A New Approach to Surfboard Construction
For all of the advances that we have seen in board design over the years, one thing has remained pretty much unchanged—the way that we actually construct our boards. Although a variety of epoxy and EPX boards have popped up over the past two decades, the number of truly original innovations can be counted on one hand. For the most part, the majority of our boards are built exactly as they were in the late 1960’s—a block of polyurethane foam is shaped and then laminated with fiberglass and resin.
Companies such as Firewire have been a rare example of board builders who are looking outside the box for new construction processes, and they are now poised to revolutionize the surf industry once again. The Woolight project is Firewire’s latest innovation, and it came about totally by accident.
Kiwi shaper, Paul Barron, was laminating a board a decade ago, and accidentally spilled resin on his wool shirt. When he saw how the wool hardened with the resin, it occurred to him that he could theoretically laminate boards with wool fabric. After testing his theory, he came up with a formula that worked—and that is way better for the environment. Using sheep-friendly wool, Barron uses a vacuum-pressure technique to press the wool into a thick wool-and-bioresin composite that is as strong as fiberglass and polyurethane. Building boards with this fabric rather than fiberglass reduces carbon emissions by as much as 40% and cuts VOC emissions by 50%, which means that although these Woolight boards aren’t necessarily green, they are a lot greener than a normal board. The wool-laminated boards also have better flex characteristics, which reduces vibrations while catching and riding waves.
Being a leader of surfboard innovation, Firewire was naturally attracted to this idea and has decided to add Woolight to its selection of construction options. Numerous board designs will be built with Woolight in the coming year, opening up a new and exciting world of both performance and sustainability in the surfboard market.
Here at Hawaiian South Shore, we have always been excited by the latest technology that is applied to building surfboards, particularly when it is good for the planet. We will soon be getting three Woolight boards in the store—some of the first boards commercially available from Firewire—and can’t wait to check them out. We hope you will come to check them out too. After all, when advancements in board design only happen once every few decades, it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss!