Tag Archives: surfboards

Nine Lights founder Jeff Beck – improving surfboards by placing the stringer on the outside

Last weekend, while attending the Sunset Beach Handplane Demo Day, I met a fascinating surfboard shaper by the name of Jeff Beck. Through his company, Nine Lights, Jeff is performing some incredible experiments that could change the surfing industry. He had many of his boards on-hand to try for free, which is a regular part of the “demo day” ethos.

The first board that I tried, called the Slipper, perfectly represents Jeff’s unique design sense. The board has no stringer and instead uses a thin piece of wood on top (fiberglass bottom). According to Jeff, “when you remove the stringer it opens up all sorts of design possibilities. You can experiment with different shapes and sizes.” He said the wood top provides as much, or more, strength than the stringer would provide.

I took the board out to try him at his word. Now, I’m 6-feet tall and weigh 180+ pounds. I pounded the hell out of that board because it is a modified Alaia, which means no fins, long and real thin (picture below). You have to pop-up quick and immediately start turning. The board never once gave or bent and felt stronger than my classic stringer boards. I definitely think Jeff is on to something, and it was so much fun to ride that it was my favorite of the event.

 

The Slipper

 

To give you more insight into Jeff’s innovative thinking I want to tell you about his handplanes made out of aerospace airplane wings. Made from the foam in the wings they are super-strong and amazingly lightweight. When you hold it in your hand all the weight you feel is in the leash. I tried one out and it definitely feels stronger than regular surfboard EPS foam (I kept smacking it because I couldn’t believe how strong it was). An amazing way to recycle old airplanes and turn them into a fun ride.

 

Hand(air)planes

 

Overall, I was truly impressed by Jeff’s deep understanding of surfboard design, experimental concepts, and his environmental focus. The next time I’m in the market for a surfboard I will assuredly be checking out Nine Lights Surfboards.

Here are a few other designs from Jeff, and make sure to visit his website and like him on Facebook.

 

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The amazing shots of surf photographer Morgan Maassen

(image: Facebook)

 

Morgan Maassen is possibly the world’s most talented surf photographer. All you have to do is look at these shots and you will be impressed. He is also a past winner of the Follow the Light Foundation.

Here are 8 of his images pulled from his public Facebook page, where you can find tons more. He can also be found at:

 

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*Enjoy Handplanes turns bodysurfing into art

*Enjoy handplanes set themselves apart in the bodysurfing industry by turning their creations into one-of-a-kind art. It is amazing, the creativity and beauty they put into these little planes, with everything from DIY craft to pure artist illustrations, simple coloring and classic lines.

Of course, one has to mention that all of these handplanes are made from recycled and reused material. They use old, trashed surfboards and environmentally responsible resin for glassing. Definitely a part of the Zero Waste mantra.

Take a look and you might just be tempted to buy one. You can also join the *Enjoy community by visiting their vibrant Facebook group.

 

**All these photos, and more, can be found on the *Enjoy Facebook Photos page

 

 

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The most fun had all summer – The Paipo Stokefest 2012

The Paipo (pronounced pie-po), a member of the family of ancient Hawaiian surfboards like the alaia and olo, is experiencing a resurgence and finding a place back in the lineup. The small, flat, wooden bellyboards have become so popular that The Paipo Society decided to create a summer gathering.

 

 

Over 75 stoked people attended the inaugural Paipo Stokefest, which took place on July 29, 2012 at Scripps Pier in La Jolla. Besides having plenty of paipos to test ride (thanks to Encinitas shapers Jon Wegener of Wegener Surfboards and Christine Brailsford of Whomp), it included other prone surfing craft such as handplanes, mats, alaias, and basically anything that can be propelled by a pair of swimfins.

 

 

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Wooden surfboards are on the rise – interview with Spirare Surfboards: Kevin Cunningham

Just a few questions from the Liquid Salt interview:

 

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background?
I was born in Baltimore and spent summers growing up in Ocean City Maryland. I moved to Rhode Island to attend the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000. I started shaping boards while I was still a student in 2002 and was hooked on the experience of shaping and riding my own boards. I kept shaping more and more boards for myself and eventually friends were asking for them too. I was turned off by the negative environmental aspects of the polyurethane foam and resin though. I began to look for more sustainable means to shape boards while maintaining a high performance standard, and being an artist the aesthetics of the boards is important to me too.

