The #BenWoodGo challenge went off In October in some of the biggest cleanest surf the UK has experienced this year. 11 X European longboard champion Ben Skinner paddled into some truly huge waves on our sustainable and unique wooden board, nicknamed the ‘Eco-Gun’*. Surfers Against Sewage commissioned the surfboard,designed by Ben Skinner and built by local wooden surfboard artisan James Otter. This project has been supported by Artist Project Earth (A.P.E).
These huge waves were generated by a powerful storm system deep in the Atlantic. Gigantic swells pulsated towards the UK’s only legitimate big-wave spots, known as The Cribbar, ridable 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.
Ben’s amazing rides 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 (including the Cribbar), 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 board 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.
There are a variety of high-performance, eco surfboard technologies emerging onto the market, which we believe all surfers should investigate to help minimise their impact on the environment they use most – oceans, waves and beaches.
A more detailed story about the #BenWoodGo challenge and sustainable surfboards will be featured in the next edition of Pipeline (SAS members magazine) and Wavelength.
* 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
Andy Cummins, SAS Campaigns DirectorBen has tested our sustainable surfboard in the most challenging conditions and proved beyond doubt sustainable surfboards are an excellent choice. I have a couple of sustainable boards in my quiver and I hope this project will encourage other surfers to search for a lower impact board for their next ride.
Ben Skinner, 11 X European Surfing ChampionI was excited and nervous testing the SAS Eco-Gun in big surf. But the board performed perfectly, helping me ride some great waves and even a barrel. It’s clear that sustainable surfboards are a good option for any surfer!
Words by SAS, photo’s by Jason Feast