Oct 31, 2019 | BY Tasmin Chilcott
Starboard Ocean Ambassador Kjell recently made his foil board from a disused SUP. On his recent visit to visit Earth Technologies, he tells us about his visit and how he did it.
“When I first walked into Earth Technologies, a board shaping company on the south side of LA, I thought I’d accidentally entered some kind of side street used board shop and blamed Google Maps for getting me lost, yet again, in a weird corner of town. Old, beat-up longboards, 90s shortboards, SUPs of all shapes and sizes, and all manner of other surfboard eccentricities formed a hallway at the other end of which the shrill sound of a CNC machine was projecting. Although freshly shaped blanks lay strewn left and right, there was strangely no smell of epoxy resin. When I finally found someone (or rather, they found me), it turned out to be the man I was looking for—Ryan Harris. He is the one who is going to make my dream come true, to make a foil board from a disused SUP.
Considered something of a messiah in the world of “eco boards,” or environmentally- friendly surfboards.
Ryan is a cool and dynamic as a character who shapes for top riders from around the globe. Including John Pyzel, Al Merrick, and Matt Biolos. He is one of the few African-American surfboard shapers and has committed the future. His shaping company is building a truly symbiotic relationship between surfing and environmental thinking.
I always bought or was sponsored with surfboards.
I didn’t have much involvement in shaping them, until I started riding foil boards. The young, small market couldn’t cater to all needs. I wanted a tiny, high-performance 3’6, and I decided to design it digitally myself. I chose Earth Technologies as they were reputed to be the most eco-friendly.
Ten emails and four weeks later, I drove south from Santa Barbara to Torrance to pick up what would be the very first foil board I’d ever created. I wanted to get a better sense of what went into making my board an “eco board”, so I asked Ryan to show me the process. He explained that instead of using a totally new blank as the basis for my foil board, he “upcycled” the blank of an old SUP. After stripping off the old glass and resin, the SUP was CNC’d to the new shape of my board, saving almost 25L of foam from the dumpster.
Next, the fiberglass and carbon cloth layers were sourced from scraps, maximizing material efficiency.
Since my board was so small, Ryan could use these smaller bits that would’ve normally gone to the bin. Earth Technologies exclusively uses bio-resin, an environmentally friendly solution to epoxy resin, that, among many things, doesn’t smell at all.
My board was completed with this bio-resin, making it an officially certified eco board. This certification program was developed by Sustainable Surf. An organization launched in 2012 that focuses on “reducing carbon footprints, increase the use (and reuse) of renewable, recycled and up-cycled inputs, and reducing toxicity within the surfboard manufacturing process.” Since then, many of the world’s leading surfboard manufacturers have joined the eco board movement, with Earth Technologies being one of the first.
Many dozens of quality foiling sessions later, and I’m still trying to think of ways to break my board. Despite its alternative form of manufacturing, it’s bombproof, looks beautiful, and rides as well (if not better) than anything else. Choosing to build your next board as an eco board is incredibly easy and responsible. In this age of technology-driven surfboard
shaping, it should be a no brainer—it’s a win-win.”