What’s next for Kevin Cunningham and Spirare?
I’ve been working with reclaimed found marine debris lately. I am currently using fishing nets and lines that wash up on the beach to make fins and accessories. It’s amazing how much trash you can find on the beach when you start to look for it. I hope to develop more uses for this material in the coming months too. Other than that I’m going to keep shaping as many boards as I can and push the performance of my shapes as far as possible.

 

Keep reading: Liquid Salt - Spirare: Kevin Cunningham

 

You had me at Baltimore…and the wealth of ocean trash. So far I’ve found a kayak paddle, three leashes, wetsuit, several sand-toy sets, and a nail file – Ocean Recycling!

 

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Green surfboards

The best surfboards in the world are the most toxic. Take any professional surfer and she/he will be riding a high tech stick packed with the latest innovations. It will also be the worst possible board for the environment not only in its materials, but in the creation, disposal, and in effects on workers creating the boards.

The good news is that many small business are developing alternatives. UK-based company, Ocean Green, is bringing back the all wood board by hollowing out a Balsa-wood plank and using bio-degradable fiberglass cloth.

Country Feeling, a Hawaii based shaping group co-founded by Jack Johnson, is developing a soy and sugar-based foam and a solar cured resin.

There is also a movement to recycle everything from the foam dust to the actual boards themselves. Green Foam collects the excess dust tossed out in shaping shacks to make new foam for boards.

The movement is starting to catch on among the pro’s (Kolohe Andino rides a recycled foam board) and the crowds. There is even a new surf film digging into this, Manufacturing Stoke:

No other sport is so intrinsically linked to nature. Some call it a spiritual experience, most call it indescribable. And yet, in becoming the multi-billion dollar industry it is today, a great paradox has risen. Surfers are indeed directly connected to the earth’s pulse and yet a majority of the materials used are environmentally toxic.

Still, this whole story largely unknown. Only a few of the large companies are taking it seriously which means even fewer surfers are interested. Surf wax and wetsuits also have their own toxic problems and are in need of an overhaul.

Which means its all about grass roots growth. Tell your friends, experiment in your garage, and spend your dollars on what you care about.

How did it get this way?

We’ve all seen the classic image of a shaper wearing the breathing mask. Heard the tale of the young protégé shaper sweeping up foam dust. But, have you ever thought about why the mask is needed, can you think of any other profession where people need them?

There’s not many of them left in the country because these compounds are toxic. Most are banned in several states or highly controlled due to their volatile nature. We are talking about cancer, deformations, groundwater contamination, ocean pollution…here are some of their names:

Toluene Diisocynate, Polystrene, Polyurethane, Chromium, Dicarboxylic Acids, and Dihydroxy Alcohols.

An explanation of how we got here starts back in the 60′s with the massive 10-foot long wood planks. They were heavy, so heavy that you had to balance it on your head and cart it around in “woody” wagons. These boards defined the early era of surfing and the longboard riding style (slow, long curves at special breaks).

Then modern technology stepped in: foam, fiberglass, and resin. The wood was whittled down to a thin strip in the center for strength (stringer) and the rest was taken up by foam, then shined up with fiberglass in resin. The result was a lighter, faster, and more agile board.

It revolutionized the sport. Made it the worldwide industry it is today. Then it all came crashing down in 2005.

A series of factors contributed to this change, the largest of which was the shutting down of Clark Foam. This giant supplier of foam for boards worldwide came under the cross hairs of government (all of them). The city, county, state, and federal authorities wanted a cleaner factory and Gordon Clark couldn’t take it.

The story is still unclear, whether Gordon refused to clean-up or the city simply wanted him gone. It is probably somewhere in the middle but the lawsuits, criminal charges, and cancer-riddled workers speak to some truths.

Namely, the growth of the surfboard industry is creating a lot of waste and pollution. As the government stepped in it found that nearly every element of the modern surfboard involved toxic chemicals or volatile organic compound.

The regulators clamped down and the surfboards manufacturers went abroad or went mechanical. Hoping to outsource the pollution or remove the worker from the shaping. Clearly the industry didn’t want to face it’s own problems.

Which now puts the industry on the verge of a new breakthrough. A revolution in materials to bring about a cleaner, safer way to enjoy the sport we love.

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father/son photo by Mike Baird