassed with natural hemp cloth from the awesome folk at The Hemporium right here in Cape Town, and glassed with Entropy Super Sap epoxy, a resin that uses a bio-based additive rather than a petroleum-based additive.

There is no such thing as a “100% green surfboard”, but using materials like those above we can significantly reduce the carbon emissions and thus environmental impact of our surf lifestyle.

One study has shown, for example, that a hollow wood surfboard has less than half the carbon emissions of a foam equivalent, and that it is without considering the added benefit of glassing with a natural material and bio-resin.

Huge credit to Graeme for being so keen to break new ground. He was sold on the idea of glassing in hemp and using the Entropy product, which had only just become available in South Africa when we glassed this board last year.

All our hollow wood boards are now being glassed and finished with Entropy resin. The use of hemp is available on request.

 

 

 

GraemeHempBoard3

Glassing with hemp fabric.

GraemeHempBoard2

Graeme building his hollow wood surfboard.

Sep 212014
 
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Picture: Dougal Paterson, www.dougalpaterson.com

All our hollow wood surfboards are now being glassed with Entropy Super Sap bioresin. This is a first for wood surfboards in South Africa and increases the already sound environmental credentials of the wood boards we produce.

Traditional epoxies mostly use petroleum based materials, but Entropy claims to use “biobased renewable materials sourced as co-products or from waste streams of other industrial processes, such as wood pulp and bio-fuels production”. They claim a 50% minimum reduction in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions and say that the “green chemistry” eliminates harmful by-products and reduces power and water consumption. Continue reading »

Jun 082014
 
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Picture: Dougal Paterson, www.dougalpaterson.com

Out in a packed line-up recently and the only surfer on a wooden surfboard, I jokingly quipped that everyone else was destroying the planet. “Aren’t we all,” came a cynical reply. The answer to that comment is, yes we are.

News circulated last year about a green surfboard verification programme. The initiative comes from Southern California outfit Sustainable Surf, a non-profit start-up NGO. A report on the initiative notes that petroleum, polyurethane, polyester resin, polystyrene foam, PVC and many other substances are still being widely used to produce surf gear and equipment. Tell us something we don’t already know. Continue reading »

Feb 082010
 

It’s long been said that despite our communion with the ocean, what’s under our feet – the polyurethane foam blank covered in polyester resin – is toxic and bad for the environment in terms of manufacture and disposal.

I think about the environment a lot, especially in producing hollow wooden boards, and have tried to minimise the environmental impact of producing them. I believe that wood boards do represent an environmental choice.

First of all, wood is a natural and not a synthetic product. Using wood therefore reduces reliance on fossil fuel intensive products. Use of wood in the manufacture of products – provided it is sustainably grown – can facilitate the expansion of forests, which in turn take CO2 out of the atmosphere. And a hollow wooden surfboard should far outlive a foam board. This negates the need for replacement, saving carbon emissions because the raw material is not needed on a repetitive basis.

I feel pretty good about using locally-grown Saligna Gum and recycled Oregon pine in some of the boards I’ve made. The recycled part seems like a no-brainer – if you can make a surfboard out of something that would otherwise be thrown away then that’s a winner.

But in striving for lighter boards, I am using imported woods, which carry their own environmental issues.

When climate change panic set in, airline emissions were fingered as one of the biggest culprits, but, as it’s turned out, emissions from shipping transportation are also pretty noxious. There are carbon emission miles in imported woods and there’s no getting away from that.

On the positive side, because wood is shipped in bulk it means the quantity of wood I’m using is responsible for a very small amount of emissions. And the imported wood that I have used – Obeche and Western Red Cedar – are both listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being in the category of least concern, meaning they are not in any danger of extinction.

I’m also assured by my supplier that they are grown in a sustainable fashion. There aren’t any rain forests being cut down.

That’s my thinking so far. In this post I’m only looking at wood, not the manufacturing process itself, which I hope to get to in later posts. If I’m missing anything, add your comment below.