Greener Choices from Spirare Surfboards
I’ve been surfing for more than half my life, and surf travel has brought me around the world. I can’t tell you how many shortboards I’ve chewed up and spit out. The sad fact is that any way you cut it, the polyurathene performance shortboard is a disposable commodity. It’s also a toxic product from start to finish. I’ve always considered it a necessary evil, and figured I could make up for it by being “greener” in other parts of my life.
When I heard that Spirare Surfboard’s Kevin Cunningham was shaping surfboards from foam made out of recycled marine materials combined with sustainably raised woods I was excited to go visit his shaping bay and chat with him. My visit left me both impressed and not a little surprised.
I expected to see nothing but chunky funshapes and fish that weighed a lot and looked pretty. The type of board I have little use for. I also imagined that they would be a small percentage of his overall sales, kind of a boutique board for the same people who collect retro fish wall hangers. I was very wrong.
According to Kevin, “performance came first…making a greener surfboard doesn’t accomplish anything if it doesn’t perform.” The boards I saw had clean lines, a nice foil and weighed less than I expected. Kevin explained that the thin wood topsheet gave the board so much strength that it only requires a single layer of 4 oz glass both top and bottom. Having a wooden parabolic outside rail (a la Firewire) gives the board a natural flex pattern and eliminates the center stringer. The board’s fiberglass finish “felt” good to me as well…I’ve always hated the plastic feel of molded epoxy boards such as Surftech and the like.
As I puzzled over how this design would eliminate torsional flex and allow the board to flex longitudinally I asked Kevin how many of these he’s selling. The answer was the biggest surprise of the day. “These boards make up roughly 70% of my sales, with traditional polyurethane comprising the other 30%.”
So what’s the catch? Cost is definitely higher than a traditional polyurethane deck. Board prices start at $925 and go up based on price. “I try to keep the price as low as possible because I want to sell more of these boards, but it simply costs more money to make them. The upside is that they last much longer than a PU deck so the difference pays for itself over time.” The math makes sense…if you’re dropping $550-$650 on a new ride every 6 months to a year, $925 for something stronger doesn’t seem unreasonable.
There are some high profile surfers sampling Spirare’s offerings including Tom Carroll and Carissa Moore. Kevin was quick to offer me a demo the next time we get a few days of decent swell here in the Northeast, and I’m beyond stoked to check out what could be a much greener alternative to what I’ve been riding for the last 18 years. Stay tuned for our first surfboard review.